It used to be the stuff of 2000AD, the comic that introduced the world to Judge Dredd and two vast crime-filled cities, Mega City One and East Meg One.
In its dystopian vision, the first mega city around New York began construction in 2030, intended to house three to four million people. In a sign of how quickly future dystopias age, the new Times Atlas of the World lists the growing club of real mega cities, all of them with predicted populations of more than 10 million -- not by 2030, but by 2005.
According to these estimates, Tokyo -- the world's largest city -- will hit nearly 27 million. Sao Paolo in Brazil will have just under 20 million people and Mexico City 19 million. Sixteen other cities are expected to exceed the 10 million mark, including Mumbai with 18 million and Dhaka in Bangladesh with 15 million residents.
Two cities in Africa are expected to go mega -- Lagos in Nigeria and Cairo in Egypt. According to the atlas -- the 11th edition since it was first published in 1895 -- the phenomenon is a mark of a global population in the grips of rapid urbanization, where close to 50 per cent of the population now lives in cities.
Indeed, the latest estimates predict that urban dwellers will outnumber the rural population for the first time by 2007.
And Tokyo is leading the way. A Landsat 7 image of the city, included in the atlas, shows the city's growth, a spreading grey cancer whose spiralling tendrils can be seen sucking in neighboring cities and towns and even reclaimed sea.
The rise of the world's mega cities is one of the most marked trends noted by the atlas in recent decades. It has been a process driven largely by Asia -- the continent boasting 10 mega cities by 2000, while North America had managed two (New York City and Los Angeles).
But the mega cities are not the only major human impact noted by the atlas. There has also been a catastrophic impact on the environment. The atlas's authors estimate that 90,000km2 of forest is being lost each year, the equivalent, since the last edition of the atlas in 1999, of an area the size of the British Isles.
But the greatest impact has come through global warming, with successive editions of the atlas showing shrinking ice fields and evaporating lakes. It reveals the rapid retreat of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, once the world's fourth largest lake and now the tenth.
Since the 1967 edition of the atlas it has shrunk by 39,994km2.
Since the 1975 edition, the surface of the Dead Sea has dropped by a massive 17m.
It is the availability of new digital satellite technology that has made the changes so shockingly apparent.
The atlas's chief cartographer, Sheena Barclay, said: "We are seeing things that you would not have seen 10 or even 15 years ago, changes that we can see by overlaying versions of our satellite images. And we are seeing a lot of concerning things."
Perhaps the most compelling evidence of global climate change came during the preparation of the present volume when the cartographers had to redraw the coastline of Antarctica after the Larsen ice shelf disintegrated last year.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference