Global Urbanization

Most of the expected increase in the world’s population over the next forty years, 1.5-3 billion people, is expected to be located in the cities of the developing world.  Previously we written about rapid urbanization in developing world in – Planet of Slums, World Urban Forum, urban innovation, and visualizing global urbanization.  The UN expects that sometime in 2008 most people will live in cities. The Christian Science Monitor writes:

This demographic shift is mostly taking place in Africa and Asia, largely in low-income settlements in developing countries – much of it in the 22 “megacities” whose populations will exceed 10 million and in some cases grow to more than 20 million by 2015.

“Unplanned and chaotic urbanization is taking a huge toll on human health and the quality of the environment, contributing to social, ecological, and economic instability in many countries,” warns the report, which is written by demographers, international program officials, and other experts from the United States and other countries. …
urban growth

But the news is not all bad. Researchers find examples of cities from Karachi, Pakistan to Freetown, Sierra Leone to Bogotá, Colombia with projects aimed at improving the lives of urban dwellers while reducing the environmental impact of concentrated populations. These include urban farming plots, solar water heaters, economic cooperatives, improved sewer facilities, and upgraded transportation systems.

Of the 3 billion people who live in cities today, about 1 billion are in slums without clean water, adequate toilet facilities, or durable housing. Some 1.6 million urban dwellers – many if not most of them children – die each year due to causes associated with the lack of clean water and sanitation.

“For a child living in a slum, disease and violence are daily threats, while education and healthcare are often a distant hope,” says Molly O’Meara Sheehan, project director of Worldwatch’s 2007 report, a collection of articles and graphics produced annually since 1984.

This argues for a reassessment of global development priorities, advocates say, particularly the allocation of national and international aid. According to the Commission for Africa, launched by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004, problems associated with urbanization are second only to HIV/AIDS on the world’s most rapidly urbanizing continent.

Yet from 1970 to 2000, aid designated for cities in developing areas was just 4 percent of total development assistance worldwide. …

By 2015, there are likely to be 59 African cities with populations between 1 million and 5 million, 65 such cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 253 in Asia.

“Urban centers are hubs simultaneously of breathtaking artistic innovation and some of the world’s most abject and disgraceful poverty,” writes Mr. Flavin. “They are the dynamos of the world economy but also the breeding grounds for alienation, religious extremism, and other sources of local and global insecurity.”

Cities also exemplify the challenges and promises of sustainability. China, for example, has 16 of the world’s most polluted cities. But on an island in the Yangtze River near Shanghai, China this year plans to break ground on the Dongtan ecocity project designed to be nearly self-sufficient in food, water, energy, and waste disposal for its projected 500,000 residents.

3 thoughts on “Global Urbanization”


    The years 2006 and 2007 the Blacksmith Institute have accomplished a research about the cities more contaminated to the world and arrived to the conclusion that the Oroya City was between the 10 cities more polluted of the world: Blacksmith Institute have be benevolent; according to my researchs to many years that I am publishing, the Oroya is the more polluted to Peru, Latin America and of the world and every day is being more polluted: lead in blood in children in the Ancient Oroya in average 53.7 ug/dl ( DIGESA 1999); pregnancies women 39.49 ig/dl ( UNES 2000), new borns children 19.06 ug/dl, puerperal 319 ug/100 grams/placenta ( Castro 2003) and workers 50 ig/dl ( Doe Run 2003). Top lead in blood accepted 10 ug/dl; present day is 0 ug/dl ( Pediatric of Academy to USA)

    When the Oroya city was in hands to the CentroMin eliminated only by the upper chimney to 167.500 meters, in average by day in tons: sulfur dioxide 1000, lead 2500, arsenic 2500, cadmium, particulate matter 50 and so on, more 24,000 to toxis gas product to the incomplete combustion of the coal, without count it is eliminated by industrial incinerator y by the 97 smalls chimneys, it is estimated 15,000 (PAMA . El Complejo Metalrgico de la Oroya, 1996); they add 45,000 tons by day,

    Doe Run envoy every three months the concentrations of the heavy metals to the Ministry to the Energy and Mines and with the sames datums Ceverstav have demostrated the pollution was increased; for example the sulfur dioxide it have increased in near to 300 %, by increment to the production (Cederstav. La Oroya no Espera 2002

    The American Assotiation to the Environment say that the environmental quality to the Oroya it is serius deteriorated since that Doe Run was owner and the same enterprise declared that the concentrations of the heavy metals gas it is ncreased in the air: lead 1160 %, cadmium 1990 % and arsenic 6006 % (Portugal, et al. Los Humos de Doe Run 2003)

  2. The example of the Dongtan project in China has surely got to be the way forward. It is no good just continuing the way we are, we have to utilise methods such as solar power and change the way we live.

    It is not just the increasing population that is causing the problem, it is the fact that in forty years we will run out of fossil fuels.

  3. CONFIRMED: Oroya PERÜ in the most polluted city of the world

    Dr. Godofredo Arauzo

    Blacksmith Institute visited the Oroya city in May 2008. The observations about the achievements in the pollution by this metallurgic complex, according to statements of The Inter American Association for the Defense of the Environment (AIDA) by its name in Spanish.are DECEIVING, because such statements have no basis; is a summary presented by Doe Run. AIDA sustain that the environmental quality and the fulfillment or the degree of protection for human health of the Oroya city can not be evaluated based on the quantity of investment made by the company but it should be done based on the current data about the quality of air, lead level in the blood and another environmental and health indicators, that the report does not take into account (1).
    Critic that Blacksmith is based on limited datum in order to evaluate, for example, the sulphur bioxide (SO2) level in the zone. Blacksmith Institute affirms that the SO2 concentration in the Oroya city has a day time average of 5.000 ug/m3 (maximum allowed is 13 ug/m3) (CDC); but during the day that Blacksmith was in the Oroya, the SO2 concentration was 0.(1)
    Finally AIDA concludes that the Blacksmith report undermines the efforts to really reach the remediation and cleaning of Oroya city (1)
    AIDA express too that the quality of air in the Oroya has deteriorated seriously after the metallurgic complex came into Doe Run’s hands. Doe Run itself said that the lead concentration raised to 1.163%, the arsenic to 606% and the cadmium to 1990% (2). The concentrations of lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide and others have substantially increased since 1997, mainly due to the increasing of production; for example, the lead production raised 25% (3). The inhabitants of Oroya city are contaminated by a toxic cocktail (4); it is a living laboratory.
    The cadmium concentration (Cd) raised dramatically since the acquisition of the complex by Doe Run. In 1999 the Cd concentration was 0.22 ug/m3 in the Syndicate (the level allowed was 0.0055 ug/m3); it surpassed by more than 40 times the frontier and did not inform anymore to the Ministry for Mines and Energy (MEM) since year 2000; in the same way, the arsenic concentration soared meaningly since 1997. There is not monitoring of particulate material smaller than 2.5 micra (PM 2.5), that are the most dangerous to human health and move easily. Ceverstav says that the parameters of air quality have been deteriorated dramatically after Doe Run have in charge of the complex (5)
    The Environment Protection Agency of USA (EPA), has 1467 chemical compounds registered as the most harmful and the sulphur dioxide (SO2) is ranking number 16 in dangerousness (6). Cevestav showed based on the same figures that Doe Run sends to MEM every 3 months, that SO2 emission had incremented in more than 200% since Doe Run has in charge the complex (5).
    Blacksmith affirms that the SO2 concentration in the Oroya is in average 5,000 ug/m3 (1); another author reports that this average is 934 ug/m3 (2); the level allowed is 13 ug/m3 (7). The day time concentration is higher between 8 am and 5 pm and it reaches a peak of 2,100 ppb (the allowed value is 280 ppb) (5). In August 13. 2008 the SO2 concentration arrived to an historic and horrifying limit: 27,000 ug/m3 (8-9-10) (the allowed figure is 13 ug/m3 (7).
    Another heavy metals and highly toxic compounds are not analysed in the Oroya: vanadium, uranium, mercury, antimony, barium, selenium, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, and aluminum (2). The inhabitants of the Oroya are contaminated, not only with lead but too with cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide, and antimony, as well; the antimony concentration is 30 times higher than in USA (11): .
    There has not been any decrease in the air concentration of lead in the last 5 years in the Oroya; in Huanchan such concentration is above 15 times the level permitted; in the months of January and February 2007 it was an excess of 245% above the allowed level in Huanchan station; in 2006 the cadmium concentration exceeded 48 times the levels allowed by the WHO (12): lead production increased by 25% (2).
    Doe Run monitors only specific sources; it does not monitor the toxic agents that are emitted through the 95 small chimneys neither it monitors to the deposits of concentrateds and deposits to arsenic of Vados and Malpaso, as it does not monitor either the elimination coming from the industrial incinerator and the cock plant that was emitting 23,800 meters cubits per day of toxic gases (PAMA).
    Doe Run explained that the pollution of the Oroya had diminished; one attendant person spitted that the pollution has increased; the lecturer answered: show me a document about your statement and the person replied: the best document who I count of is my contaminated body’ (4).
    The SO2 emissions from the cooper Peruvian smelting are among the production sources of the highest sulphur dioxide concentration in the world and they are also among the most contaminated production sources in the world (13).
    There is not concrete information about the quality control systems to the sampling and to the analysis of the monitoring procedure used by the company; we are not certain about the accuracy, confidentiality and suitable of the information reported to MEM; the figures reported to MEM could be considered as an approximation and are under valuated and they are not in electronic neither in graphic form (5).
    The contamination generated in La Oroya is not only limited to this city, but it also pollutes distant areas like Concepcion, 100 km far away of Oroya: University of Missouri found lead in the blood of children with ages 0 to 6 years: 20 to 44 ug/dl in the 72.22% ; 10 to 19 ug/dl in the 16.67%; 45 to 69 ug/dl in the 8.33% and less than 10 ug/dl in the 2.78%; it means that the 97.22% of the children of the city of Conception are contaminated with more than 10 ug/dl of lead in their blood; the amount permitted was 10 ug/dl; but, at present the Academy of Paediatrics of USA says that the maximum allowed is 0 ug/dl of lead in the blood (14). In the rural zone near the Oroya, Cuchimachay there is an amount of 59.26 ppm (the allowed level being 3 ppm) of cadmium in the soil; there is no vegetal cap in this place (15).
    The metallurgic complex of Oroya has 37 liquid flows that go to the Mantaro river; Doe Run monitors only 12. The rules of the Peruvian state about monitoring of the quality of water in the mining works state that all the liquid discharges that go to surface waters must be constantly monitored (5-16).
    The 2006, 26 July Doe Run obtained the ISO 14001:2004 certificate (17) and the 2008, 11 March was removed because the company did not fulfull the Peruvian environmental laws, and did not have appropriate measures for preventing the pollution (18).
    Doe Run the 2007 commited 4 heavy and 1 simple violence environment that the Peruvian state had to put to Doe Run a fine to $ 724,500 (The Comercio 08. 20-12)
    In Huancayo, 120 km far away from La Oroya there is jurisprudence. In 1942 the Judiciary Power orders to the Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation, owner of Oroya at that time, to pay a compensation of $ 200,000 to Bazo Velarde, because of the harms caused to the Jatunhuasi Livestock, by the smokes of the Oroya (19).
    The Judiciary Power (20), the Constitutional Court (21) and the Inter American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH, for its name in Spanish) (22), demanded that the Peruvian state to be aware about the health of the inhabitants of Oroya..
    Oroya pollutes the surface and deep waters, the soil, the air, and generates acid rain (23), factors that cause damages to human and animal health, the ecosystems and biodiversity, in a way greatly irreversible. The smokes of the Oroya have affected 700,000 hectares around the Oroya (2-24).
    Doe Run will reduce its contamination in two circumstances: when it uses up to date technology as put in practice in Herculeanum, or when it reduces the refining tons. The Trial plant, in Canada, decreased in 25% the lead concentration in the children blood, and reduced the concentration of heavy metals in the air in more than 75%, by the use of clean technology; in the Paso when the foundry was closed, the lead concentration in the air decreased immediately and the lead concentration in the children’s blood plummeted by more than 75%; in Torreón Mexico, the government ordered to refine only a 50%, and similar effects were obtained (5). The damages must be paid by Doe Run according to the world consensus THE THAT POLLUTE PAY, set in practice in Europe since 1972 (25); the way as it does in Herculaneum can reply these actions in Oroya city (2-27).
    .The 2008 August 13 Oroya city has been confirmed as the most polluted city to the world. This day the SO2 concentration in air in the Oroya reached an historical and horrifying level: as journal The Comercio said (8); it arrive 27,000 ug/m3; while the allowed level was 13 ug/m3 (7) and the device that measured the concentration got to its maximum limit probably if the device had had more space in its scale that figure would have been higher (8-9-10), but when Blacksmith was visiting the Oroya the SO2 concentration in air was 0 (zero) (1). Some other figures confirm that Oroya is the most polluted city on the earth: according the report Mantaro Revive 2007: in the Ancienty Oroya has a soil concentration of 4713 ppm of arsenic (As) while the allowed amount is 12 ppm, and the cadmium (Cd) has 193.87 ppm while the permitted amount is 14 ppm, according to the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (28).

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