Thursday, 13 March 2014

Bigger, Better or Bust?

Evan Davis, in his two part BBC2 study, "Mind The Gap, London v The Rest", available on I Player, reminded us of how London has become the dominant economic region of the UK and is becoming ever more powerful.

London is described as a Mega City, that is an urban area that has grown and taken in a good many close communities as well as making demands on the rest of the nation. 
This is excused because of the claims that a Mega City gives back in many ways.  He did not mention that if the Mega City has tax evasion, avoidance and large scale corruption and crime within its structure, not so much is given back.

Looking at the Atlantic Isles, he suggested that what might balance the situation better might be to hark back to the 19th Century when large provincial centres provided counter weights.  Although they did not rival London.

The location he felt might work was a Mega City of the North of England made up of Manchester and Leeds with all the towns between included, albeit with a lot of the green in the middle remaining to offset the intensity of the urban spread. 

Already Salford, across the bridge from Manchester, has complained about the possible loss of identity.  His fancy for Hebden Bridge to be the epicentre of this major upheaval may not go down well, they are a very individual group of people there.

One option would be to allow Cambridge to carry on growing, but this might connect it to London which defeats the object.  Another is the area of Tyne and Wear, in effect a new Northumbria.  But what would the people do there apart from fighting each other?

For the very few who look hard at the small print of the Scottish Independence question and think about the implications the SNP's real intentions assume that population growth through open migration will mean a Mega City in central Scotland.

The basis of this would be the twin pillars of oil and financial services resting on a client population dependent on social benefits, centralised control and a planned economy.  The difficulty here it a real Mega City is said to need ten million or more of population.

Smaller ones do not really happen or work but can just be junior partners to another Mega City.  The SNP will need to more than double Scotland's population in a short period to achieve viability as a Mega City.  It could be done by offering refugee status to all and sundry but it would hardly be Scotland for the Scots.

In the meantime anything can happen.  Recent historical findings suggest that a long period of arid weather systems in Central Asia a thousand years ago suddenly changed to a sustained period of mild and wet. 

The result was vast areas of grassland and that means forage and huge herds of horses and that meant Genghis Khan who ravaged territories to the south and west. While modern experts debate what weather systems are next Earth may have its own ideas.

It may be academic.  According to some the Earth's resources are finite and we are about to find out the hard way.  Along with these who wonder about whether Mega Cities generate impossible economic challenges.

Others, notably Elizabeth Kolbert in her new book "The Sixth Extinction; An Unnatural History" wonder if man may make a cataclysm of his very own by exterminating many of the species on which the critical ecology depends by destruction of habitats.

Evan Davis, along with others, was peddling the line that the Mega Cities were good, desired and necessary to our economic futures.  The trouble is that the figures do not add up and most important it ignores the question of forage and food.

Especially if twitches in weather systems change the whole basis of supply of those two critical elements.

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