Video Of The Day: How Humans Have Fundamentally Changed The Earth

Over the past 250 years, humans have impacted the Earth irreversibly. This three-minute short film, commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, uses stunning visuals to show how population growth, combined with rapid industrialization and globalization, have contributed to a degree of global change on par with a major geological shift. In addition to being a feat of data imagery, the video is also a reminder for us of the need to tread lightly, both at home and in our travels.

UN: Urban Growth Set to Explode in Africa

In 1950, there were only two cities in Africa with more than one million inhabitants. They were both in Egypt (Cairo and Alexandria). In the 2008 version of continent, there are more than 40 urban centers with populations over 1 million. A report by the UN Human Settlements Programme projects that the number of Africans living in cities will double by 2030 to more than 700 million.

The image of an urban Africa is not one that usually comes to mind. Much of the continent’s tourism is still based on wildlife and the natural beauty of rural areas. It’s too early to tell if the landscape will totally change in the coming years.

Large cities are not growing rapidly, but mid-sized cities of between 500,000 and 1 million people are the ones that the UN report focuses on. These upstarts are growing at a rate that will see them soon rival or even eclipse the populations of current African mega-cities like Johannesburg and Nairobi.

[More on the UN Human Settlements Programme report]