Andrew Marr’s Megacities: Cities on the Edge

 

The second in the series on BBC one presents us with the topic of how megacities protect and prevent themselves from disaster. Marr made a very important point that most of the world’s megacities, with the exception of London, are prone to natural hazards – Dhaka with flooding, Tokyo with earthquakes. Marr explains that this is all due to the advantageous natural resources available in the area that settlers would have found necessary to develop, such as fertile soil that coincides with the positioning of fault lines and vulnerable coasts for trade.

However, the population densities of these cities have indeed escalated over time to the point where we have set up a rather potentially dangerous ‘social experiment’ leaving us with crime ridden neighbourhoods and even more catastrophic effects from flooding and earthquakes.

So, how have these cities responded?

Mexico City with it’s vibrant culture yet notorious crime rates finds itself armed with agencies designed to train middle class mothers how to beat kidnappers with MI5 style driving, they even make fashionable bullet proof clothing if you’re in fear of being a potential target. However, with high rates of trafficking, prostitution and kidnapping (at a shocking rate of around 500 a month – 80% occuring in the morning!) it’s no surprise. For the less well off Mexicans, ‘Santa Muerte’ or Saint Death offers comfort to those who have lost loved ones.

London has a brilliant set of riot police when society declines to a state of war – student riot flashbacks, anyone? I was also surprised to hear that the optimum temperature for rioting is between 27-32 degrees celsius due to increased release of seratonin in the body. It’s also a contributing factor to why people become more aggressive in small hot tube carriages, air conditioning sounds like a good idea right about now.

Charlotte Tidman

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