The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Overpopulation (#atozchallenge)





Manhattan as seen from the North-facing side o...
Manhattan as seen from the North-facing side of the Empire State Building observatory. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Overpopulation 

       "I guess when I think of Manhattan, I think of the city and how crowded it probably is and how I wouldn't want to deal with all those people," was how Patricia Lynne answered my question "What does Manhattan say to you?"

           Michele Truhlik from Angel's Bark elaborated a bit more on the idea of crowds in Manhattan.  "I've only been to Manhattan a few times but I remember fondly the times that I was there. I remember being shell-shocked at the sheer number of people on the streets when I emerged from Grand Central Station. I remember walking through Central Park."

          I can't remember ever having visited Central Park, but so many times I've seen the images on television and movies of the masses of people in the park.  It may be a place to get away from the city for a while, but rarely will you get away from the people.

         In Manhattan people seem to be everywhere and that's essentially because they are everywhere.  According to Wikipedia, New York city is the most populous city in the U.S. with over 8 million people which is more than 40% of the population of the entire state of New York.  Nearly two million people live in Manhattan alone.  Manhattan's population density is 66,940 persons per square mile and growing.

         Beyond the people who live in Manhattan we have millions of those who work in and visit the city on a daily basis.  The bottom line is that there are a lot of people condensed into a relatively small area of about 23 square miles.  Let's face it, the space on the ground for population expansion is limited so the only way to go for population is upward.  Hence Manhattan has not only the skyscrapers but large buildings constructed for housing.   Manhattan gives the old saying "The sky's the limit" a different perspective that what was likely intended when the saying was initially stated.

        The sheer number of people contained within the confines of a place that is essentially mostly an island seems like a frightening recipe for disaster.  Is there a practical plan for evacuating that many people in a quick efficient manner?   Manhattan has dealt with natural as well as man made events that have had dangerous potential and yet the city has managed to survive partly through the emergency plans set by government agencies and the cooperative will of the people who live there.

The Big Machine of Organized Population

        Geoff Maritz from Geoff's Blogs lives in South Africa but he wonders some of the same things that I have wondered as he lays out the following vision:

      Never been to Manhattan but the first thought that came to mind was an alleyway between brown brick buildings with a fenced off entrance and a waste skip next to a wall. Then immediately the image of a garbage barge full to the brim. It got me to wondering what they do with all the trash generated by so many people daily.

       Now there's a thought. The inner workings of big cities are fascinating to me as well.  An amazing feat taking care of all that garbage. I've heard that it's hauled off on barges, but I don't recall everywhere it goes. There have been disputes from some places that don't want Manhattan's garbage. The city, like all metropolitan areas throughout the world, must continually find new ways to recycle waste and dispose of it in ways that are not unsightly and don't damage the environment. 

        The entire concept of the infrastructure that serves Manhattan is mind boggling.  Getting electricity, energy sources, and water to that many people and maintaining the big machine that makes for a civilized society is unfathomable to most of us.  Then there is not only the aforementioned trash disposal, but also the disposal of waste from toilets and industrial waste.   Keeping a city running and maintaining a level of comfort for the masses of people who live there is an amazing undertaking that we rarely think about until something goes wrong.

Many People, Small Area

        When I drive across the wide empty expanses of places like West Texas or the Mojave Desert of Southern California I can't help but dismiss the idea of the Earth becoming overpopulated anytime soon.  Sustainability is always a concern, but somehow the ingenuity of the human mind seems to come up with answers to problems such as these.  We need safe water, clean air, and food in order to survive and the technology seems to be available for the most part.  Politics, corporate greed, and the evil machinations of powers and devious peoples are typcially the main things that block the way to a world where every person can live and work with the same necessities, conveniences, and luxuries available to others of wealthier means.

          Part of the answer to sustainability and cooperation between peoples can be found in Manhattan as well as other great cities of the world.   Overpopulation is a myth to some scientists while others predict doom, death, and destruction of a big world that is too small for humanity.  We've heard the prophecies for decades:  The Earth is going to die due to the abuse of those who live here and far too many of them at that.   

          No doubt that we need to be good stewards of this world we live in.   We need to recycle and not be engaged in needless waste.   The science fiction visions of migrations to other planets when we've killed this world make for entertaining stories, but I see little likelihood that this will happen.  If it does happen then it will be far beyond any of our lifetimes.   And if that time came, would we ever actually be ready. to evacuate our planet.  I guess it's kind of like evacuating Manhattan in a short time and getting everyone out safely.   And for that matter, if you are evacuating Manhattan is there any safe place the population can go?

          People populate a city because of opportunity.   They want jobs, money, comradery, exciting things to do.  A city is vibrant and it is vibrant because of the people.  The more people, the more there is to offer to many others who continue to flow Manhattanward.   A city is like a giant people magnet.   People continue to be drawn to the lights, the action, and other people.  Will it become overpopulated or will new ways be continually found to accommodate all of these people?

           It's a debate that has been going for years and will probably continue for many more.

          Do you believe that Manhattan is now facing overpopulation?   Will Manhattan ever reach an overpopulation breaking point?    How many people do you think the Earth can consistently sustain over a period of eons?  

  

55 comments:

  1. Overpopulation is one of the biggest problem faced by developed city.. Even with all its beauty few things makes it difficult to breathe..

    http://serendipityofdreams.blogspot.in/

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    1. Deepti, the future will hopefully hold many new solutions for comfortable living.

      Lee

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    2. I so much hope for those solutions.. :)


      http://serendipityofdreams.blogspot.in/2016/04/patterns-in-vision.html

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  2. You bring up some really interesting points. I never really thought about the trash collection and removal in Manhattan. I had heard some time back about trash being removed and dumped way out in the ocean but I think that has certainly stopped now, one would hope. Not sure if it was from NYC or not but I think it was.

    We're so overtaken by the glitz and the awesomeness of the City that we often fail to realize all that goes into running a city of that size. It's monumental for sure.

    Great read this morning Lee. Thanks for the shout out...

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, I've heard stories of garbage barges wandering in the ocean trying to find a place that will take their loads after being rejected in other places. They need to recycle more and find more ways for creating landfills closer to the city or using the garbage as fuel or something like that. Hopefully garbage isn't still being dumped in the ocean though I think a lot of it used to be.

      Lee

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  3. Overpopulation certainly is a problem.
    Thoughtful topic Lee and well put over.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, Big cities throughout the world are faced with dilemmas similar to NYC.

      Lee

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  4. Those are some really interesting stats and points. With so many people at one place, the situation to me seems like that in India. There is an explosion of population and then there are cities where most people are finding livelihood.

    Parul from Happiness & Food

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    1. Parul, India definitely has the population problems. Countries need to collaborate in order to fix things like overpopulation.

      Lee

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  5. Hi Lee - if only we could respect each other .. over-population wouldn't be such a major challenge - we could work it out ... somehow. I adapt as I hit London ... it's being prepared and dealing with it ... but - life is interesting in a variety of ways ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary, we adapt to the big city, but if things go wrong life can be miserable. I think about catastrophic infrastructure failure where I live and things probably wouldn't be pretty in some areas.

      Lee

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  6. Much respect, Arlee! This is brilliant! NYC has been 'over-populated' for each generation that experiences it. Like you, I've put it in perspective of the rest of the country. As far as what makes it work, I couldn't help but think of the 9/11 motto about New Yorkers ~ "Look for the Helpers". A lot of good people keep it going. :)
    https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/2016/04/18/me-in-the-middle-of-atozchallenge-letter-o/

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    1. MLQ, working together is a solution that has worked so far. This is why urban areas need to remain unified and in a cooperative frame of mind. Most people want this.

      Lee

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  7. It's mind blowing when you think about the planning it took to set it up.

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    1. Alex, it really is mind-blowing, but then the growth in NYC has been going on for 400 years with most of it happening in the past 100 or so. I guess in that time the city has been planned and then replanned more than once.

      Lee

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  8. Overpopulation is a huge problem, esp. in 3rd world countries. NYC is just way too crowded for me!!

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    1. JoJo, NYC is crowded, but still it seems to exist without too many unsolvable problems. I wouldn't want to be in those crowds, but I guess there can be some advantages at times.

      Lee

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  9. Super post and amazing photograph. We visited Tokyo a few years ago and the population there is overwhelming. Though I must say, the people are lovely and very organised.

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    1. Nicola, somehow in the right kind of circumstances large numbers of people can manage to get by quite civilly. If everyone exists with common purpose and consideration towards others then the large population situation can work.

      Lee

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  10. I guess I really love cities. I don't mind the concentration. But I DO think on a world level we should be worried about over population. We need a balance--area that is green to heal any damage done by men--the trees that clean our air so we can breathe. I'd love to see voluntary population limits--people committing to only replacing themselves. Some people won't have kids at all, so the population should slowly fall with just that.

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    1. Hart, sensible repopulation is a worthy goal, but unfortunately in places and among groups of people who can least afford the large families, those are the ones where the population boom is the greatest. We look at Europeans who have cut back to families with few or no children and see an aging population with a work force growing smaller so that they look elsewhere for younger people to come do the work. Hence we see the massive migrations of people from elsewhere which leads to new problems and new threats. Sustainibility in the future is something that needs to be addressed now.

      Lee

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  11. When you live in a big city like Manhattan you get used to the people and noise. You just do.

    While I did it when I was young, I wouldn't want to live in NYC today. Sometimes I debate the wisdom of living in Jacksonville. As you say, in the event of a disaster (of any kind), getting out becomes risky. It's safer, in many ways, to live in a more rural place.

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    1. Robin, I can get used to any situation. What else can we do? Bitching and moaning doesn't make anything better in life. Big cities have their advantages while rural life can have it's disadvantages. I guess we each need to put our wants and needs on the scale of decision and balance it all out.

      Lee

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  12. I was in Battery Park during the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty celebration in July 1986. There were a million + people at that Saturday. I had no idea there were that many people. It just felt like a festival crowd.

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    1. Em, to be on the fringes of a million people might not be so bad, but in the middle of a million? I don't guess you'd realize there were that many, but it would be scary if a panic ensued in a crowd that large.

      Lee

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  13. Outstanding post, Arlee! Astounding to think of that many people in such a small space and no one seems to feel cramped. Geoff brought up a very important point, though not one the folks here in Arizona often think of. It's all got to go somewhere. And speaking of going - I seem to recall a shortage of transportation (boats) off the island when terrorists struck our buildings.
    Gads, it makes me more grateful for wide-open spaces;-)

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    1. Diedre, I prefer wider open spaces, but the city can be fun for a visit.

      Lee

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  14. I grew up in The Bronx and Manhattan was our place to go play. In the last decade, the sheer number of people rushing to and fro has grown to be suffocating at times. As a wise man said, "Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

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    1. Stuart, I wonder if the line in the Green Acres theme song is a twist on that wise saying. Manhattan certainly does have a lot of people rushing around.

      Lee

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  15. Overpopulation can be a real problem; but it's not reduceable to number of people per square mile. It's whether they are safe, fed, have jobs, have interesting lives, and whether they are comfortable around large numbers of others. I don't think that Ma hattan is now overcrowded.

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    1. Pop Tart, I think cities like Manhattan have managed to deal with the numbers to the extent that the huge numbers of people is almost an illusion at times. On the streets or in the subways the evidence of the huge populace is obvious, but in other places things can seem peaceful and empty.

      Lee

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  16. Some truly amazing buildings in there.

    Don't think the planet is overpopulated yet, pockets are. Most world cities certainly are. Lots to see and do, but living there can be stressful. Good to visit and get back to sparsely inhabited spaces.

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    1. Nilanjana, there is a lot of empty expanse in our world. Some places you can go and wonder what all the speculation about overpopulation in the world is all about.

      Lee

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  17. I haven't been to New York in many years, but I loved Manhattan. I love all the people and the excitement. One of my sisters works in Manhattan. She's been there during some terrible emergencies, and has always gotten safely home to New Jersey. If the city is overpopulated to the point that people are uncomfortable and can't bear to live there, then some will move away. I have no idea how many people can live there without feeling unbearably crowded. I saw Manhattan move from an ugly place to one that's much more civilized. The last couple of times I went to New York, people were quite friendly. The police were a constant, though non-threatening presence. I have no idea what it's like now.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie, I think if we have our own private quarters that are safe and comfortable where we can retreat if we need to get away, the city is an okay place to be. It seems that Manhattan is still pretty decent from what I hear.

      Lee

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  18. Love going into the city - I'm only s couple of hours away by train. It was overwhelming my visit in Grand Central and out on the streets, but you quickly learn your way. It still amazes me how quickly they remove the snow off the streets and sidewalks in Manhatten!

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    1. Jeanne, the city is equipped for situations like snowfall. Thank goodness for organization within the infrastructure.

      Lee

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  19. I love the Manhatten accent. The earth can't sustain its population at the minute - we are using four planets worth of raw materials a year - soon it will all be used up. So that's a bit of a worry! How vulnerable is Manhatten to flooding? What will happen when the sea rises? Glad to get to the bottom of the list at last and start at the top! ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

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    1. Liz, still we seem to be getting by in this world. And people are becoming more aware of conservation and caring for the ecology. Flooding is hard to say though. I guess they will find solutions for these types of things.

      Lee

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  20. Being the mother of a large family I've heard all the overpopulation theories and the blame and dirty looks tossed in my direction. I like what you said about big cities being a people magnet, and also this:

    Politics, corporate greed, and the evil machinations of powers and devious peoples are typcially the main things that block the way to a world where every person can live and work with the same necessities, conveniences, and luxuries available to others of wealthier means.

    So people don't blame responsible parents of large families for the world's troubles. My children are all grown now and contributing to the world not taking away from it.

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    1. Karen, I don't think the big families are the problem, but it is the parents who don't take responsibility for the children they bring into the world who in turn become irresponsible adults. Unfortunately the problematic big families are the ones who can least afford it and then others have to shoulder the burden or the offspring perpetuate poverty, crime, and irresponsible behavior.

      Lee

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  21. I have to agree: for every crowded square mile in this country, there must be at least five that are practically uninhabited. For example, most of Illinois' population is relegated to the six counties around Chicago; drive a couple of miles out of Chicago on I-57 (which runs the length of the state) and you encounter practically no one for miles. I was always hoping, against all hope as it turned out, that we would be much closer to a world where everyone worked from wherever they were. Then, as long as you had Internet access, you can be anywhere in the world and work wherever you want. Granted, that requires miles and miles of cable to be laid, at least under the current scheme of how the Internet is available, but as technology like 4G gets more prevalent and is improved to 5G and above, maybe that'll become less of a limitation. Of course, there'd be a lot of pushback from the companies that currently control access to the Internet, and politicians would want to assert their authority over it... but that's a discussion for another day... ;)

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    1. John, I think it might be even more than 5 miles--maybe 10 or 20 or more. There are some truly vast empty spaces in our country. Of course a lot of land in places like Illinois is used for farming which is absolutely essential, but even still modern farming techniques can reduce the amount of land needed to produce an ongoing supply of food.
      There are a lot of answers for fixing our problems, but often they are stifled by companies who don't want to lose their hold on the stake of the economy they've claimed. So many concerns with solutions that are already known, but kept reined in from being put to use.

      Lee

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  22. Shoot, I feel crowded in Fort Wayne...

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    1. CW, Every time I go back to my "hometown" in Tennessee it seems like the place is built up more and has more traffic. Fort Wayne is bigger than Maryville, TN.

      Lee

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  23. The sheer number of people on Manhattan is one reason why I'd hesitate to visit. Hubby and I are crowd averse, so we try to avoid them whenever possible.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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    1. Patricia, last time I went it was on the train and then the subway. I actually don't remember much in the way of unbearable crowds other than the long line to go to the top of the Empire State Building. But maybe I was too busy taking everything in to notice the crowds.

      I'm not a fan of crowds either.

      Lee

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  24. What a beautiful picture. I love cities! I loved LA! We lived there from 1978-1985.

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    1. Gregg, it is a cool picture which is why I chose it. Wish I could say I took it but I didn't. Cities provide access to many things you don't get in smaller towns, but the small town life can have its advantages as well.

      Lee

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  25. It is congested but has been this way for decades. This is a problem, all the waste and all the people but they always find ways to combat this. If the population keeps growing and growing, as it is doing, I fear there will be some disease that will rectify this and weed out this population. Very sad but I think this may happen.

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    1. Birgit, actually from what I've read, Manhattan is probably much better now than it used to be even though now there are more people. Epidemic is probably the most likely doomsday scenario for Manhattan. It's really a horrible thought.

      Lee

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  26. I think that, yeah, there are a zillion people on this planet. But, I believe that Heavenly Father has it all accounted for and under control. People are born; people die. There are volcanoes, earthquakes, floods (which we're dealing with here tonight), famines, disease...all sorts of things out there that keep the population in check to a degree.

    In regards to one of your previous questions about movies or shows set in Manhattan, I had to think on it for awhile. My husband reminded me of one that we watched quite some time ago. You'll laugh, I'm sure, but here goes: My Little Pony: Rarity Takes Manehattan. Rarity is a fashion diva of sorts. It was a cute show.

    Thanks for another very interesting post. Have a great night!

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    1. Suzanne, I agree with you on your first paragraph. God told the people to be fruitful and multiply so I think He has given us a world where that can be accommodated.

      Have not heard of the "My Little Pony" take on Manhattan, but if the kids like it then it works I guess. I imagine my granddaughters have seen it because I know they watch that show.

      Lee

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  27. Overpopulation is truly something to think about. To be honest, I don't know how so many people prefer to live like that. I live a fairly large city. But even this city is perhaps too large for me.

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  28. I'd much rather the majority of the population be located in big cities. That keeps the rest of the country from being overcrowded.

    As I've said before, I really don't like big cities at all. However, If I had to pick a BIG city to live in, I'd pick Tokyo for many reasons.

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