Coalition of the Confused

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Confused malcontents swilling Chardonnay while awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse.

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The Geography of Covid-19   World Wide WTF?

Started May-11 by Apollonius (Theocritos); 62 views.

This piece is by no means all doom and gloom.   The authors, both professional demographers, mostly just try to get a handle on what this pandemic means in terms of what communities will look like in the aftermath of covid, but they conclude with some alarming facts about the population of medieval Paris as compared to modern New York and London:

Plagues won’t kill off cities or end civilizations, but they could change their demographics, and discourage overly dense urbanization. Concerns about sanitation, overcrowding, and developing better healthcare delivery systems need to become priorities in developing and developed countries alike. History shows that pandemics leave lasting imprints that are capable of reversing urban growth for centuries. It took Paris, for example, 200 years to recover the population it lost to the plague years of the 14th century. The health problems associated with extremely high densities in cities like New York, especially the Lower East Side, led to policies and personal behaviors that dispersed the population from the early-to-late 20th century. According to US Census Bureau data, the population of Manhattan dropped from 2.33 million in 1910 to 1.42 million in 1980. By 2019, it had recovered only 200,000 of the more than 900,000 (little more than 20 percent) lost between 1910 and 1980.

This pattern may be repeating itself. The New York Times has reported that New York City lost 420,000 residents during the first two months of the pandemic. The city may have lost as many residents as it gained over the past half-century while London’s population has dropped by a reported 700,000 since 2019. So are dense urban cores doomed? Not at all, but high-density overcrowding will surely become less appealing. Instead, we will need to accept greater dispersion and hopefully greater emphasis on health as we try to address the vast and fundamentally unsustainable class chasm.

The geographies that will emerge from the COVID pandemic must be more capable of maintaining health standards and allowing for more work in remote or simply less crowded settings. Urbanity will survive but the great shift will be to those geographies better suited to meet the health challenges and seize technological opportunities that will define our era.