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Film Review: The Urban Explosion

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The Urban Explosion

The purpose of this film was to spotlight four "mega cities," the problems they face or have faced, and how they have been/are being remediated. It was intended to be an educational film for use in a high school classroom. Their approach in presenting the information was to give a very brief overview of each city and the dire issue it faced, and then an equally brief solution used to mitigate the issue. Mexico City faced air and water pollution issues, as well as sinking land. The city's disastrous environmental issues can, in part, be contributed to it's location in a valley 1.5 km above sea-level. It is a closed ecosystem with not wind or rivers, and 8 out of 10 days it is not safe to be outside. In presenting Istanbul, the film-makers chose to use valuable time telling the story of the cit through the eyes of a local photographer. Istanbul faced housing, water shortage and water pollution issues, Shanghai faced smog--low grade coal is their primary source of non-automobile industrial pollution, traffic, water pollution and sewage problems, and New York City faced housing, air pollution and sewage issues. All of the cities faced issues in the wake of rapid change, and New York City was portrayed as the city that was the least worse off, as its infrastructure was planned to support larger populations from the beginning. "Sweat equity" co-op-style housing helped solve the Bronx's housing issue, a new land-use plan was needed to move all the treatment facilities and bus depots out of West Harlem, and open sewage was cleaned out from the Gowanus Canal that runs through Brooklyn. At the end of the film, the "right to sustainability" was identified as a "human rights issue of a fourth dimension."



Beall, Jo and Sean Fox. 2009. Cities and Development. New York, NY: Routledge.

Drakakis-Smith, David. 2000. Third World Cities. New York, NY: Routledge.

Seabrook, Jeremy. 2004. The No-Nonsense Guide to World Poverty. Brooklyn, NY: Verso.

UN DESA. 2008. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2008. New York, NY: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


Springbett, David. 1998. Growing Up in the World Next Door. Produced by Heather MacAndrew, David Springbett, and Barrie Howells. 58 mins. Asterisk Film and Videotape Productions Ltd.

Weiner, Hal. 2003. Journey to Planet Earth: Episode #2 "The Urban Explosion" Produced by Jeff Gray and Jason Parrott. 25 min. Screenscope, Inc.

Westfall, Matthew. 1990. On Borrowed



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