The 10 most populous islands in the world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The most populous islands in the world

In order to identify the most populous islands in the world, we need to define what an island is and what it is not.

Technically, Australia fits the definition of an island: a mass of land surrounded entirely by water. But geographers go a step further to note that a mass of land cannot be both a continent and an island. For our purposes of identifying the most populous islands in the world, continents are out.

According to World Atlas, there are too many islands to count, as they exist in lakes, seas and oceans. Some islands deserve an honorable mention for being so densely populated, like Santa Cruz del Islote, with 500 people living in 115 houses on an island the size of two soccer fields.

The islands on our list have the largest population, regardless of the island’s overall size.

10. Borneo – 21.3 million people

Credit: zodebala / iStock

The third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia, Borneo is bordered by Java and Sumatra, two other islands on our list, and is renowned for its beaches, diving locations and lush rain forest landscape. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunel make up Borneo’s political position.

9. Sri Lanka – 21.44 million people

Credit: Milan Chudoba / istockphoto

Located at the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is a gorgeous island rich in its cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity. Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka its #1 travel destination in 2019.

8. Taiwan – 23.76 million people

Credit: Sean Pavone / iStock

Across 13,974 square miles, Taiwan holds the sixth spot of the most populous islands in the world, but by 2021 that may not be the case. The declining birth rate is attributed to long hours working away from home, which is not conducive to family life. Taiwan is the largest economy not a member of the United Nations.

7. Mindanao, Philippines – 25.53 million people

Credit: atosan / iStock

This Philippine island is the second largest island of the archipelago after Luzon. Mount Apo is the highest peak in the Philippines and an active volcano. Mindanao is the most religiously and culturally diverse of the Philippine islands.

6. Madagascar – 25.57 million people

Credit: guenterguni / iStock

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. While only 250 miles from Africa, most of the population is more closely related to the people in Indonesia, over 3,000 miles away. Wind patterns are attributed to the island’s settlement. Even wildlife is less like Africa and unique to Madagascar.

5. Luzon, Philippines – 49.52 million people

Credit: Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock.com

Almost half of the Philippine population lives on the island of Luzon, the 15th largest island in the world. Luzon is one of the islands in the 7,641 Philippine archipelago, and only 2,000 of those islands are populated.

4. Sumatra, Indonesia – 50 million people

Credit: pawopa3336 / iStock

The fourth-most populous island is Sumatra, an Indonesian island to the south of Java. Sumatra is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, including the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, because it lies between two tectonic plates. Coffee is its most well-known export, but Sumatra is also a major player in natural gas, crude petroleum, rubber, cocoa and palm oil.

3. Great Britain – 61 million people

Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Great Britain is the world’s third most populous island. More generally referred to as Britain, the island consists of England, Scotland and Wales, three countries in Europe. The size of Britain’s population gives perspective to the islands of Java and Honshu (keep reading), as their populations greatly exceed Britain’s.

2. Honshu, Japan – 103 million people

Credit: Phattana / iStock

Japan is considered an archipelago, a cluster of islands. In this case, there are 6,852 islands, with Honshu being its most densely populated. Most of the country’s major cities can be found on Honshu, including Tokyo. Honshu is also home to Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1707.

1. Java, Indonesia – 140 million people

Credit: lkunl / shutterstock

The world’s most populous island is Java, an island of Indonesia. It is only the fourth largest island in Indonesia, but 57 percent of the country lives on Java. Located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, 35 out of 112 of Java’s volcanoes are active. In case you are wondering, Indonesia’s earliest coffee plantations were started on Java. Pun intended.

Why are there so many islands in Indonesia?

Credit: joakimbkk / iStock

You may have noticed several of the most populous islands in the world can be found in Indonesia. Indonesia is counting them and estimates there are 14,572 named islands and thousands more yet to be named. Its status as the largest archipelago in the world is an important distinction because its waterways are considered the most important in the world. The more islands it claims, the more waterways it can control for the country’s economically abundant trade industry.

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity

Peter Melnik, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, owns Bar-Way Farm, Inc. in Deerfield, Mass. He has an anaerobic digester on his farm that converts food waste into renewable energy.

Allison Aubrey/NPR

This story was produced as part of a collaboration with the PBS NewsHour

As the season of big holiday meals kicks off, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on just how much food goes to waste.

If you piled up all the food that’s not eaten over the course of a year in the U.S., it would be enough to fill a skyscraper in Chicago about 44 times, according to an estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And, when all this food rots in a landfill, it emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In fact, a recent report from the United Nations from a panel of climate experts estimates that up to 10 percent of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions are linked to food waste.

So, here’s one solution to the problem: Dairy farmers in Massachusetts are using food waste to create electricity. They feed waste into anaerobic digesters, built and operated by Vanguard Renewables, which capture the methane emissions and make renewable energy.

The process begins by gathering wasted food from around the state, including from many Whole Foods locations. We visited the chain’s store in Shrewsbury, Mass., which has installed a Grind2Energy system. It’s an industrial-strength grinder that gobbles up all the scraps of food the store can’t sell, explains Karen Franczyk, who is the sustainability program manager for Whole Foods’ North Atlantic region.

The machine will grind up all kinds of food waste — “everything from bones, we put whole fish in here, to vegetables to dry items like rice or grains,” Franczyk says as the grinder is loaded. It also takes frying fats and greases.

Watch a video on farms turning food waste into renewable energy, in collaboration with PBS NewsHour.

YouTube

While Whole Foods donates a lot of surplus food to food banks, there’s a lot waste left over. Much of it is generated from prepping prepared foods. Just as when you cook in your own kitchen, there are lots of bits that remain, such as onion or carrot peel, rinds, stalks or meat scraps. The grinder turns all these bits into a slurry. “It really becomes kind of a liquefied food waste,” Franczyk says.

From here, the waste is loaded into a truck and sent to an anaerobic digester. “There’s no question it’s better than putting it in the trash,” Franczyk says. She says the chain is committed to diverting as much waste as possible and aims for zero waste. In addition to food donations, Whole Foods composts; this waste-to-energy system is yet another way to meet its goal. “We really do like the system,” she says.

We visited Bar-Way Farm, Inc. in Deerfield, Mass. Owner Peter Melnik, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, showed us how his anaerobic digester, which is installed next to his dairy barn, works.

“We presently take in about a 100 tons [of waste], which is about three tractor-trailer loads, every day,” Melnik says.

In addition to all the food waste from Whole Foods, he gets whey from a Cabot Creamery in the area, as well as waste from a local brewery and a juice plant.

In the digester on his farm, Melnik combines food waste from Whole Foods and other local sources with manure from his cows. The mixture cooks at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. As the methane is released, it rises to the top of a large red tank with a black bubble-shaped dome.

Allison Aubrey/NPR

In the digester, he combines all of this waste with manure from his cows. The mixture cooks at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. As the methane is released, it rises to the top of a large red tank with a black bubble-shaped dome.

“We capture the gas in that bubble. Then we suck it into a big motor,” Melnik explains. Unlike other engines that run on diesel or gasoline, this engine runs on methane.

“This turns a big generator, which is creating one megawatt of electricity” continuously, Melnik says — enough to power more than just his farm. “We only use about 10 percent of what we make, and the rest is fed onto the [electricity] grid,” Melnik explains. It’s enough to power about 1,500 homes.

He says times are tough for dairy farmers, so this gives him a new stream of revenue. Vanguard pays him rental fees for having the anaerobic digester on his farm. In addition, he’s able to use the liquids left over from the process as fertilizer on his fields.

A large motor (housed inside here) runs on the methane gas captured in the digester. This motor powers a generator, which creates electricity — enough to power about 1,500 homes.

Allison Aubrey/NPR

“The digester has been a home run for us,” Melnik says. “It’s made us more sustainable — environmentally [and] also economically.”

Vanguard Renewables hopes to expand its operations in the state and elsewhere. “There’s more than enough food waste in Massachusetts to feed all of our five digesters, plus many more,” says CEO John Hanselman.

Massachusetts has a state law that prohibits the disposal of commercial organic waste — including food — by businesses and institutions that generate at least one ton of this waste per week. This has created an incentive for food businesses to participate in the waste-to-energy initiative.

Hanselman points to Europe, where there are thousands of digesters in operation. His hope is that the concept will spread here. “The food waste recycling through anaerobic digestion could be done in every part of the country,” Hanselman says.

The company is currently building an anaerobic digester on a farm in Vermont. The gas produced there will be piped to Middlebury College, which will help the college reduce its carbon footprint.

Israel: In possible climate breakthrough, Israel scientists engineer bacteria to eat CO₂

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In possible climate breakthrough, Israel scientists engineer bacteria to eat CO₂

Decade-long research at Weizmann Institute could pave way for low-emissions production of carbon for use in biofuels, food, and help remove excess global warming CO₂ from air

E. coli bacteria. (NIAID/Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY 2.0)

E. coli bacteria. (NIAID/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

In a remarkable breakthrough that could pave the way toward carbon-neutral fuels, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have produced a genetically engineered bacteria that can live on carbon dioxide rather than sugar.

The extraordinary leap — reported Wednesday in Cell, and quickly picked up by prestigious publications such as Nature — could lead to the low-emissions production of carbon for use in biofuels or food that would also help to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, where it is helping to drive global warming.

Plants and ocean-living cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis, taking the energy from light to transform CO₂ into a form of organic carbon that can be used to build DNA, proteins and fats.

As these photosynthesizers can be difficult to moderate genetically, the Weizmann team, under Prof. Ron Milo, took E. coli bacteria — more commonly associated with food poisoning — and spent ten years weaning them off sugar and training them to “eat” carbon dioxide instead.

Through genetic engineering, they enabled the bacteria to convert CO₂ into organic carbon, substituting the energy of the sun — a vital ingredient in the photosynthesis process — with a substance called formate, which is also attracting attention as a potential generator of clean electricity.

Prof Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Sciences. (Screenshot)

To get the bacteria to move from a sugar to a carbon dioxide diet, the team, which also included Roee Ben-Nissan, Yinon Bar-On and others in the institute’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, then almost starved the bacteria of sugar (glucose), while giving them plenty of carbon dioxide and formate, and bred several generations to test whether evolution would allow some of the bacteria to mutate and be able to survive solely on CO₂.

After a year, some of the bacteria descendants made the complete switch to CO₂, following evolutionary changes in just 11 genes.

The lab bacteria that moved over to a CO₂ diet were fed very high amounts of the gas. However, under regular atmospheric conditions, they would still need sugar, as well, to live.

“Our lab was the first to pursue the idea of changing the diet of a normal heterotroph [one that eats organic substances] to convert it to autotrophism [‘living on air’],” said Milo. “It sounded impossible at first, but it has taught us numerous lessons along the way, and in the end we showed it indeed can be done. Our findings are a significant milestone toward our goal of efficient, green scientific applications.”

JOIN US!
A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR OF TIMES OF ISRAEL
DAVID HOROVITZ

For as little as $6 a month, you can help support our independent journalism — and enjoy special benefits and status as a Times of Israel Community member!

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We’ve achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY
READ MORE:

Iran: Air Pollution Shuts Schools in Iran’s Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Air Pollution Shuts Schools in Iran’s Capital

Wednesday, 13 November, 2019 – 12:30
In the Nov. 14, 2016, Tehran is shrouded in a blanket of brown-white smog as the first of the winter’s heavy pollution hit the city. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Schools in Tehran were ordered to be closed on Wednesday after the Iranian capital was cloaked in dangerously high levels of air pollution, authorities said.

Governor Anoushiravan Mohseni-Bandpey said kindergartens, preschools and primary schools would be shut in the city and the counties of Gharchak, Pishva and Varamin.

“The air quality index for the city of Tehran still has not passed the unhealthy status for sensitive groups,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Average concentrations of hazardous airborne particles hit 133 micrograms per cubic meter in the city and were as high as 150 for 10 districts, he said.

That is far above the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum of 25 micro-grams per cubic meter on average over a 24-hour period.

Warnings were issued for children, pregnant women, the elderly and people suffering from cardio-vascular or respiratory diseases to stay indoors.

Many people were seen wearing face masks to avoid fumes as they waited for buses on the sides of traffic-choked streets of southern Tehran during morning rush-hour.

A layer of thick smog covered Tehran on Tuesday, but it appeared to dissipate in northern areas on Wednesday morning with fewer school buses on the roads.

Air pollution was the cause of nearly 30,000 deaths per year in Iranian cities, IRNA reported earlier this year, citing a health ministry official.

Each winter, Iran’s sprawling capital suffers some of the worst pollution in the world through thermal inversion — a phenomenon that traps hazardous air over the city.

According to a World Bank report last year, most of the pollution in the city of eight million inhabitants is caused by heavy duty vehicles, motorbikes, refineries and power plants.

India air pollution at ‘unbearable levels’, Delhi minister says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

India air pollution at ‘unbearable levels’, Delhi minister says

In the smog, a large crowd of Hindu worshippers entering the River YamunaImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Worshipers braved the smog to enter the polluted River Yamuna as part of the Hindu religious festival of Chatth Puja

Air pollution in the north of India has “reached unbearable levels,” the capital Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvid Kejriwal says.

In many areas of Delhi air quality deteriorated into the “hazardous” category on Sunday with the potential to cause respiratory illnesses.

Authorities have urged people to stay inside to protect themselves.

Mr Kejriwal called on the central government to provide relief and tackle the toxic pollution.

Schools have been closed, more than 30 flights diverted and construction work halted as the city sits in a thick blanket of smog.

A sign reading "Keep Delhi clean" with a thick smog in the backgroundImage copyright AFP
Image caption Only cars with odd or even number plates can drive on given days in a bid to reduce pollution

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain advised the city’s residents to “avoid outdoor physical activities, especially during morning and late evening hours”.

The advisory also said people should wear anti-pollution masks, avoid polluted areas and keep doors and windows closed.

How bad is the smog?

Levels of dangerous particles in the air – known as PM2.5 – are far higher than recommended and about seven times higher than in the Chinese capital Beijing.

An Indian health ministry official said the city’s pollution monitors did not have enough digits to accurately record pollution levels, which he called a “disaster”.

Presentational white space

Five million masks were handed out in schools on Friday as officials declared a public health emergency and Mr Kejriwal likened the city to a “gas chamber”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says a third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.

“This is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco,” the WHO says on its website.

How are people reacting?

Mr Kejriwal’s most recent comments are unlikely to please government officials, reports the BBC’s South Asia regional editor Jill McGivering. She said Indian politicians were blaming each other for the conditions.

On Sunday young people in Delhi came out to protest and demand action.

“You can obviously see how terrible it is and it’s actually scary you can’t see things in front of you,” said Jaivipra.

A protester holding a sign that says: "Can't decide whether air quality or economy is falling faster"Image copyright AFP
Image caption Angry protesters compared the pollution to India’s sluggish economy

She said she wanted long-term and sustainable anti-pollution measures put in place.

“We are concerned about our futures and about our health but we are also fighting this on behalf of the children and the elderly who bear the biggest brunt of the problem here,” she said.

Some ministers have sparked controversy on social media by suggesting light-hearted measures to stay healthy.

Harsh Vardhan, the union minister for health and family welfare, urged people to eat carrots to protect against “night blindness” and “other pollution-related harm to health”.

Presentational white space

Meanwhile, Prakash Javadekar, the minister of the environment, suggested that you should “start your day with music”, adding a link to a “scintillating thematic composition”.

“Is that the reason you have turned deaf ears to our plight on pollution?” one Twitter user responded. “Seems you are too busy hearing music that you are not able to hear us!”

What’s caused the pollution?

A major factor behind the high pollution levels at this time of year is farmers in neighboring states burning crop stubble to clear their fields.

A row of police wearing facemasks to protect themselves from the toxic smogImage copyright AFP
Image caption Police are wearing face masks to protect themselves from the toxic smog

This creates a lethal cocktail of particulate matter, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide – all worsened by fireworks set off during the Hindu festival Diwali a week ago.

Vehicle fumes, construction and industrial emissions have also contributed to the smog.

Indians are hoping that scattered rainfall over the coming week will wash away the pollutants but this is not due until Thursday.

Media caption Residents have been donning high-grade masks to counter the smog

On Hong Kong, the US must find its voice

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

ORDER FROM CHAOS

On Hong Kong, the US must find its voice

Ryan Hass and Susan A. Thornton

Editor’s Note:This piece is part of the ongoing collaboration between the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings and the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School. Learn more here.

Many different people are looking at the ongoing turbulence in Hong Kong from different perspectives. This includes politicians in other countries and those with all manner of agendas in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, East Asia, and further afield. Most businesspeople wish for a return to stability and a restoration of the status quo ante. Many other observers are rooting for the voices of the people of Hong Kong to be heard in an overbearing political environment. Some are clamoring for a fight and want to see Beijing’s nose bloodied.

Authors

Susan A. Thornton

Senior Fellow – Paul Tsai China Center, Yale Law School

Former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs – U.S. Department of State

There is no doubt about Beijing’s agenda. In the near term, it wants the protests halted and the protesters quashed. While Beijing would prefer Hong Kong authorities to do what’s necessary to restore order, they also have removed any pretense of subtlety about their willingness to take matters into their own hands, should they deem it necessary. Over the medium term, Beijing would like to tighten control over Hong Kong and prevent it from becoming enveloped in instability again.

Hong Kong authorities likewise seek to restore calm and the protect the city’s reputation as an orderly, business-friendly, and open environment. This will be difficult. The protests have shed light on deep public dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Millions of people have gone to the streets to resist the erosion of civil and political rights that the Hong Kong people were promised. They have expressed anger that hopes of upward mobility are being taken away, as the trappings of the city’s prosperity increasingly are being concentrated in the hands of the politically connected. These resentments have sown the seeds of public protest, and even led some to advocate provoking or resorting to violence as a way to reach amorphous goals.

Many people in the United States and elsewhere want to use events in Hong Kong to punish or undermine Beijing. This is a dominant and understandable impulse in the West. After all, irrespective of whether the idea to ram through an extradition law was initiated by authorities in Hong Kong or Beijing, the effort was designed to support Beijing’s desire to gain greater control over events in Hong Kong.

Even as anger is warranted, sobriety is needed. Policymakers must think carefully about how the United States should respond to unfolding events. The measure of success is not projection of strength, but rather protection of American interests.

The United States has direct interests in Hong Kong. Over 85,000 American citizens live there, and nearly 1,400 American businesses operate there. The U.S. trade surplus in Hong Kong in 2017 was $32.6 billion. In other words, U.S. economic interests in Hong Kong are significant.

Given these direct interests, the U.S. has a strong incentive to support efforts to preserve Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its model of a vibrant, open, rule-of-law society that is a part of China. The use of violence by any side in the ongoing confrontation undermines American interests. It would run counter to American interests for Beijing to weaken Hong Kong, including by narrowing its autonomy, e.g., by eroding legal, judicial, media, assembly, or speech freedoms. By the same token, the peaceful exercise of political freedoms by protesters provides a stronger likelihood of long-term stability than actions that precipitate the imposition of tighter political controls.

The United States also has an interest in defending American values and its example. The world is watching to see whether the U.S. stands up for the right to free speech and peaceful political protest, rights that are enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law. No matter what Washington does or does not do, Beijing will complain about American “interference” in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. There is no reward to be gained for silence on Hong Kong. But there will be significant and lasting costs if the United States abandons support for peaceful demonstrators.

There will be significant and lasting costs if the United States abandons support for peaceful demonstrators.

The U.S. response must be guided by these interests, including by:

  • Calling for calm and condemning violence. As obvious as this seems, it is not happening now. The United States government must not grow mute on its position on violent protests, violent crackdowns on protesters, or vandalism and destruction of property.
  • Defending the right to peaceful protest, while at the same time insisting that a broadly supported peaceful resolution of differences is the only acceptable endgame.
  • Urging Hong Kong authorities and protest leaders to work toward solutions. When every grievance gets expressed through mass protests, the city increasingly will become a powder keg, at which point any event could become a fuse that sets off confrontation.
  • Expressing support for stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, including by emphasizing that stability and prosperity are underpinned by an open society, maximum autonomy, transparent and fair administration of the law, and the expansion of political participation.
  • Openly and directly rejecting the canard that the United States is instigating or directing the protests.
  • Proactively and privately emphasizing to Beijing through diplomatic channels that any actions by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to leave garrison to suppress peaceful protests would cause grievous damage to U.S.-China relations. Washington also should encourage other similarly concerned countries to reinforce this message with Beijing as well.

American interests will neither be protected by complacent disregard of events in Hong Kong nor by overzealous efforts to strip away recognition of Hong Kong’s special status, which would do more to harm the people of Hong Kong than to influence Beijing’s decisionmaking. Silence on Hong Kong or praise for President Xi Jinping’s handling of the protests will not make a U.S.-China trade deal easier to achieve. By the same token, demands or prescriptions of how the ongoing standoff between protesters and authorities should be resolved would be counterproductive. The United States should not narrow Hong Kong’s space to negotiate a way out of the current impasse.

Hong Kong matters greatly to American interests. The United States needs to stand firm on principle and act steadily in defense of its interests. The United States has navigated through similar challenges in Hong Kong in the past. It needs to regain that muscle memory again in the present.

A how-to guide for managing the end of the post-Cold War era. Read all the Order from Chaos content »

The Most Populous Cities Throughout History

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Most Populous Cities Throughout History

Over the course of human history, the ranking of the most populous cities has changed many times over. Jericho was the most populous city back in 9000 BCE. Now it is Tokyo, thousands of miles away. Population growth, climate change, and political shifts are largely responsible for moving the world’s biggest urban centers, but there are truly countless reasons as to why populations move and fluctuate.

When evaluating the most populous cities throughout history, archaeologists look at the total estimated global population to determine the cultural hubs of the period. Before the widespread use of recorded history, many cultures relied on oral traditions to help keep their chronicles alive. Because of this, it is challenging to calculate how many people lived in cities before recorded history.

But historians have done their best to determine where populations converged throughout history. These cities were at one point considered to be the biggest in the world.

Jericho, West Bank

Credit: Gosiek-B / iStock

Population in 9000 BCE: 2,000; current population: 14,674

Most academics agree that Jericho is among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places, as settlements have been uncovered dating back to 9000 BCE. Jericho is considered the oldest and most populous city throughout history. It is located near Mt. Nebo and the Dead Sea in what is now the West Bank. The plentiful natural irrigation from the Jordan River makes it an ideal ancient city for long-term habitation.

Uruk, Iraq

Credit: Marcus Cyron / Wikimedia

Population in 3500 BCE: 4,000; current population: Uninhabited

Uruk was once an agricultural hub that lay the foundation of Mesopotamia. However, Uruk is no longer inhabited. Nestled between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, Uruk was once a thriving trade center that specializes in local crafts, writing, and grain.

Mari, Syria

Credit: Heretiq / Wikimedia

Population in 2400 BCE: 50,000; current population: Uninhabited

Researchers discovered a large population migration from Uruk to Mari, indicating a flourishing trade and livelihood in that region of Mesopotamia. Estimates place the population of Mari, which is located in what is now Syria, at 50,000 people in 2400 BCE. It was the trade capital of the region and had a fully functioning government and recorded history.

Ur, Iraq

Credit: M.Lubinski / Wikimedia

Population in 2100 BCE: 100,000; current population: Uninhabited

Ur was a very rich city in 2100 BCE, with a huge amount of luxury items made from precious metal and semi precious stones. After 500 BCE, Ur was no longer inhabited due to drought and changing river patterns. Today, the Iraqi city of Tell el-Muqayyar is at the site of Ur.

Yinxu, China

Credit: tak.wing / flickr

Population in 1300 BCE: 120,000; current population: uninhabited

Eventually, the world’s biggest population centers shifted away from the Middle East. The earliest forms of Chinese writing can be found in the modern day ruins at Yinxu, sometimes written as two words (Yin Xu). At its height, this city was the academic center of the Chinese world.

Carthage, Tunisia

Credit: CJ_Romas / iStock

Population in 300 BCE: 500,000; current population: 20,715

Located in present-day Tunisia, Carthage was an enlightened civilization until drought and famine sped up the decline of this ancient city. It was not until 1985 that the mayors of Carthage and Rome officially ended their 2,000-year-old conflict.

Rome, Italy

Credit: mammuth / iStock

Population in 200 CE: 1,200,000; current population: 2,754,440

What started as a small village a thousand years ago is now a bustling metropolis. In 200 CE, Rome was the most populated city in the world. It is no secret that Rome has been one of the longest occupied settlements and for a good reason. As a center for government, politics, religion, fashion, ancient history, archaeological sites and culture, it is still a top travel destination for millions of people.

Beijing, China

Credit: Sean Pavone / iStock

Population in 1500: 1,000,000; current population: 22,000,000

Still one of the world’s most populous cities, Beijing broke out around 1500, when it relied on grain and monetary taxes from the population to feed and supply the city. However, that was not enough. The population was so large that commerce destroyed all of the forests in the region. This irrevocably changed the ecosystem in the area.

London, England

Credit: ZoltanGabor / iStock

Population in 1825: 1,335,000; current population: 13,945,000

During the pinnacle of the British Empire, crime and terror in London ran rampant. The city was considered unsafe. However, this did not stop people from finding their way in the Empire’s capital. Today, it remains a global capital that welcomes millions of visitors every year.

Tokyo, Japan

Credit: yongyuan / iStock

Population in 2000: 20,500,000; current population: 36,000,000

After this trip through history, we arrive at the present day. Tokyo is the most populous city in the modern world, home to an astounding 36 million people in its metropolitan area. There was a brief interlude following World War II until Tokyo recovered economically. Prosperity and a strong bond to Japanese tradition, family, and history maintain Tokyo’s high population today.

The draw and allure of cities continue to bring human civilization closer and closer together. Currently, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban centers, and this number is expected to climb. The current practice of census-taking will undoubtedly help future historians.

India will be most populous country by 2027: UN

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India will be most populous country by 2027: UN

According to a UN report, India will overtake China to become the world’s most populous country in 2027.

INDIA Updated: Jul 11, 2019 05:50 IST

Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
population explosion,population boom,india population boom
The world’s population is projected to increase by 2 billion people, from 7.7 billion now to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to the UN report.(AFP File Photo)

India and Nigeria will host the two fastest growing populations over the next three decades, with India adding 273 million people and Nigeria 200 million by 2050, the rapid pace fuelled by vastly different factors, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects 2019 report.

India will overtake China to become the world’s most populous country in 2027, according to the report. The world’s population is projected to increase by 2 billion people, from 7.7 billion now to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to the report.

While India’s population will increase because of a large cohort of young people who will enter their reproductive age over the next three decades, which will add “population momentum” even if births fall to two children or less per woman, Nigeria’s population will be driven by women having many more children.

India’s total fertility rate (TFR, the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime) ) is 2.2, with half of the country’s population in 24 states having reached “replacement TFR” of 2.1 or less, which is number of children per woman at which a population replaces itself and stops growing. In Nigeria, the TFR is 5.4.

“Even if the TFR across all states were to fall immediately to two births or less per woman, India’s population would continue to grow, as it will in countries and regions where fertility has declined recently. In India, Latin America and the Caribbean, virtually all of the projected population growth till 2050 will be driven by the population momentum from a largely young population,” AR Nanda, former secretary, Union ministry of health, and trustee, Indian Association for the Study of Population, said ahead of the World Population Day on Thursday. “The National Population Policy 2000 had projected TFR will reach around 2.1, which will show when the Sample Registration System data comes out in 2020. Contraceptives and spacing methods, including male contraception, have to be made widely available, especially to adolescents and young adults, who get missed,” said Nanda.

Addressing high TFR in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar must remain a priority, say experts. “People must have access to uninterrupted quality services and social development support, such as nutrition, health, sanitation and infrastructure, to ensure they have the tools and the information to have the desired family size,” said Rajib Acharya, senior associate, Population Council of India.

Budgetary allocation for health went up by 15% this year, from ₹56,045 crore in 2018-19 (revised estimates), to ₹64,559 crore in 2019-20. But while the allocation for the National Health Mission went up by 8% over the previous year to ₹32,995 crore, the share of the Reproductive and Child Health flexipool out of the approved NHM funds has halved in four years, from 40% in 2016-17 to 20% in 2019-20, which some demographers find worrying.

“A major chunk of the increased allocation for NHM is driven by health system strengthening, which increased by around 12% over last year…,” said a health ministry official, who did not want to be named.

First Published: Jul 11, 2019 05:43 IST

China: Pudong facility converts waste to fertilizer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Pudong facility converts waste to fertilizer

Pudong facility converts waste to fertilizer

Ti Gong

The factory in the Pudong New Area uses technology of hydrothermal reaction to process wet waste.

A facility that can process 100 tons of wet waste a day has been set up in the Pudong New Area, using technology developed by a team from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The facility in Gaodong Town uses hydrothermal reaction, also known as wet oxidation, to process waste. It stimulates the process of how organic matter is turned into chemicals and fuel in nature but speeds it up under high temperatures and high water pressure.

“Each batch of wet waste can be transferred into liquid and solid fertilizers within an hour,” said Jin Fangming, a professor leading the research. “In the whole process, it will not generate any stink or pollutants.”

Jin said the liquid produced can be used as agricultural or aquatic fertilizer directly. The solid residue can not only be used as fertilizer, but also to make products to improve polluted soil, sandy land, polluted air and water.

Jin said traditionally household garbage is either burned or ends up in landfills. But burning causes poisonous pollutants, and landfills are also likely to pollute the environment as they produce leakage and methane. Composting is a new choice for some families to deal with their kitchen waste, but the process is long and inefficient, and also produces odor and residue.

“Instead, the hydrothermal-reaction solution is more eco-friendly as it does not produce odors or pollutants,” she said.

Her team began testing the technology in a canteen on a campus of the university in Minhang District two years ago and dealt with 100 kilograms of kitchen waste a day.

In March this year, they received investment from Zhengjun Environmental Science and Technology Co and the two built the factory in Gaodong to handle 100 tons of wet waste a day. The solution is so efficient that it covers an area of just 60 square meters.

The factory began pilot operation on July 1 and has proven very efficient. It is now ready for real industrial application.

Jin has been researching generating electricity from household waste by hydrothermal-reaction technology for more than 20 years. She has also found solutions to create different conditions for the reaction to produce highly value-added products, such as humic, formic, acetic and lactic acids.

Pudong facility converts waste to fertilizer

Yang Meiping / SHINE

Jin Fangming, a professor leading the research, demonstrates the application of liquid and solid fertilizers produced from wet waste.

Yemen Urges Int’l Pressure to Curb Potential Oil Spill in Red Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Yemen Urges Int’l Pressure to Curb Potential Oil Spill in Red Sea

Wednesday, 26 June, 2019 – 08:45
A ship carrying a shipment of grain is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad
Aden – Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Yemeni government renewed calls on the United Nations to pressure Houthi militias into allowing international teams to prevent the breakout of a potentially disastrous oil spill at the Safir offshore oil platform, which floats off Hodeidah’s northern coast.

In an address to the UN Secretary General, Yemeni Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami stressed the need to get Houthis to grant the international body’s probing technicians access to Safir.

The facility contains more than one million barrels of crude oil pumped before Houthis staged a nationwide coup four years ago. The Iran-backed insurgents refuse allowing the internationally-recognized government from exporting that oil, and threaten blowing up the naval facility if they are not allowed to sell the oil reserves themselves.

Any explosion at Safir will cause a catastrophic oil spill with irreversible environmental damage.

Apart from Houthi threats of attack, Hadrami warned against the  Houthis’ continued blocking of assessment teams from examining the reservoir, which he said was in a corrosive condition that could lead up to a shocking environmental disaster that would contaminate Red Sea and regional waters.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, President of the Revolutionary Council, a body formed by the militants, had tabled an offer previously to sell the oil reserves stored in Safir and have the freely-elected government and insurgents split revenues.

Hadrami, for his part, stressed the government’s keenness to its long-standing demand for solutions on this particular issue. He underscored that the government has cooperated fully with the UN in this regard and is waiting for experts to evaluate the development of an effective strategy.

The Yemeni deputy foreign minister also placed blame on the militias for causing an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

According to official sources, Hadrami stressed during a high-level meeting that the Yemeni government was – and still is – very keen on peace, and the full implementation of the UN-brokered peace agreement inked in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, last December.

“The government has made a lot of concessions to this end, despite the continued intransigence of the Houthi militias, their maneuvering to buy time at the expense of suffering Yemenis and the failure of the Swedish agreement,” he said.

Hadrami renewed the government’s condemnation of Houthis’ continued blackmailing of international organizations operating in Yemen and their militias looting of food aid and humanitarian relief.

He also appreciated the efforts and positions undertaken by the World Food Program (WFP) to put an end to such violations.