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Byron Miller

While globalization processes have operated for centuries, the present era of globalization has given rise to extremes of income inequality and wealth, capital and information transfer, and resource consumption and consumerism with attendant environmental consequences. Behind contemporary globalization lurks the question: for whom? The distribution of the costs and benefits of globalization has been highly uneven, both amongst nation-states and within them. Moreover, globalization processes have been controlled and advanced in large measure by states and corporations of the global North and their proxy institutions of global governance – the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. The problematic nature of contemporary globalization has given rise to a variety of responses, including defenses of the status quo, left-wing anti-globalization movements, and right-wing anti-globalization movements laced with xenophobic populism. In contrast to responses that either embrace or reject globalization in its present form, alter-globalization movements (sometimes called ‘global justice movements’) do not seek to end globalization through a return to an imaginary golden era of national autarky. Rather, they seek global engagement and exchange on a basis that protects and advances values of social, economic, and environmental justice. Interestingly, the very idea of just forms of globalization requires the rethinking of norms of justice, which can no longer be tied to the Westphalian nation-state. Moreover, strategies for creating a more just world may take a variety of geographical forms, focusing on different geographical scales. Alternative projects of globalization recognize the relationship between the global (which is always ‘somewhere’) and the local, creatively experimenting with new forms of organization along the local-global continuum.

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Jason Richardson and Bruce Coffyn Mitchell

Cities are places where agglomeration effects and the intensification of economic exchange create a highly specialized and stratified social structure. Many urban areas in the United States seek to address the decline of their industrial sector via redevelopment and transformation. The extent to which legacy residents of communities in or near those former industrial zones are allowed and able to remain becomes an area of concern. In many cases these households are among the most vulnerable: people of color, the elderly, recent immigrants, or low-to-moderate-income (LMI) non-Hispanic whites. Residential segregation separates communities along racial, ethnic, and economic lines, presenting structural barriers to full participation in the opportunities and amenities that urbanization provides. In this new post-industrial dynamic, the question becomes what methods – data and techniques – can be used to identify zones of gentrification or disinvestment in order to guide policy and encourage reinvestment. This chapter examines techniques used to identify urban investment patterns under the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) and the Affordable Housing Goals (AHG), a dynamic set of goals enshrined by the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992. Using datasets of mortgage and small business lending, and bank branch location, investment levels and financial access for different communities are exposed. This activity bears similarities with critical cartography strategies and uses GIS to examine spatial patterns of inequitable capital access for disadvantaged communities. Two case studies are presented: Baltimore and Oakland. Baltimore provides an example of the isolation of communities from spillover effects, despite considerable reinvestment. Spillover effects from San Francisco have initiated gentrification in Oakland, a community at the edge of a developing world-city.

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

This chapter introduces the problem that this book addresses: how do societies come to be constructed in such a way that residents cannot drink the water that is supplied to them? The example of the supply of water to Shanghai is taken as a case through which to examine this question. Shanghai, it is argued, is an assemblage of interacting actors. This book examines the properties and characteristics of four principal actors: the hydro-geological conditions and rivers that provide water; the people, corporations and institutions within Shanghai who use and pollute the water; the institutions of central and other governments that regulate the use of the rivers and the discharges into them; and the infrastructures that governments and corporations have built to manage the river. The chapter concludes by outlining the organisation of the chapters through which the book addresses the question.

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

Shanghai is critically dependent on the Changjiang, China’s largest river, for its water supply. The flow is very stable from year to year but has strong seasonal variation with 70 per cent of flow in the summer season. The total flow is robust in the face of significant human influences. The annual flow is 900 billion cubic metres and only 0.55 per cent of this is taken for Shanghai’s water supply. No significant threats exist to the total volume of water available but there are threats from seasonal low flows, diversions of water to other users, deteriorating water quality and salt water intrusions that affect the main water supply intakes for Shanghai. The operation of the Three Gorges Dam has induced changes to the monthly flow regime, reducing flows in October to fill the dam before the low flow season and raising flows January to March as that water is used for power generation.

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Simon Dalby

Climate change is an increasingly urgent matter of global politics, a consequence of the huge success of the fossil-fueled global economy. The longstanding discussion of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock’s ideas of earth as a self-regulating life system, and the dangers that rising greenhouse gas concentrations present to this system, foreshadow contemporary earth system science discussions. The formulation of earth as now in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, has added forcefully to Lovelock’s contentions, and made it clear that globalization now needs to be understood as a driving force operating at such a scale that it is transforming the planet in ways that are very dangerous for the future of humanity. Current attempts to tackle climate change are only the beginning of what needs to be done to shape the Anthropocene in ways that will be benign to humanity’s future.

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Joe Williams

This chapter argues that the development of large-scale seawater desalination over the last two decades has been intimately linked to the privatisation, commercialisation and commodification of water services in general, and urban water in particular. It contends that a desalination “plant” should be more accurately understood as a desalination “factory”, which creates a manufactured product (potable water) in a pre-arranged quantity and with a pre-specified quality. The chapter provides a detailed analysis of the convoluted development of desalination as a decentralised and local water supply for San Diego, California. It focuses on two plants on the North American Pacific coast: the 189 ML/day Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County, which opened in 2015; and a larger facility currently under construction south of the US-Mexico border at Rosarito Beach, Baja California, which is heralded as the first ever “binational” seawater desalination project. My core contention here is that desalination is emerging as an important technology in political and ideological shift towards the neoliberalisation of municipal water supply.

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Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer

The past half-century has seen a fragmentation of urban theory, one that is also evidenced in city-spaces. Cities have been labeled post-modern, post-industrial, post-colonial, mega, global, sustainable, creative, neoliberal, gentrified, themed, among a multitude of theoretical framings. All of these framings are descriptive of key dynamics witnessed in some (but not all) cities, but none describe well all those dynamics in any city. This is a problem showcased by current debates in urban theory today, particularly the recent debate between Scott and Storper (2015) in their discussion of the nature of cities, contested by such researchers as Mould (2016) and Roy (2016b), which calls into question whether a shared theoretical understanding of the ‘city’ is even possible. Indeed, this kind of debate has only intensified as urbanization continues its hyper-acceleration on a planetary scale (Brenner, 2014). As of 2009, over half the world’s population lives in a city (UNDESA, 2014). This means that roughly twice as many people are (re)producing their lived spaces in cities than the entire global population in 1900. An estimated one in eight people live in a megacity, or in cities with a population greater than 10 million; nearly half live in cities with a population below 0.5 million (UNDESA, 2016). By 2050, it is anticipated that as many as two-thirds of all people will be living in cities – with modest gains in already urbanized North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe and exploding growth in Asia and Africa – ultimately resulting in as many city-people at mid-century as live on the Earth today (UNDESA, 2009). Not all cities are created equal. Cities are often ranked competitively, based on a variety of criteria: population size, areal size (land consumed), and economic value. There are currently 214 cities ranked as global cities, those deemed most important to facilitating the global economy (Friedmann, 1986; Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999; GaWC, 2016). These are further ranked as alpha (49), beta (81), and gamma (84) cities – further demarcating the disparities between the command-andcontrol centers of global capital (while erasing those cities that are not considered competitive enough to be ranked) (GaWC, 2016). The megacity, by contrast, ranks cities by absolute population size, with 47 cities meeting the megacity definition of a population of 10 million or greater, and roughly 600 more cities having a population of 1 million or greater (UNDESA, 2016). Interestingly, there is overlap between urban definitions, in that cities defined by one definition become more likely (or less likely) to also meet an alternative definition (shown by the 40 out of 47 megacities that are also ranked as global cities).

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Monica M. Brannon

‘Smart Cities’ initiatives have been lauded as offering new approaches and mechanisms to manage, plan, and enhance urban spaces and citizen experiences within them. Relying on new technologies, the ‘smart’ descriptor refers to utilizing new tools of efficiency as counter to traditional means of understanding and gathering information about cities and their residents. New technological development is often marketed as civic solutions, yet there is little discourse analyzing how digital and material projects relate to existing racial inequality and what data collection practices mean at the community level. This chapter seeks to fill a gap in literature in how technologies operate as social structures, in particular, how new technological infrastructures in urban spaces exacerbate, alter, or alleviate racial divides. The case under consideration here is Kansas City, Missouri, which represents an intersection between new technology and data-driven initiatives, and is also starkly racially segregated. This chapter examines the effects as parts of the city that are differently measured, and the variances between those that are within and those outside of new data collection practices, modes and definitions of surveillance, and smart initiatives. In short, it addresses technological inequality as it relates to geographical spaces. Specifically, it addresses the ideological intentions that shape the technological outcomes of space that result in a divided landscape. Therefore, taking as the foundation the inequality in the existing space, this research explains how technological ambitions affect it.

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Suraya Scheba and Andreas Scheba

Desalination is being adopted in South Africa as an emergency ‘quick fix’ to drought crisis. Despite public opposition over potential social and ecological negative effects, small- and large-scale desalination plants are growing in numbers across the country. In this chapter we use a relational Marxist ontology and draw on the case of desalination adoption in the Knysna Local Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa, to argue that proponents’ representation of the drought as nature-induced, urgent and devoid of history created the political space for desalination technology to emerge as the best solution. Powerful actors used a range of communication and legal tools to discursively produce the drought–desalination assemblage, which resulted in the material manifestation of the technology. We then trace the historical materiality of the drought–desalination assemblage to counter the dominant narrative, providing instead an alternative explanation of how human and non-human actors produced the crisis materially.