Academic reading practice test 29 Unlikely Boomtowns: The World’s Hottest Cities
Unlikely Boomtowns: The World’s Hottest Cities
Megacities like London, New York and Tokyo loom large in our imaginations. They are still associated with fortune, fame and the future. They can dominate national economies and politics. The last fifty years has been their era, as the number of cities with more than ten million people grew from two to twenty. But with all respect to the science-fiction novelists who have envisioned a future of urban giants, their day is over. The typical growth rate of the population within a megacity has slowed from more than eight per cent in the 1980s to less than half that over the last five years, and numbers are expected to be static in the next quarter century. Instead, the coming years will belong to a smaller, far humbler relation – the Second City.
A What would a building space look and feel like if it were designed to promote psychological and social well-being? How would it affect the senses, the emotions, and the mind? How would it affect behavioral patterns? For insights, it is useful to look not at buildings, but at zoos. Zoo design has gone through a radical transformation in the past several decades. Cages have been replaced by natural habitats and geographic clustering of animals. In some places, the animals are free-ranging and the visitors are enclosed in buses or trains moving through the habitat. Animals now exist in mixed species exhibits more like their natural landscapes. And, as in nature, the animals have much greater control over their behavior. They can be on view if they want, or out of sight. They forage, play, rest, mate and act like normal animals.
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Ditching that Saintly Image
Charities, it is still widely believed, are separate from government, staffed entirely by volunteers and spend every penny donated on the cause they support. Noble stuff, but in most cases entirely wrong. Yet these misapprehensions underpin much of the trust and goodwill behind giving. And there is concern that such outdated perceptions could blow up in charities’ faces as people begin to discover what the voluntary sector is really about. High-profile international programmes of awareness-raising activities, such as Make Poverty History, have dragged the voluntary sector into the spotlight and shown charity workers to be as much business entrepreneurs as they are angels of mercy. But with the spotlight comes scrutiny, and unless charities present compelling cases for political campaigning, six-figure salaries and paying the expenses of celebrities who go on demanding trips to refugee camps for nothing, they may get bitten. ‘If people become more sceptical about how charities use their donations, they will be less inclined to give money,’ says Nick Aldridge, director of strategy at the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO).