Friday, July 13, 2007

EXCERPT: Williams Prof. Steve Sheppard's research cited at Italian global population confab

This column by Neal Pierce, of the Washington Post Writer's group, quotes research by Prof. Stephen Sheppard of Williams College. You should be able to find the whole column on the web by appropriately searching.

For Release Sunday, July 15, 2007
© 2007 Washington Post Writers Group


By Neal Peirce

BELLAGIO, Italy -- Will Planet Earth be able to handle the mega-surge of people pouring into the cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America?

-- SNIP ---

And humans have the power to effect huge change on our future numbers, Joel Cohen, head of the Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University, told a Global Urban Summit, assembled by the Rockefeller Foundation here last week.

-- SNIP ---

Breakthrough research on that very point, by Stephen Sheppard and his Williams College colleagues, was presented at the Bellagio conference. Using Landsat satellite images of a sampling of 120 world cities -- one set taken around 1990, another around 2000 -- they were able to show global cities' dynamic form of growth -- how much they move to the urban periphery ("outspill"), or find space inside ("infill".)

On top of that, the Landsat readings permitted intensity light readings indicating types of land use, pixel by pixel, down to very small areas. Then the Williams team, operating with a remarkably small $775,000 budget from the World Bank and the National Science Foundation, matched its images with census-type information from each city to estimate actual population and per capita income.

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