Sky-high food prices in the North have led many residents of Iqaluit to turn to Amazon Prime to save on necessities. But is that a sustainable solution?
Nunavut is remote…far more remote than most of our students can imagine. They live over 1,000 miles from any city with half a million people. The entire territory is enormous, but sparsely populated with only 36,000 people. Try to image getting commercial goods to such a remote location. The Canadian government has invested heavily to subsidize systems to get food products and other necessities to Nunavut. Still, the transportation costs are so high, and the numbers are so few that economies of scale can’t help this situation.
Enter Amazon Prime in 2005, and the online retail giant began offering free shipping for “Prime” customers for a flat yearly subscription fee (today $99 in the U.S.). This was simply too good to be true for many customers in far-flung settlements in Nunavut. Amazon, probably not anticipating the overwhelming transportation costs associated with a place like Nunavut, in 2015 stopped offering Prime membership for Nunavut customers that do not live in the capital city of Iqaluit. Still, the capital city looks to Amazon Prime more so than the Canadian or territorial government as their lifeline to the global economy. Some even argue that Amazon Prime has done more to improve the standard of living and providing food security for Nunavut residents than the government.
Hong Kong is the most expensive housing market in the world. It has been ranked as the least affordable housing market on Earth for eight years in a row, and the price per square foot seems to be only going up. The inflated prices are forcing Hongkongers to squeeze into unconventionally small spaces that can affect their quality of life.
Land scarcity is usually the main culprit behind extremely high real estate markets in the world’s most expensive housing markets. Silicon Valley, New York City, and other urban areas that are magnets for a young, well-educated workforce have very high costs of living. The rising property values and rents make living in a city on the rise difficult for many of the residents that aren’t a part of the economic rising tide (gentrification is just particular example).
Hong Kong is a very peculiar example were land scarcity is only a part of the situation. Bad land use (3.7% zoned for high density housing) policy and land management are bigger culprits. The government essentially owns all the land in Hong Kong and leases it to developers, so developers are incentivized to drive up that rates, given that the government doesn’t want to tax the corporations for the land that they occupy.
Season 2 of Vox borders has 5 episodes about Hong Kong:
- How British rule shaped Hong Kong
- China is erasing its border with Hong Kong
- Feng shui shaped Hong Kong’s skyline
- Decline of Hong Kong’s neon glow
- Hong Kong’s cage homes (profiled above)
A shortage of developable land have pushed Hong Kong’s housing prices skyward, leading some to live in spaces the size of closets.
Overpopulation doesn’t feel like a serious issue when you live in a land characterized by wide open spaces, but in some densely settled urban centers, the issues become quite personal. Hong Kong is currently facing a housing shortage. This article nicely explains the difficulties that living in the so-called coffin homes makes for the residents. This photo gallery humanizes this difficult living condition.
“Repurposed NASA maps show the racial diversity (and segregation) of the United States in more detail than ever before.”
This interactive map of population density in the United States also shows ethnic categories as defined by the U.S. census. Please explore this map at a variety of scales and in distinct locales.
Questions to Ponder: Is this a map of ethnic diversity patterns or is it a map of racial segregation? How come? Is there additional information that you would need to decide? This review of the map on Wired and Atlantic Cities described this map as a map depicting segregation: why would they say that?
“I was inspired by 50% of the U.S. lives in these counties. map. I was wondering what the equivalent map for Canada would look like. I couldn’t find one, so I created my own.”
During the U.S. presidential election much was made about the differences between rural and urban regions of the United States. Clearly the United States isn’t the only North American country that has a highly clustered population distribution.
Question to Ponder: How does this basic demographic reality impact Canadian politics, policies, infrastucture, culture, etc.?
“By extending each region into the 3rd dimension, it’s possible to show the relative importance of each region while retaining the map’s shape, keeping the areas recognizable. In this case, the height of each county corresponds to its total number of votes, though it could just as easily show population or share of the electoral vote. For a closer look, see the full screen interactive version.”
We’ve all probably seen enough maps of the 2016 presidential election and are familiar with the basic patterns (although my favorite is still the interactive that let’s you redraw the states to alter the election). This 3D map certainly though is an innovative way to portray some of the disparities in the U.S. electorate.
“The states are colored red or blue to indicate whether a majority of their voters voted for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, or the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, respectively. There is significantly more red on a traditional election maps than there is blue, but that is in some ways misleading: the election was much closer than you might think from the balance of colors, and in fact Clinton won slightly more votes than Trump overall. The explanation for this apparent paradox, as pointed out by many people, is that the map fails to take account of the population distribution. It fails to allow for the fact that the population of the red states is on average significantly lower than that of the blue ones.
We can correct for this by making use of a cartogram, a map in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population. That is, states are drawn with size proportional not to their acreage but to the number of their inhabitants, states with more people appearing larger than states with fewer, regardless of their actual area on the ground. On such a map, for example, the state of Rhode Island, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, would appear about twice the size of Wyoming, which has half a million, even though Wyoming has 60 times the acreage of Rhode Island.”
“Data viz extraordinaire Max Galka created this map using NASA’s gridded population data, which counts the global population within each nine-square-mile patch of Earth, instead of within each each district, state, or country border. Out of the 28 million total cells, the ones with a population over 8,000 are colored in yellow.”