All posts tagged: urban areas

I Watched This Island Wash Away in a Decade

I Watched This Island Wash Away in a Decade

This article was originally published by Hakai Magazine. Before the sea started taking house-size bites out of Nyangai, this small tropical island off the coast of Sierra Leone hummed with activity. I first visited in 2013 while documenting the construction of a school on a neighboring island. It was a cloudless day in April. A group of teenagers was busy setting up a sound system for a party. Old men chatted and smoked in the shade of palm trees. Children chased one another through the maze of sandy lanes while a constant traffic of roughly hewn wooden boats plied the surrounding waters. The silhouettes of coconut palms and June plum trees dominated the island’s profile, and beneath them stood clusters of neat mud-and-thatch homes. The beach that ringed the island was so white, it hurt the eyes, the water a limpid green. I couldn’t stay for long, but Nyangai left a deep impression. In December of the following year, I caught another glimpse of the island, this time while flying over it in a United …

Buying Satellite Imagery of Ukraine Is Dangerously Easy

Buying Satellite Imagery of Ukraine Is Dangerously Easy

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky got unusually testy over the failure of the United States to deliver anti-missile and anti-drone systems. On March 2, a strike in Odesa had killed 12 people, five of them children. “The world has enough missile-defense systems,” he said. Debates over funding have kept those systems from being delivered. “Delaying the supply of weapons to Ukraine, missile-defense systems to protect our people, leads, unfortunately, to such losses.” Others in Ukraine’s government, however, have expressed an even deeper frustration. What if Americans, in addition to not sending defensive assistance to Ukraine, are sending offensive assistance to Russia? A Ukrainian military source told me he believes that Russia’s long-range strikes, by cruise missiles that are among the most costly weapons in its nonnuclear arsenal, are aimed using satellite imagery provided by U.S. companies. He says the sequence is clear: A satellite snaps pictures of a site, then some days or weeks later a missile lands. Sometimes another satellite is sent to capture additional images afterward, perhaps to check the extent …

Buying Satellite Imagery of Ukraine Is Dangerously Easy

Buying Satellite Imagery of Ukraine Is Dangerously Easy

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky got unusually testy over the failure of the United States to deliver anti-missile and anti-drone systems. On March 2, a strike in Odesa had killed 12 people, five of them children. “The world has enough missile-defense systems,” he said. Debates over funding have kept those systems from being delivered. “Delaying the supply of weapons to Ukraine, missile-defense systems to protect our people, leads, unfortunately, to such losses.” Others in Ukraine’s government, however, have expressed an even deeper frustration. What if Americans, in addition to not sending defensive assistance to Ukraine, are sending offensive assistance to Russia? A Ukrainian military source told me he believes that Russia’s long-range strikes, by cruise missiles that are among the most costly weapons in its nonnuclear arsenal, are aimed using satellite imagery provided by U.S. companies. He says the sequence is clear: A satellite snaps pictures of a site, then some days or weeks later a missile lands. Sometimes another satellite is sent to capture additional images afterward, perhaps to check the extent …

Crows Are Taking Over American Cities

Crows Are Taking Over American Cities

Every night as dusk falls in Portland, Oregon, the sky fills with birds. While workers make their way from the city center toward their homes, crows leave the suburban lawns where they’ve spent the day picking for grubs to fly downtown. They swirl across the river in large groups, cawing as they go. A community science project recently recorded 22,370 crows spread out downtown—about twice as many as the number of people who lay their heads in that neighborhood. Across North America, crow populations have been declining for decades. But crows appear to be flocking to cities more than ever before. Cities from Sunnyvale, California, to Danville, Illinois, to Poughkeepsie, New York, host thousands of crows each winter. Some popular urban roosts host more than 100,000 crows each night. Crows are territorial during the spring and summer breeding season, but during the rest of the year, they sleep in large groups known as roosts. Sometimes a roost occupies a single tree; sometimes it’s spread over multiple perching sites—usually flat roofs or treetops—in a consistent area. …

How Uncovered Windows Became a Status Symbol

How Uncovered Windows Became a Status Symbol

Walk down the block of a wealthy neighborhood at night, and you might be surprised by how much you can see. One uncovered window might reveal the glow of a flatscreen TV across from a curved couch; through another, you might glimpse a marble kitchen island and a chandelier. Of course, some of the curtains are closed—but many are flung open, the home’s interiors exposed, like you’re peering into a showroom. Uncovered windows have quietly become a fixture of high-end homes across America. The New York Times recently referred to the “obligatory uncurtained windows” of Brooklyn Heights, a rich enclave in New York City, and The Root pointed out that this seemed common among wealthy young white people living in gentrified urban areas. On TikTok, onlookers have been baffled by the trend—and, sometimes, tempted to pry. Although this phenomenon is most visible in cities, the link between wealth and exposed windows extends across the United States. Most people do still close their shades, but Americans who earn more than $150,000 are almost twice as likely …

What America Could Look Like in 2050

What America Could Look Like in 2050

“I feel like it is a race, and I do not have the crystal ball to see the outcome,” one reader argues. Illustration by The Atlantic. Source: Emanuele Cremaschi / Getty October 12, 2023, 12:43 PM ET Welcome to Up for Debate. Each week, Conor Friedersdorf rounds up timely conversations and solicits reader responses to one thought-provoking question. Later, he publishes some thoughtful replies. Sign up for the newsletter here. Last week I asked readers, what will America be like in 2050? Replies have been edited for length and clarity. JP anticipates a decline in faith: America in 2050 will be a lot less religious, and will have fewer church structures. I am 31 and work at a church. Many churches, including ours, are still running on the “old church model” (my term) that has been established over the last 300+ years: building large structures, asking for donations or passing the basket, and driving engagement by appealing to people’s sense of duty or obligation. We know that a transition needs to take place, because in …