This picture comes to us from America 2050 via the twitter feed of Tim Maly. You can click on it for a bigger image and you should probably give Tim a follow.
America 2050 explains:
As metropolitan regions continued to expand throughout the second half of the 20th century their boundaries began to blur, creating a new scale of geography now known as the megaregion. Interlocking economic systems, shared natural resources and ecosystems, and common transportation systems link these population centers together. As continued population growth and low density settlement patterns place increasing pressure on these systems, there is greater impetus to coordinate policy at this expanded scale.
Most of the nation’s rapid population growth, and an even larger share of its economic expansion, is expected to occur in 10 or more emerging megaregions: large networks of metropolitan regions, each megaregion covering thousands of square miles and located in every part of the country.The emerging megaregions of the United States are defined by layers of relationships that together define a common interest; this common interest, in turn, forms the basis for policy decisions. The five major categories of relationships that define megaregions are:
• Environmental systems and topography
• Infrastructure systems
• Economic linkages
• Settlement patterns and land use
• Shared culture and history
While every megaregion may not share every one of these characteristics, the possession of several indicates a stronger and more cohesive megaregion. For instance, the Northeast Megalopolis, identified as early as 1961 by geographer Jean Gottman, is defined by relationships in each of these categories and, accordingly, is one of the strongest and most easily recognizable megaregions.
As for me, I view this, and its ilk, as being real maps. That is, maps not based on the somewhat arbitrary and, more or less, obsolete lines drawn around nation states. These maps allow for a different and more accurate view of the world than the usual drawings of where some antique war finally sputtered out. They show actual and emergent problems as opposed to politically manufactured ones. Valuable stuff.
(It kind of reminds me of the results based stats in baseball, that show you what happened, as opposed to the predictive stats, which show you what will probably happen and a player’s worth independent of variables outside of his control. Maps like this are just better knowledge.)
A couple of things that jump out at me from that map:
The little island regions stranded between the megaregions and included in one or the other. One can imagine these places shifting allegiances, eventually being absorbed or growing into their own megaregions with ensuing conflicts. Perhaps even networking out like the non-aligned states of the cold war and forming a sort of united third world in these grey areas.
I’ve also got to think that the naming rights of these regions will become an issue. I can too easily imagine living not in the Great Lakes but in the Rogers District of “Great Lakes, Great Taste, Coca Cola.”
As these regions become stronger and more self aware, the major source of conflict will probably not be between each other but between them and the previous nation states. I’d expect to see countries become increasingly jingoistic as they seek to protect their brand and maybe engage in more adventures of warfare and engineering to promote some sort of unity.
At at total guess, the most likely outcome of this is the nation remaining as some sort of parasitic figurehead much like the Queen in Canada. This, of course, will vary from region to region, as different places reach different settlements with their nation-state forebears.
All of this map will, of course, be overlaid with another one of information, which I suspect to be basically flat in terms of computer relayed info and communication, but to generate striking mutations in terms of DNA.
Crops and whathave you will be engineered to suit local weather conditions and one can quite easily imagine augmented humans from different megaregions looking physically different as they choose the upgrades best suited for their environment. (Just as people in the north wear toques.)
Anyway, just a couple thoughts on an interesting map.