The population growth rates in urban areas are on the rise, and as more people move to cities, there are many problems that can occur. We will discuss several issues associated with this growth and also a potential method for minimizing the effects.
Think back on the last trip you took to a big city. How would you describe the city in terms of the size of the human population? Many of us would describe a big city as crowded with a very densely packed population.
Cities were not always so crowded. It wasn't until around 300 years ago that the population size began to rise due to urbanization, which is the shift from rural to urban living and the increased concentration of the human population in densely populated cities.
In fact, in the mid-1800s, only around 2% of the entire human population lived in cities. By the 1950s, the percentage of the human population living in urban areas was up to around 29%, and by 2009, that number had reached 50%. This number is expected to increase rapidly, and by 2050, it is predicted that over 70% of the human population will live in urban areas.
Problems wth Urbanization
Although we often think of a city as a busy and productive place, many problems have arisen in cities due to the rapid population growth rates. One major problem is the lack of adequate housing. As more people move to cities, the amount of housing available decreases. The increased demand for housing can often lead to inflated real estate costs. As a result, many people end up living in cheaper neighborhoods and rundown areas or becoming homeless.
In many cities, the lack of adequate housing has led to the creation of slums and shantytowns. The term slums is often used to describe areas with multifamily tenements that are inadequate in size and function. Shantytowns are illegal settlements in cities that are created when people move onto unoccupied land and build their own houses or shacks.
The most extreme result of the lack of adequate housing is people becoming homeless. In 2011, it was estimated that nearly 100 million people worldwide were homeless. In addition to a lack of adequate housing, insufficient sewage systems are also another major problem faced by growing cities. Many cities built their sewage systems to handle a certain population size, and as the population increases, the systems are overloaded and cannot properly function.
For example, the city of Cairo, Egypt, built its sewage system over 50 years ago to handle waste from around 2 million people. In 2011, the population of Cairo was over 10 million people, and the system had been overwhelmed.
The major problem associated with insufficient sewage systems is that it often leads to water pollution. When water sources are polluted with human waste, it can lead to outbreaks of diseases, such as dysentery, typhoid and cholera. It can also cause economic problems for people because if the water is contaminated, people may be forced to purchase bottled water. Another major problem occurring in growing cities is the increased abundance of cars. When you visit any city, you see many cars lining the streets. As more people move to cities, they bring more cars with them.
One problem with the increased abundance of cars is that it increases traffic congestion. The city of Bangkok, Thailand, has extreme traffic congestion, and it is estimated that each year the average resident spends the equivalent of 44 days sitting in traffic. Not only does the person have to waste time in traffic, they also use up around 20% of their fuel while sitting. This burning of fuel leads to increased air pollution and can cause respiratory diseases.
Now that we know some problems associated with the rapid growth of the population in cities, what do you think are some ways to handle these issues? One way that these issues are being addressed is through compact development, which is a development method that focuses on building in a more compact way that promotes a more livable urban community. Although we often think of compact as crowded and maybe in a negative way, this development method implements the positives of things being closer together.
Compact development focuses on using preexisting structures and preserving open space. By renovating preexisting structures, housing can become more affordable. Compact development also incorporates more public transportation options, which can limit the reliance on cars and decrease air pollution.
Another benefit of compact development that makes the city more livable is the fact that more communities are walkable. This is good for the health of the residents and the environment. This can also create a stronger sense of community because people are able to have easier access to the local resources around them.
Now, let's review population growth in urban areas, problems that can arise and possible solutions. The high population growth rate in cities is attributed to urbanization, which is the shift from rural to urban living and the increased concentration of the human population in densely populated cities.
The first major problem with the growth of cities is the lack of adequate housing. This can lead to the establishment of slums, which are areas with multifamily tenements that are inadequate in size and function, and shantytowns, which are illegal settlements in cities that are created when people move onto unoccupied land and build their own houses or shacks. Lack of adequate housing has also contributed to the high rates of homelessness, with 100 million people homeless in 2011.
The second major problem is the insufficient sewage systems, which can lead to water pollution and diseases. The final major problem is the increased abundance of cars, which can lead to traffic congestion, wasted fuel and increased air pollution.
One potential solution to the problems associated with city growth is compact development, which is a development method that focuses on building in a more compact way that promotes a more livable urban community. Compact development will help make cities more livable by reducing housing costs, increasing public transportation and making cities more walkable. People are always going to want to live in cities, and development and planning needs to be done in a way that helps preserve cities, the health of the residents and the environment in general.
After this lesson, you should have the ability to:
- Define urbanization, slums and shantytowns
- Describe three major problems associated with the growth of cities
- Explain how compact development could help remedy the problems associated with city growth