Urbanization frenzy continues across the planet

September 19, 2011HONG KONGIn the next 20 years, more than 590,000 square miles of land globally – more than twice the size of Texas – will be gobbled up by cities, a trend that shows no signs of stopping and one that could pose threats on several levels, says a Texas A and M University geographer who is part of a national team studying the problem. Burak Guneralp, a research assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A and M, says urban areas are growing faster than urban populations and by 2030, urbanized land worldwide will grow by 590,000 square miles – more than twice the size of Texas, or about the size of Mongolia. He is part of a team that includes three other researchers from Yale, Stanford and Arizona State and their work is published in the journal PloS ONE. “This massive urbanization of land is happening worldwide, but India, China and Africa have experienced the highest rates of urban land expansion,” Guneralp explains. “Our study covered the 30 years from 1970 to 2000, and we found that urban growth is occurring at the highest rates in developing countries. However, it is the North America that experienced the largest increase in total urban land.” The United Nations predicts that by 2030 there will be an additional 1.47 billion people living in urban areas. Guneralp says, urban population growth is a significant driver of urban land change, especially in developing regions such in India and Africa. However, economic growth is also important, particularly in China. He notes that coastal areas are especially vulnerable to urban expansion. “Where cities grow the most seem to be near coastal areas, and this is a very noticeable trend,” Guneralp says. “This makes coastal areas a special area of concern because people and infrastructures are at risk to rising sea levels, flooding, hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters. All over the world, people like to live by the water, so it’s a trend that will likely not change.” Guneralp adds that often urbanization occurs near lands that are environmentally sensitive and in some cases, protected by law. “This will challenge conservation strategies because future urban expansion is expected to be significant in total area extent and also as likely to occur near protected areas as in other regions,” he says.Seed Daily
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9 Responses to Urbanization frenzy continues across the planet

  1. nickk0 says:

    They should have published this article with a disclaimer: “If current trends continue”.<- ( They might not…..perhaps not by choice )

    – Nick


  2. Dennis E. says:

    Also, not mentioned in this posting is health services. With so many people in a small area, it is very easy for diseases to break out and inflict mass inflections/deaths , increase in rodents, sanitation issues and water/food consumption. it has been said that for every person in New York, there is at least one rat/mouse for each one. Give me some space,please!


  3. At the rate we’re going and the speed at which events are now unfolding; I wouldn’t count on it…


  4. Everyone is rushing to the city. Me, I want to get back to the country where I have room to breathe and can see the stars at night.

    Alvin, I agree with you. I seriously doubt we will last that long.



    • Yes, we should all be moving away from metropolitan areas. Lack of energy (they’re unsustainable and most have no mass transit systems), lack of gardening, high crime and they are disease vectors. Some of the most dangerous threats in this crisis will come from disease and the microbial scourge is yet to fall upon the human race.


  5. RainMan says:

    Beijing last year there was an article in the local paper stating the air quality was the same as smokng 70 cigg’s per day. You were lucky to see the Sun let alone the stars.
    Add man-made pollution to the list of scourge.


  6. Pagan says:

    Urban sprawl is both ugly & offensive – also deadly to the wildlife it encroaches upon. Who in their right mind would want to live like that? The architects of these grotesque blights upon Mother Earth are lauded & Man marvels at their “genius” in creating them. Sometimes I feel that Mankind has gone insane – with insatiable greed & subconciously knowing we do have a manifest destiny. How else to explain the ravages we have inflicted upon this planet? Alvin, you’re right – the sooner people leave these areas the better – they are after all just castles in the sand, 590,000 square miles of prospective human tombs ready to tumble the moment Gaia shrugs Her shoulders.



  7. nanoduck says:

    If you use Google Earth, and zoom in almost anywhere, you will see lots of grids, houses, and buildings covering almost the entire planet. Hardly any place is untouched or deforested. It is truly an epidemic.


  8. Travis says:

    This urbanization is very definatly planned as population controlling. Giant human chicken coops. With only a few ways into and out of many urban areas; it wouldn’t take much to completely imprison an entire city population, by shutting down all roads. Then in 3 days when the gas pumps are dry and the grocery store shelves are empty, the power elite can sit back on their gaurded sprauling country estates


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