Friday, December 6, 2013

How Quickly are Cities Growing and What are the Environmental Consequences?

Choking on their own growth(24 page pdf, Lars Martin Hjorthol, pages 17-20, Gemini, NTNU, spring 2013)

Today, we review an article in « Gemini », the magazine of NTNU, the technical university located in Trondheim, which has formed a multidisciplinary group of researchers looking at “urban ecology”. The article looks at the population growth of cities, especially in Africa and Asia, over the last 50 years, how urban development has proceeded and what needs to be done in the future. A major observation is that traditional Western development policy with its accent on sprawling suburbs, has unfortunately took hold in some cities. Urban development must be adapted bottom-up to the particular needs of the inhabitants who see secure property ownership as most important along with health safety and transportation. urban growth  

Key Quotes :

"Almost the entire global population increase over the next decades will take place in the cities of the south. The population in cities has increased fivefold since 1950, increasing by 60 million a year, according to UN figures…By 2050, there will likely be well over nine billion people on Earth, 70–75 per cent of whom will live in cities …In 1950, all of Africa’s cities combined had a population of 33 million. But that number may grow to as much as 1.3 billion by 2050,”

“Everything seemed chaotic. And I thought like a traditional urban planner, with ready made solutions to what I perceived as the main problems. But what we first thought was most important to people in the area, proved to be far down on their priority list. Their top priority is more secure property ownership and tenancy,”

“Instead of asking what does not work, we start with what they have, and build on local resources. We have to build on their strengths, not their weaknesses,”

 “The greater the degree of urbanization, the stronger the economy. Europe and the US have an urbanization rate of nearly 90 per cent. China passed the tipping point of having 50 per cent of its population as city dwellers in January 2012 and will probably exceed 70 per cent by 2050.”

“Internal inequality is a major cause of many problems in rapidly growing cities, when it comes to health, safety, transportation and other infrastructure,”

“But the Chinese are still stuck in a traditional Western planning paradigm, with suburbs and car-based land use. This approach is already about to collapse in several places. We see almost no bicycles in Beijing anymore. Instead, cars are stuck in endless queues, and move much more slowly than bikes used to do,”

Major cities in developing countries often have higher emissions of greenhouse gases per person than in rural areas (while the opposite is often true in developed countries).”

“Urbanization has not been covered in this way in previous IPCC reports. Now there’s a chapter on urbanization in both the sub-report on emissions reductions and in the chapter on adaptation,”
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