Urbanisation is an ongoing trend in almost every nation, no matter where a specific country lies on the development ladder. Every year, millions of people migrate away from their rural homes to seek a new life in the cities, while city planners continuously make efforts to urbanise suburban areas. Therefore, even though it is in the opinion of some that urbanisation negatively impacts the world, I believe that when urbanisation is managed well, it can bring environmental benefits, be a solution to the ever increasing world population, and increase people’s quality of life.
Urbanisation is very beneficial to the environment. According to an article published in the National Geographic Magazine, densely populated cities are more likely to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per capita than the wide-spread suburbs (Kunzig, 2011). Everything takes less resources to build and operate in cities, including the city apartments that require less energy to cool, heat, or illuminate due to the limited space.
The distances between people are also shorter in cities, making public transportation and walking more convenient and efficient. In contrast, rural areas with abundant space and far less population density waste more time and fuel in transportations, and the larger houses would naturally take more electricity to power as well. Therefore, urbanisation can alleviate our pressing environmental challenges and enable resource consumption to be more efficient.
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Not only is urbanisation the key to our environmental problems, it can also solve our struggle with the rising population. The article in National Geographic Magazine also asserted that “with the Earth’s population headed toward nine or ten billion, dense and carefully planned cities are looking more like a solution” (Kunzig, 2011).
Indeed, judging from the current trend, the rise in population will not stop. Very soon in the future, the world will run out of space for large suburban and rural areas; only compact cities where living spaces are more compressed will fit a larger amount of people. Hence, in order to ensure that this many individuals will have decent places to live in and still have enough space left in the world for production and agriculture, urbanisation is crucial.
It has been argued that people who live in cities have a low quality of life due to stress and safety issues. Steward Brand states, as mentioned by Kunzig (2011), that the rents in cities are overly high, plus there are large amounts of constructions, illegal employment and services going on in cities. Thus, some would allege that urbanisation does not have a positive impact on people’s lives. However, these issues mentioned above can be easily combated.
Kunzig (2011) also mentions the views of Stewart Brand that life in cities are more exciting, free, and safe, with better education systems and more opportunities to create wealth. This means that a city doesn’t only have more access to resources, it can also be made safe through management.
Rents in cities may seem very high in comparison to rural areas, but the fact that wages in cities are also much higher cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, if safety is really an issue to be discussed, a sprawling countryside with fewer people and less security systems would naturally make a much easier target for criminal activities to take place. Therefore, with proper governing, urbanisation still enhances the overall quality of life in terms of economic environment, education, and access to information.
In conclusion, urbanisation is an inevitable and irreversible trend that will further improve our society as it continues. However, measures should be implemented to ensure the safety of people in the urban environment and city planners should make continuous improvements on city management.
Granted, not everyone is going to love the urban life, but there is definitely no sufficient evidence to prove that urbanisation is a curse. Urbanisation should be encouraged due to its efficiency and quality. After all, we only have this many resources and space to accommodate our growing population while maintaining a high quality of life, thus urbanisation is actually our blessing.
- Kunzig, R. (2011). City Solutions. National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved from: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/12/city-solutions/kunzig-text/1
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