Urbanization and rapid global population growth are two trends that are set to dramatically alter society and the planet we live on. Most projections indicate a rise in the world’s population from about 6.8 billion people today to 9 billion or more by 2050. At the same time more and more of these billions – primarily in developing countries – are moving to cities in droves in search of jobs. A recent article at the BBC notes the substantially negative impacts the combination of these two trends could have on the climate.
With rapid population growth largely inevitable how that growth takes place becomes the dominant factor. The BBC article also notes the well-known fact that urban households generally produce less greenhouse gas emissions per capita than rural or suburban households. The adoption of smart growth policies in countries with rapidly growing (and increasingly wealthy) populations before most of this growth takes place can help mitigate its impacts.
An additional interesting point raised by the article is the simultaneous rapid aging of much of the population in developed countries (and notably in China as well) and the large emissions reductions that can be expected to accompany the aging of these countries’ populations.