Every day for the next 35 days, an average of 170,000 people will move to or be born in cities in the developing world, mostly in fast-growing countries in Asia and Africa. So it’s important to think about how best to expand cities when it comes to the health of their residents and the environment they’re being built upon.
Many cities are made up of dense urban cores surrounded by scattered residential, industrial and commercial zones that sprawl on and on, using more space, energy, and resources than people in taller, more tightly packed, urban environments. This is because people living in sprawling suburbs need to travel further to school and work, and so use more cars more often, and need more energy to power their larger living spaces, including big houses and backyards.
So suburb-ringed cities with low overall densities, such as in Canada, the US, and Australia, are much less efficient than those that are tightly packed, like in South Korea, Japan and Germany. “And unfortunately, cities around the world are expanding twice as fast in area as they are in population, using up more land, more energy, and more stuff per person,” says the latest episode of MinuteEarth.
Watch the video above to find out how we could reverse this trend and build more efficient living spaces for the world’s ever-growing population.