Urbanization is no longer an unknown term. Everything around us is getting urbanized. As per the statistics of Economics and social affairs, half of the world’s population resides in cities and it is estimated that by 2050, 75% of the world’s population will live in cities. Living in cities has its advantages but two serious problems are faced due to urbanization – poverty, and degradation of the environment. Let us look at urbanization and a few of its effects.
As the number of cities grows in their area and density there is an increase in ecological footprints. When urban expansion includes forests, wetlands or agricultural lands there is a clearing of a habitat. The land is now degraded and fragmented of its landscape. The urban lifestyle is also consuming more amount of natural resources and generating more waste. This is what has caused pollution of air, water, and soil. Unsustainable urbanization will have a dangerous impact on the world’s ecosystems.
97 % of the earth’s water is found as oceans. Only a small amount of fresh water is usable. When rain falls on the land, it takes many routes. Some of the water gets evaporated, some seeps underground and the rest becomes surface water that travels to the oceans or lakes as rivers and streams. The urban development either through building constructions or land clearance disrupts the natural amount of water that is needed for different paths. The construction of buildings and eruption of trees has decreased the percolation of water volume. These changes reduce the quality of water that can be used by everyone.
Another harmful effect of urbanization is reduced physical activity and poor nutrition. The WHO predicts that by 2020, the death toll will increase to 69% for non-communicable diseases like heart attacks and diabetes. People also tend to become more obese and have breathing problems such as Asthma and other lung diseases.
Many people view rural areas as a place of hardship and poor lifestyles and thus move to cities and towns. This leads to the development of land for commercial purposes. The cities will generally have social and economy supporting institutions, better transportation facilities and residential places. These developments eventually cause several issues such as poor quality of air and garbage disposal, and environmental degradation. Thus the need of the hour is a solid city planning that will be useful to manage the problems as urbanization is happening at a higher pace.