Life and death impact of global population growth
Author: secure urban travel backpack designer Sarah Giblin
Population growth will happen no matter what, but is there a way to make sure the cities that appear in the coming century are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable?
Our own sense of security will be super important in the cities of the future as you'll see in my next blog 9 billion people on earth: what does that mean for me? But first, before moving on to the impact of global population growth on us as individuals, I'm going to look at even bigger issues - ones that are a matter of life and death.
Macro impact on global population growth
The future will see major population growth no matter what. The question is: will billions of people live in successful of failing cities? According to the World Bank, the definition of successful cities are those that are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
This means, cities have to be able to house, provide sanitation and services to lower income populations and not just the mega rich. Even now, many of the world’s cities are housing its populations in slums.
Successful cities of the future should have the planning and infrastructure to house and provide support to the least well off too.
Cities of the future may have as many as 100 million people and vast assets which may be wiped out by one natural disaster if these new cities are not built equipped to handle the risks facing them. When I first saw this, I initially presumed it meant that we as individuals should feel safe in future cities. However, the definition of safety on the macro scale relates to safety from major natural and manmade disasters such as tsunami, earth quakes as well as having breathable air, access to fresh clean water.
A resilient city of the future is one that can bounce back from major disasters, such as the natural and manmade disasters mentioned above. In practice this means access to lending, funds and support internationally. If access to funds is not available, the best case the city’s wealthiest parts will regenerate but it’s likely that the poorest will suffer for the longest. In the worst case scenario, the city as a whole will fail, lose its remaining population and not recover.
People in cities consume more. Currently, cities are responsible for 2/3 of all energy consumption. Energy, in the form of electricity, mostly comes from oil, yet urban populations are growing and oil is a finite commodity which is being used up at every increasing rates. Therefore, cities of the future have to find other ways to keep the lights on and the wheels turning. This will become more challenging as the population increases and urbanises.
Building a world that works in the future is one of the planet's greatest challenges. It's sometimes difficult to imagine the scale on which we have to plan the future of the world's development and the consequences of getting it wrong.
As the global population grows and as cities pop up and expand, we need to plan to allow them to succeed in order to prevent unnecessary death on a large scale. The definition of success is: 1) building cities that work for the least well off as well as the super rich, with access to clean water and sanitation for everyone too. 2) In the face of a natural or manmade disaster, those cities must be able to evacuate or help its populations as well as getting the city up and running again. 3) This will depend on the sharing of skills, resources and access to credit quickly. Finally, in order to keep the lights on across the earth, 4) these huge cities with their vast populations must find new ways to power themselves. Those are some of the life and death issues relating to global population growth.
I'm Sarah Giblin. I design secure backpacks called RiutBag for urban city travellers. The development of cities, their growth and how we feel in them is fundamental to how I design for you. I left my job and funded the RiutBag on Kickstarter, often referred to as an anti-theft backpack, to enable travellers to use new products designed for urban life, built to reduce stress, minimise loss and theft and to lower our suspicion of others. As cities grow, new challenges arise. We can adapt our behaviours, mindset and products to still feel at home in the world's most incredible cities of the future.
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