“Exploding Cities”

“Humanity is on the move as never before, and most of those who leave home seeking a better life head for a city.”

SO SAID the publication Foreign Affairs in the introduction to an article entitled “The Exploding Cities of the Developing World.” According to that article, many people have been “lured by the bright lights, or driven from the countryside by political and economic turmoil, population pressures, and ecological breakdown.”

Just how fast are cities growing? Some estimate that people are flocking to cities at the staggering rate of more than a million a week! In developing lands more than 200 cities now have populations that pass the million mark. Some 20 have reached the ten million mark! And no slowdown is in sight. Take, for example, the city of Lagos, Nigeria. According to a report by Worldwatch Institute, “by 2015, Lagos may be home to nearly 25 million people, rising in rank from the world’s thirteenth largest city to the third largest.”

Many experts feel that this does not bode well for the future. Federico Mayor, former director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, warns that by the year 2035, “three thousand million more people will be living in the urban settlements that exist today.” To care for this staggering population, “we shall have to build a thousand cities of three million inhabitants in the next forty years, twenty-five a year.”

Experts also say that rapidly expanding city populations are having a devastating effect on cities around the world. And that includes cities in the prosperous industrialized world. Just what problems are cities facing, and what impact may this have on you? Are any solutions in sight? The following articles explore these critical issues.