In 2018, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs published an updated report on World Urbanization Prospects, highlighting that by 2030, the world is projected to have 43 megacities (cities with more than 10 million inhabitants); and that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population is projected to be urban. Even if the rate of population increase in cities slows in the midst and aftermath of COVID-19, the future will still pack a lot of people, buildings, and infrastructure into spaces not originally designed for so many or so much. National Geographic outlined potential effects of this rise in urbanization, including air pollution from vehicle exhaust; environmental hazards like flash floods and excess uncollected waste; loss of tree cover caused by physical barriers to root growth; and a decrease in animal populations.
If you currently live in a city, you may have already begun to take steps such as these to offset the potential negative impacts of urbanization:
- Fewer and cleaner forms of transportation: Hybrid and electric vehicles such as those produced by Tesla; bicycles and scooters; the continued proliferation of carpooling services; and an increase in the number of full-time at-home workers will help minimize air pollution.
- Reuse, reduce, recycle: compost and recycling program capabilities will continue to expand in breadth and depth, while companies like Rareform (who recycle vinyl from billboards turn it into durable bags) will find new ways to reuse resources.
- Small trees for small spaces: the incredible trend of making houseplants a focus of small urban dwellings will be taken a step further with bonsai providing inspiration inside your kitchen or bedroom (use the right species!), or on your balconies or terraces.
- Apartment animals: pets like cats, small breed dogs (pugs, terriers), birds, reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes), fish (fresh or saltwater), and rodents (hamsters, gerbils, mice) will bring companionship and joy to city dwellers.