Five things to know about megacities Aaditi Joshi's piece, Untitled, asks viewers to think about the effect waste has on cities. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Florian Löbermann/Westend61/Corbis)
Five things to know about megacities
Lexile

Mumbai. Shanghai. Tokyo. Beijing. According to the United Nations, megacities housed approximately 12 percent of urban dwellers. This was as of 2014. Megacities are urban areas with a population of 10 million or more. Here are five things to know about what is likely the wave of the urban future.
 
There could be 41 megacities by 2030.
 
In 2014, the United Nations released a report. It was on the world's urbanization prospects. It showed staggering growth in terms of megacities. There were just 10 megacities in 1990. By 2014, that number had spiked to 28. But as urban populations continue to swell, the UN projects that humans will consolidate into a whopping 41 megacity regions. It should happen by 2030. Look for burgeoning megacities in the developing world, writes the UN. An additional 2.5 billion people are projected to be added to the world's urban population by 2050.

Megacities can wreak havoc on the environment...
 
With all those people living in urban areas, it's perhaps not surprising that megacities have an environmental impact. But the sheer scale of that impact is sobering. In a 2015 report on megacities' environmental impact, researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany rounded up existing research on the footprint of megacities. Their review found that megacities' most intense impact will be on the atmosphere. The world's largest cities emit huge amounts of both greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollutants, and they're expected to emit even more as time goes on. In 2005, megacities emitted 12 percent of all of the carbon dioxide on Earth, and that number is expected to grow by an order of magnitude as the century progresses.
 
...but they could one day be a force for environmental good.
 
The environmental outlook for big cities isn't all bad, though. The German Advisory Council on Global Change just released a report that suggests that cities facing a huge influx of residents could transform into a source of environmental transformation. The report suggests that huge cities lessen the environmental blow of urbanization by distributing urban resources across surrounding regions. But it also points to the use of renewable energy and adaptation to climate change as areas in which megacities could lead environmental healing.
 
One day, megacities could be more important than countries.
 
Could the country one day be passÇ? Perhaps, writes Parag Khanna for Quartz. Khanna, whose book "Connectography" explores how the planet is connected, argues that megacities will soon be more important than the arbitrary national borders that once divided countries. As infrastructure continues to integrate urban areas, writes Khanna, megacities will attract even more wealth and population, perhaps one day recreating the world map.
 
They even have their own art exhibition.
 
Convinced yet that megacities are a mega player? Megacities Asia is a new art exhibit. It is at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. It features diverse art from 11 renowned artists from different Asian cities like Seoul and Delhi. From a backpack-constructed snake that pays tribute to over 5,000 schoolchildren who died in a Chinese earthquake to a delicious sculpture made entirely of discarded plastic bags from Mumbai, the exhibit is as expansive and vibrant as megacities themselves. It runs until July 17. That provides plenty of time for you to get a glimpse of some of the world's biggest cities without grabbing your passport.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is the number of megacities increasing?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (22)
  • shaelyng-ver
    5/13/2016 - 08:49 a.m.

    All these facts have brought me to the reality of how fast the human population can grow!

  • alexm-ver
    5/13/2016 - 10:58 a.m.

    I hope to live in a mega city one day.

  • cameronv-ver
    5/13/2016 - 01:53 p.m.

    Because urban populations are continuing to swell. And they will need housing for them.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    5/16/2016 - 08:58 p.m.

    The number of megacities is increasing because the population is rapidly increasing and we need more of these megacities to house the over 7 billion population. The article says, "According to the United Nations, megacities housed approximately 12 percent of urban dwellers." This shows that 840,000,000 people live in cities, and that is a large amount of the population. I was interested in this article because I used to live in a city and I would like to live there when I'm older. I wasn't surprised about this article because I know that the population is large and we need more cities to house everyone.

  • theaw-4-bar
    5/16/2016 - 09:02 p.m.

    The number of mega cities are increasing because earth's population is increasing. By 2030 there will be an estimated 41 mega cities. A mega city is a city with over 10 million inhabitants. " An additional 2.5 billion people are projected to be added to the world's urban population by 2050." This is why there will be a need for more mega cities.

  • mayaw-6-bar
    5/16/2016 - 11:00 p.m.

    The number of mega-cities is increasing because the human population keeps increasing. In paragraph 2, the article states that. "An additional 2.5 billion people are projected to be added to the world's urban population by 2050." With the global human population increasing so rapidly, then this means that there has to be places to put all of these people, meaning that more major cities will be created. Therefore, the number of mega-cities is increasing because the human population keeps increasing. I did not enjoy this article because I thought it could have been stated less repeatedly.

  • collinf-2-bar
    5/17/2016 - 11:45 p.m.

    The number of megacities is increasing because the world's population is increasing. It is projected that "2.5 billion people [will] be added to the world's urban population by 2050."

    I found this article interesting because I didn't realize how fast the world's population is growing.

  • lucasddd-3-bar
    5/18/2016 - 03:03 p.m.

    The number of mega cities are increasing because this article said it was. Also, the population is increasing rapidly. One paragraph states "as urban populations continue to swell, the UN projects that humans will consolidate into a whopping 41 megacity regions." This means megacities will have to house more people because of the population.

    This article was interesting, and it would be cool to live in a mega city.

  • tiffanyf-1-bar
    5/18/2016 - 04:42 p.m.

    The number of megacities are increasing because as the population increases, more people will begin settling into large cities. We will need more megacities to compact many people into smaller spaces. The article states,"...as urban populations continue to swell, the UN projects that humans will consolidate into a whopping 41 megacity regions. It should happen by 2030. Look for burgeoning megacities in the developing world, writes the UN. An additional 2.5 billion people are projected to be added to the world's urban population by 2050." This article was interesting because I have always wanted to live in a large city.

  • audreyv-4-bar
    5/19/2016 - 06:52 p.m.

    The number of megacities are increasing, because a Earth's population is rapidly increasing. "An additional 2.5 billion people are projected to be added to the world's urban population by 2050."(paragraph 2) By having more people in smaller areas, we can fit more people on our Earth. I found this article very interesting, because it shows how people are adapting to the changes in our world.

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