Urbanization is a significant factor that affects the environment in a negative way. Expansions of cities, towns, and villages often come at the cost of rivers being polluted, woods and trees chopped down, and animals being driven out of their natural habitats. The boom of urbanization came during the second half of the 20th century, when the world’s urban population almost doubled, from 29 to about 61% (Arizpe et al. 19). This was influenced by a multitude of sociological aspects, namely population growth, technological advances, and socio-economic factors.
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Population growth is the primary reason for expansive urbanization, as the number of people living on planet Earth has increased dramatically since the 1950s, growing from 2,556,000,053 individuals to 7,584,821,144, nearly triple the initial number (Arizpe et al. 77). This correlates with urban growth, as cities and towns are forced to expand beyond their historical margins at a very rapid pace. The environment is damaged because of it, as the encroachment of urban communities invariably means severe alterations and destruction of local ecosystems.
Technological advances are directly connected to population growth. They help improve the standards of living in many ways, ranging from medicine to domestic appliances (Arizpe et al. 35). In addition, new inventions reform the state of agriculture and force mass migrations to cities in search of employment. In addition, technology leads to growing factories, excavation operations, and transportation services, which are the primary sources of pollution.
Lastly, urbanization is tied to socio-economic factors, which directly relate to population growth and the environment. Throughout humanity’s history, cities and towns had the lowest standards of living due to cramped spaces and poor sanitation. Nowadays, cities are the primary locations for employment, leisure, and economic prosperity. These factors motivate mass migration in search of a better life, which is amplified by the globalization of the economy.
As a result, the growing urban population increases the toll on the environment in both direct and indirect ways. A city dweller consumes more goods and products on average when compared to a villager (Arizpe et al. 118). This is true for food, plastic, durable goods, energy, and other materials. Thus, the effects of urbanization and population growth on the environment are the destruction of local environments, increased consumption of resources, and increased pollution.
Arizpe, Lourdes, et al. Population and Environment: Rethinking the Debate. Routledge, 2019.