More than half of the world’s expected nine billion people will live in giant urban expanses by 2030 as cities and their hinterlands occupy an additional 1.2 million square kilometers, thereby tripling in size.
That’s an additional 1.35 billion people living in cities, suggesting that urban areas that currently occupy roughly 3 percent of the planet’s surface will continue to expand. By comparison, urban areas increased by just 58,000 square kilometers between 1970 and 2000.
[Researchers] divided the global land area into discrete parcels and, using predicted gross domestic product growth, population growth and urban land area cover in 2000, they projected which parcels had a high or low probability of succumbing to citification over the next few decades.
Using that model, 1.2 million square kilometers of land have probabilities higher than 75 percent of becoming citified and nearly six million square kilometers have some probability of going urban.
“More than half of the urban land cover on the planet by 2030 has yet to be built,” Seto explains. “The expansion of urban areas will have a direct impact on biodiversity hot spots.”
Fifty-five percent of that expansion would come from massive urbanization in India and China… For example, a megalopolis similar to the urban corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., in the U.S. is likely to form between Hangzhou and Shenyang in China.
But the fastest urbanization is predicted to occur in newly developing regions in Africa, such as the coast of west Africa along the Gulf of Guinea and the shores of Lake Victoria farther south, encompassing Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, among other regions.