Growth of cities threatens global environment

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The explosive growth of cities worldwide over the next two decades poses significant risks to people and the global environment, according to a meta-analysis published in PlosOne.

Researchers from Yale, Arizona State, Texas A&M and Stanford predict that by 2030 urban areas will expand by 590,000 square miles — nearly the size of Mongolia — to accommodate the needs of 1.47 billion more people living in urban areas.

“It is likely that these cities are going to be developed in places that are the most biologically diverse,” says Karen Seto, the study’s lead author and associate professor in the urban environment at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). “They’re going to be growing and expanding into forests, biological hotspots, savannas, coastlines - sensitive and vulnerable places.”

Urban areas, they found, have been expanding more rapidly along coasts. “Of all the places for cities to grow, coasts are the most vulnerable. People and infrastructure are at risk to flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes and other environmental disasters,” says Seto.

Read the complete article on the F&ES website.

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