Urban Areas Poised for Growth Spurt?

By Shelton, Jim | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), September 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Urban Areas Poised for Growth Spurt?


Shelton, Jim, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


By Jim Shelton

Register Staff jshelton@nhregister.com/ Twitter: @JimboShelton

NEW HAVEN -- The world is on the cusp of a city-building boom that potentially will transform everything from public health and housing to climate change and biodiversity, a Yale University researcher says.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Yale's Karen Seto and other researchers predict that by 2030, urban areas around the world will expand by more than 463,000 square miles.

They say it's the equivalent of adding 20,000 football fields of urban space every day for the first 30 years of the 21st century.

"The main message here is that there is this major urban transition that's happening," said Seto, an associate professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and lead author of the study.

"People are moving into cities around the world. Those people are going to need housing, shopping, transportation systems. It will have an impact on everyone, including people in New Haven."

Seto said the forecast is based on five types of data: a global map of existing urban areas, population density data, United Nations population growth estimates, historical data on global gross domestic product and GDP estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Much of the expansion is predicted to occur in Asia. The study said that continent will account for almost half of the rise in "high-probability" urban expansion.

In North America, the study predicts urban land cover to nearly double -- by 96,000 square miles.

"I'm not talking about New York or Washington, D.C.," Seto says. "I'm talking about New Haven and Branford and Hamden. …

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