Chapter 5: Urbanization and future mobility
For the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, a remarkable rise in urbanization, relative to just 33 per cent in 1960 and 39 per cent in 1980 (World Bank, 2010). The city as the centre and ‘milieu’ of innovation is described, historically, as developing from the Athenian Marketplace of Plato and Socrates, to the Renaissance of Florence, the Industrial Revolution of Manchester and Birmingham, the Production of Mobility in Detroit, the Freeway of Los Angeles, to the Silicon Age of San Francisco and Bangalore, the Social Democracy of Stockholm and the Financial Capitalism of London and New York (Hall, 1988, 1998; Glaeser, 2011). In contemporary terms, there are now ten metacities (with over 20 million residents), including Seoul, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai and São Paulo, with over 36 million residents in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. The megacity (over ten million residents) is home to 10 per cent of the world’s population. Table 5.1 illustrates how the rate of urbanization varies globally, with Asia in particular at lower levels than the West, and population densities being very low in North and Latin America. In environmental terms, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy use per capita (aggregate) are very high in North America and Europe. The ultimate ‘triumph of the city’ is in enabling collaboration and the flow of ideas, at times offering the potential for humanity to ‘shine most brightly’ (Glaeser, 2011).
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