Growing up near the suburbs of Philadelphia, I understood what a city is – a giant, overly populated, unclean center for financial gain. I knew Philly wasn’t the largest city in the country, but I still considered it big, that is, until I discovered megacities.
According to National Geographic, a megacity is any city with a population greater than or equal to 10 million.
There are quite a few megacities in the world, the majority of which are in Asia.
According to Oxford, Tokyo-Yokohama, Jakarta, Shanghai and Manila are just a few of the 532 Asian megacities.
However, there is another Asian city currently under renovation, with hopes of increasing the population by more than 500 percent.
Business Insider states the Chinese government has opted to build upon Beijing, potentially making it the largest megacity in the world.
There are numerous positive elements that come from the establishment of a megacity. During construction, more people will be hired to perform various tasks, including painters, architects, doctors and lawyers (for the increase in possible work related accidents).
People involved in these industries will also see an increase in business. In addition, after the city is built, there will be a need for drivers, food workers, government officials, emergency services and much more in order to ensure prosperity. This increase in jobs will boost the economy.
Although these megacities are beneficial from an economical and business standpoint, they do create serious issues, one of which is overpopulation.
With a population extremely high in megacities, the problem lies in where everyone will live. Piling millions of people into 50 story buildings is not safe.
Not only do crowded, tall buildings pose a fire hazard, but they also create pollution problems.
Take Philadelphia, for example. As I used to drive down Broad Street, there was one thing that would drastically stand out to me – the litter.
Everywhere I looked – under the bridges, near the subway, on the road – there was trash. With only a population of roughly 1.5 million, Suburban Stats states that Philadelphia isn’t that large compared to megacities. Imagine what a city 10 times the size of Philly could produce in garbage.
In addition to lack of cleanliness, the potential for crime becomes higher in megacities.
In a World Economic Forum article by Antônio Sampaio, he stated, “…there is growing evidence that overcrowded and sprawling cities are more likely to be afflicted by protracted violence.”
He went on to say that within these megacities, laws concerning crime are not designed properly (because of the “case-by-case” approach that the government takes), which only leads to an increase in crime rates.
Crime is also augmented by poverty, which can be more prevalent in megacities.
According to the Borgen Project, Tokyo’s poverty rate is 15.7 percent, which is relatively high.
This statistic comes out to about one in seven Tokyoites, similar to the rate of hunger in American children (one in six, as told in Feeding America).
Unfortunately, as urbanization continues to grow, so will poverty.
A solution to decreasing poverty, crime and pollution is to stop creating megacities. In my opinion, there is no need for such a huge conglomeration of industries, housing, recreational facilities and businesses in one area.
There are plenty of small, quaint towns that provide more than adequate living conditions.
Why continue to build upon them if it’s only going to cause more damage?
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org