CLEVELAND - The world’s seven billionth person will be born Monday, so said projections from the United Nations Population Fund. What's more, in just 12 years the world grew by a billion people – in 1999, the population soared past the six billion mark.
While some statisticians dispute when this precise milestone will be marked, the staggering number of people poses both immense challenges related to infrastructure, urban planning and the environment. Already more than 300 cities around the world have more than one million residents.
While most of the growth will be in Africa's cities, it bodes the question if the world is ready to handle that many people.
As Scientific American noted in a recent article about the impending milestone:
"Cities are likely to feel the brunt of the growth as humans continue their migration from rural areas to urban. [Columbia populations Professor Joel] Cohen says the small city (of about 1 million) is the future of urban life, and he feels civilization needs to do better at paying attention to their design."
“We are going to need to construct a city of a million people every five days for the next 40 years,” said Cohen.
And while that could spell heightened demand for downtown properties, new jobs and a bustling city life, the surge also requires that city planners be ready. From expanding and updating roads, pedestrian paths, and bridges to staggering workdays to manage traffic gridlock, larger cities mean urban decisions have bigger implications.
And while that may sound like music to Ohioans and Greater Clevelanders, who from 2004 through 2009 lost 175,606 residents statewide through migration based on records from the Internal Revenue Service , the preparation would mean extra headaches in terms of construction and increased taxes, just to name a few.
And whether or not you support a bigger Cleveland, with life expectancies and health care advancements on the rise, it's a reality we all must consider.
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