In the recently popular Disney movie, Frozen, the grandfather troll makes a speech to the young princess Elsa who has ice powers: “Listen to me, Elsa, your power will only grow. There is beauty in it . . . but also great danger. You must learn to control it. Fear will be your enemy.”
Much like Elsa, the way in which society is organized gives power to certain areas. Cities have both their good and bad points. The positive aspects of cities include being the epicenter of the arts, breathtaking architecture, greater variety of education and more job opportunities.
However, they can also house great danger.
The Dangers of High Population Density
In thickly populated areas such as Manhattan, there simply isn’t room left to accommodate the massive influx of people. Traffic is terrible, even small apartments are incredibly expensive and space in general is very hard to come by. Sanitation and hygiene are difficult to maintain in such tight living conditions which, in turn, contribute to disease. Pollution is another negative byproduct of large cities, contributing to 80 percent of global CO2 according to a TED Talk by Kent Larson.
Lack of Innovation In City Layouts
These issues have been an ever-increasing problem since the industrial revolution in the 1800’s when people began migrating to cities. However, after all this time, the basic layout of cities has not changed, almost as if they have been frozen. Larson quoted an estimate that in China alone, 300-400 million people will move to cities in the next 15 years. That means these issues will only continue to increase exponentially in the next few decades.
In the next installment of this series, I will detail radical new designs that could solve many cities’ problems.