The Great Weight of Asia’s Megacities

In Shanghai, growth is ready, set, go. Photo credit: Marianna at flickr Creative Commons

A “megacity” is a metropolis of 10 million souls or more. Back in 1950, the world had exactly two:  Tokyo and New York. As of 2010, the world had 23 megacities, with 12 located in Asia. By 2025, according to the U.N., that number may rise to 37, with 21 of them in Asia. How are countries like China and India adjusting to such an epic migration?

According to a recent report from the Asian Development Bank, not so well. An eye-opening series of charts and figures make the case that the continent has barely begun to grapple with problems of waste, air pollution, and the prospect of floods that are more likely this century as the climate continues to change. I collected the most revealing data in a blog post on Forbes,  “Asia’s Megacities Pose A Stark Environmental Challenge.”

The picture is not entirely foreboding. The report looks to urbanization on other continents and finds that concentration in cities eventually leads to lower infant mortality, higher levels of education, a braking of population growth, and a greater desire to protect the environment. Some large cities have made significant strides to lessen their impact, which I detailed in another post, “From Asia, 5 Inspiring Ways To Green The City.”

I’m interested to know how these facts and figures jibe with the experiences of people who live and/or work in the megacities of Asia. If that describes you, please reply in the comments here or (even better) in the articles on Forbes.

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