The Chinese Super City

Population is going to be a hot topic over the next 50 years. It is scary to think about how quickly countries are growing around the world. There are currently over 7 billion people on this planet. When I was born in 1979, the population was just under 4.4 billion. That's a growth of 60% in just 33 years.

Whatever way you look at it, that figure is crazy. Unfortunately, this trend is not going to stop in our lifetime. Most projections estimate that the earth will have 9.2 billion people by 2050.

The agricultural and industrial revolutions sure have a lot to answer for. Earth's population was only half a billion before advancements in technology. Population was growing steadily, however around 1750 humans got together for the world's biggest gang bang and population rates exploded (well, that's how I imagined it happened). One of the graphs on Wikipedia illustrates this perfectly.

Historic Population Curve

I have mentioned before that China is a country that I still have not visited. As someone who grew up watching Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films religiously, Hong Kong is at the top of my list. It looks like one of the coolest cities on the planet. There are so many reasons for me to go: the skyscrapers, the culture, the food, Hong Kong cinema, martial arts…not to mention it is a tech heaven for geeks like me.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong currently has a population of around 7 million people. Due to it being 1,101 square kilometres in size (425 square miles), the population density is very high. In fact, the state is the fourth highest density in the world after Macau, Monaco, and Singapore.

Rising populations require modern resolutions. In many cities, such as New York and Hong Kong, the only way is up. New York has an incredible 794 buildings above 100 metres. It is only topped by Hong Kong, which has a whopping 2,354 buildings above 100 metres.

That part of the world is only going to get busier. I recently came across an article from 2011 which spoke of China's plans to create the largest mega city in the world just outside of Hong Kong.

Their plan is to merge 9 cities into one mega city. In total, the mega city will have 42 million people living in an area that is twice the size of Wales. When you add on Hong Kong's population as well, there will be 50 million people living in that one area. That's only 3 million less people that the current population of England.

Chinese Super City

When you normally read about the population of cities spiralling out of control, it is usually something that the government have little control over (e.g. Lagos, Nigeria etc.). This is different. This has been planned for a long time.

Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion). An express rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong.

China is planning on moving more people into cities. They noted:

By the end of the decade (2020), China plans to move ever greater numbers into its cities, creating some city zones with 50 million to 100 million people and “small” city clusters of 10 million to 25 million.

I currently live in Bogota, Colombia; a city which has a population of 8 million people. The major problem with Bogota is transport. There is no subway or train to get around. Instead, there is a bus which has its own private roads (called the TransMilenio). It is affordable but it is too crowded. In rush hour people are packed onto the buses like chickens. I despise it.

I have also stayed in Tokyo. Tokyo city has around 13 million people living there, however if you include the surrounding area, the population exceeds 35 million. So I imagine the Chinese mega city will operate in much the same way. I only stayed in Tokyo for around 8 or 9 days, so I cannot say what problems the city has. However, when I was there, it did seem like everything operated smoothly. It was easy to get around and trains were always on time.

I do not think that population is going to be a major concern for me during my lifetime, however I imagine any children I have in the future will grow up in a very different world from me. Which is both exciting and worrying. We are going to see countries dealing with population growth in a lot of different ways. We will also see more people moving from richer countries to poorer ones in order to enjoy a better lifestyle, with others going the opposite way for work (i.e. in a bigger scale than it is just now).

It's also going to be interesting to see how Africa deals with population. China has been heavily involved in housing projects in African countries, though so far their efforts don't seem to be working. There is no doubt that more Africans are going to move to urban areas. How will African countries handle this?

I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Would you like to live in a mega city in the future?

Thanks for reading,
Kevin

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