Coursework: Air Pollution and Urbanization Essay

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The benefits of urbanization outweigh the costs. Discuss.

“Urbanization is the increase in the proportion of people living in towns and cities” (Learn on the Internet, 2008). Globally, urbanization is increasing. For example, in 1950, the percentage of urbanization was 30%, now, it is around 55%, and by 2030, it may rise to 60%. (WHO, 2010). In addition, this phenomenon usually happens in developing countries. At present, urbanization is mostly happening in countries such as China and India (Learn on the Internet, 2008). For instance, in 1980, there were 501 million urban residents in low income countries, but in1995, this increased to 912 million. People move from the countryside to cities for several reasons. One reason may due to “population pressure and lack of resources in rural areas” (Learn on the Internet, 2008). A more positive reason may for this move be better opportunities which include higher salaries and health care. In spite of these benefits, there are also some costs. In this essay, the benefits and costs of urbanization will be discussed. It will first focus on three benefits then two costs. Urbanization has several benefits. Benefit number one is efficiency. Efficiency here means using less time to do more things. One example of efficiency is that recycling programmes can be carried out because of the concentrated population. People usually live in apartment complexes and there may be hundreds of people living in one block. Compared with individual houses, the energy, water and heating is easier to deliver, and waste can be collected easily in one place (Whyarticles, 2011). Another example of efficiency can be the subway. Generally, the subway may be every 5 minutes, but in rush time, the number of train increase to one every 2 minutes, it helps people to be more efficient. Benefit number two is convenience. For example, travel in most cities is convenient because they have a good transport system which helps people to travel around the city. Many amenities (schools, hospitals, restaurants) are nearby, that is they are concentrated together. This means it is easier to go to school, visit the hospital when feeling sick or go to restaurant for dinner in a short period of time (Vimala, 2010). The second example of convenience is urbanization have more opportunties for free time activities. In the centre of the city, there are many shopping malls, theaters, museums. People can choose one they like to spend their free time. Some people may like to go to shopping malls, because they can do some activities in one place. For instance, when they are hungry, they can go to the bottom of the mall to get some food. At the top, there might be a theater, they can watch a movie instead when they get tired of shopping (Whyarticles, n.d.). Benefit number three is agglomeration of population. This means the clustering of people together. This creates two benefits. One is common infrastructures, like utilities (electricity, water, hospitals, schools) or public transit (subway, public buses, taxis, roads). Another is big groups of people who have different skills (People, n.d.).
Nevertheless, there are also some costs of urbanization. The first cost of urbanization is air pollution. Factories and automobiles are symbols of urbanization, but they release a lot of harmful gases and cause air pollution. According to research by The World Bank (2011), in 1995, the particulate air pollution in Beijing was 377 micrograms per cubic metre, and in Delhi, it was 415. This shows that developing countries have more pollution than developed countries. At the same time, the urban population of low-income countries increased to 912 million urban residents. This suggests that urbanization cause air pollution. The second cost is unemployment. Urbanization results in the increase of population. For example, more and more people move from rural areas to urban areas because they think living in cities will provide more