Earth has experienced rapid urbanisation in recent centuries. The transition from predominantly rural living to large urban areas has not only brought about great benefits, but also severe problems. As billions of people make their ways to ever larger cities, housing is rapidly becoming a major global concern. Cities cannot keep up with the growing demand for affordable, quality shelter. Consequently, many people end up in slums.
Slums have an adverse effect on quality of life and well-being. Deplorable living conditions, poor sanitation, rampant diseases, high child mortality and low chances of good education are among the negative effects that slum dwellers are confronted with.
It is estimated by the United Nations that over a billion people will live in slum conditions by 2020. Yet, housing problems are not uniquely confined to developing nations. Some developed nations also lack access to decent affordable housing for all. High housing costs mean that some people need to forego other necessities, and their quality of life is adversely affected.
As population size grows, the need for housing will grow as well. The Earth has, after all, limited space that can be used for building. As demand grows, plot prices grow as well. Scarcity of land and resources will make the creation of ever more housing increasingly difficult.
While communities try to improve housing conditions by enhancing land use efficiency, it is clear that housing demands cannot be met without compromising on other areas. Prime agricultural land required to supply food is lost. The construction of new homes also erodes green areas around the globe faster than ever before, thereby eliminating the many positive influences these have on humanity and wildlife.
Furthermore, finite, and in some cases shrinking, natural resources are required for the construction and maintenance of properties.
Transport has developed substantially through the ages. For centuries, mankind relied on pack animals, animal drawn vehicles and sailing vessels. Yet, over time, great inventions have accelerated transport development. Improved carrying capacity and speed had a great impact on the functioning of society. Gradually, it became easier to carry goods and travel over long distances, while journey times were reduced greatly compared to earlier times.
Unfortunately, benefits are increasingly being accompanied by problems. Ever-more people means an ever-growing need for transport. Levels of transport congestion around the world are rising as populations grow and become more urbanised.
The consequences of this development are far-reaching. Lengthened journey times, health deterioration, higher stress levels, increased pollution and higher fuel consumption are but a few of the side-effects that accompany population growth. All of these have an adverse effect on productivity and quality of life.
Some of the benefits created by previous developments in the field of transport are jeopardised by soaring population numbers. Society struggles to keep up with the maintenance, expansion and upgrading of the transport facilities people require. Consequently, people are faced with increased fares, excessive noise pollution and poor air quality. It is true that journey times are still much shorter than in pre-industrial revolution times, but the expectation is that these will worsen in future years compared to the recent past.
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