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Question Your World: The Mega City

Happy New Year! Millions of people gather each year in New York City to usher in the upcoming year. Billions more join this celebration in various other mega cities around the planet. So, what is a mega city? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.

Each year around midnight on December 31st, cameras bring us images of the whole world celebrating the countdown into a promising new year. We see places such as Mumbai, London, and Mexico City, all filled with crowded streets cheering on the passing of time. These places are picked because they are a large concentration of our planet’s population. These mega cities are appropriately labeled “mega cities.” A metropolitan population that exceeds 10 million people is by definition a mega city.

In 1950, New York City was the only place in the United States that could claim that title. In 2014, we can add four more to that list. Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC all now have 10 million-plus populations. The 4 mega cities in the United States join 20 other places around the planet to comprise the most dense urban areas for human populations. The largest of these is Tokyo, Japan - holding an amazing 34 million people!

As the global population rises, so does the need to find a place for all these people. Cities have long been the thriving epicenters of human development and continue to do so as we expand in our numbers. In fact, if global population rates keep up at this rate, nearly 3 out of ever 5 people on this planet will be living in a mega city by the year 2030. In just 16 years we could see that number become a reality.

Currently, we have a little over seven billion people on Earth and steadily growing! Interestingly enough - as of now - the entire human population can fit scrunched next to one another in the city limits of Los Angeles. A similar comparison here in Virginia would be the city of Richmond and parts of a surrounding county.

While physical space is not a concern for the number of constantly growing humans on Earth, resources sure are. Fortunately, we have a whole new year upon us to discuss and better understand the topic of global resources for our current population and most certainly for the future.

Happy New Year everyone!

Article by: Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia
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