The Effects of Rapid Urbanization

by AmandaMateus on October 4, 2017 - 9:01pm

The article, “Can Smarter Growth Guide China’s Urban Building Boom?” by David Biello, the science curator for TED as well as the contributing editor for Scientific American, explains several ideas and setbacks regarding rapid growth in cities, particularly in the city Ordos in China. In this article, Biello justifies the effects of rapid urbanization on the environment and presents practical solutions to avoid unsustainable methods of construction. The high demand for apartment buildings and amenities for the million new residents in these areas leads to poor construction.  The current approach to the constructions of these cities, leads to structures needing to be rebuilt shortly after being constructed and the tearing down of infrastructure that could be recycled. To avoid unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions, it is important for countries undergoing urbanization, especially, to implement laws ensuring the use of energy efficient materials in new buildings creating building codes with green designs and efficiency standards is what the author suggests.

The purpose of this article is to educate the audience on the enormous impact on the environment the construction of these buildings have in areas undergoing rapid urbanization and that there are ways to minimize these impacts. Rapid urbanization is a social issue seeing as if this process isn’t done in an intelligent way, people living in these areas will be greatly affected. Seeing as they will be involved with all the inefficient designs, leading to individual and governmental tribulations. Also, this is a social issue seeing as at the moment China is the country with the highest carbon dioxide emission in the world, this affecting the overall health of the world.

I believe it is essential for the government to intervene in the building plans of these cities experiencing rapid urbanization by implementing smart growth laws. In order to encourage the government to execute these laws, communities need to promote their interest in green cities. Possible roadblocks when trying to solve this issue is money, seeing as by implementing green materials and durable construction is very costly. However, in the long run, this strategy avoids a lot of problems regarding reconstruction, energy efficiency and climate change.  


Biello , David . “Can Smarter Growth Guide China’s Urban Building Boom?” Yale E360, Yale School of   

          Forestry & Environmental Studies, 13 Feb. 2012,

The articles sources are not provided.


Amanda Mateus


This summary is very thought-provoking because it clearly illustrates the problems with rapid urbanization in developing countries. I completely agree with the idea that governments should intervene in city planning in order to minimize the effects of rapid urbanization. As mentioned in the summary, China’s carbon dioxide emission has a great impact on the health of everyone in the world but it has an even bigger impact on the health of the Chinese population. A survey done in 2006 revealed that “more than a quarter of municipal drinking water plants and more than half of private plants were not complying with monitoring requirements for water quality” (Gong, et al., 2012, p.847). The infrastructure already established these cities does not function properly. Yet, the population continues to grow exponentially. Thus, rapid urbanization will lead to health problems for city residents since the municipalities are not yet equipped to welcome and accommodate such a large number of newcomers. Furthermore, due to the influx of residents and factories, pollution has significantly grown which has led to 400 000 premature deaths per year in China (p.847). Thus, rapid urbanization in developing countries has a tremendous negative impact on the new residents as well as on the world. That is why smart growth law are a great idea for developing countries.

Gong, P., Liang, S., Carlton, E.J., Jiang, Q., Wu, J., Wang, J., & Remais, J.V. (2012) Urbanization and Health in China. The Lancet, 379 (9818), 843-852. Retrieved from Research Library.