Per Square Mile

the-worlds-population-concentrated[click to embiggen]

The infographic above shows how big a city would have to be to house the entirety of the worlds population if they lived like the residents of various cities, using the continental United States for scale. Its author, Tim de Chant, considered only the geographical space taken up by the residents and not the land required to provide them with resources like food and water in this particular graphic. He has, however, investigated these other factors as well:

What’s missing from it is the land that it takes to support such a city. In articles and comments about my infographic, some people overlooked that aspect—either mistakenly or intentionally. They shouldn’t have. Cities’ land requirements far outstrip their immediate physical footprints. They include everything from farmland to transportation networks to forests and open space that recharge fresh water sources like rivers and aquifers. And more. Just looking at a city’s geographic extents ignores its more important ecological footprint. How much land would we really need if everyone lived like New Yorkers versus Houstonians?

It turns out that question is maddeningly difficult to answer. While some cities track resource use, most don’t. Of those that do, methodologies vary city to city, making comparisons nearly impossible. Plus, cities in most developed nations still use a shocking amount of resources, regardless of whether they are as dense as New York or as sprawling as Houston. Any comparison of the cities in my original infographic would be an exercise in futility at this point.

If the World’s Population Lived Like…   [Per Square Mile]   [Dekuju, M!]

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