Radio New Zealand recently aired an interview in which two commentators discussed the consequences of continued urban sprawl. The discussion was well reasoned and offered some very valid points. We should endeavour to increase the population densities of our cities and towns, while also making them more liveable, and we need to build (re-build) our cities and towns on a more human scale so that they are not dominated by the automobile. To do otherwise will result in the continued loss of highly productive agricultural land upon which we, and the world, depend. Blanketing such land with concrete and asphalt is foolishness at least, and criminal at worst, for which future generations will not look back kindly upon us for doing.
Unfortunately the discussion missed the main reason for the continued and cancer-like growth of urban sprawl. Until population growth ends, and is stabilised, our only options will be ever increasing urban density or continued urban sprawl – neither of which is a truly sustainable option. Therefore if we are serious about a sustainable future, the only option is to aim for ending population growth sooner, rather than later.