One of the most common objections to new housing is that the place is already too crowded and potentially even full. But Jerusalem Demsas’ recently article in The Atlantic about how much people seem to hate other people is a good reminder that the topic of overpopulation can be a complicated one.
Because what are we really saying when we say a place is too crowded or full? Is it just that this particular neighborhood is full, or are we talking about entire cities being full?
Moreover, who determines when a place is full? Berkeley, California is, for example, a hell of a lot less dense than a city like Paris. So if a place like Berkeley can be considered full by some people, what does that mean for Paris? Presumably it’s entirely unliveable.
Or could it be that the entire world is simply full and we should be looking at more drastic measures to curb population growth (in the places that are actually reaching replacement-level fertility rates)?
It’s all very complicated. Thankfully Demsas offers up some possible solutions in her article:
We have, of course, discovered an elusive technology to allow more people to live on less land: It’s called an apartment building. And if people would like fewer neighbors competing for parking spaces, then they should rest assured that buses, trains, protected bike lanes, and maintained sidewalks are effective, cutting-edge inventions available to all.
Or it could be that the public realm is not up to the task of accommodating more people. I like to say that a decrease in the quantity private space (e.g., higher densities) must be offset by an increase in the quality of public space.
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