In 1900, only 40% of Americans lived in urban areas.

Today, that number is higher than 80%.

I’m not usually one to mourn the death of the simple rural life—I like living in the city, and all of the modern conveniences it offers. But even I have to admit that there are some problems.

The fast-paced, high-stress reality of city living and the lack of green space can lead to depression and exacerbate other mental health issues. New construction from urban sprawl disrupts ecosystems and displaces wildlife. Outdated development methods can create urban heat islands, which waste energy and contribute to climate change.

Then, you have cities like Houston, Texas, which are vulnerable to natural disasters due to the way they were constructed.

It might seem like urban development and the natural world are diametrically opposed to one another.

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But luckily, many people have worked hard to bring the two into harmony.

Cities devote millions of acres to roads, driveways, and parking lots. While traditional asphalt serve little purpose beyond being driven on, solar roadways can use those roads and lots to harness energy from the sun.

Even in cities where solar paneled streets are impractical, conventional cement can be replaced with absorbent concrete to reduce strain on drainage systems and prevent flooding. Augmenting a drainage system with industrial vacuums can remove toxic runoff from contaminating water supplies, helping both public healthy and the environment.

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The development of farming systems like vertical gardens and aquaponics can even create a high yield of food using much less space than traditional crops. This has already been seen in post-industrial cities like Detroit, where citizens weren’t content to have a food desert and took matters into their own hands. 

It also helps that cities are already greener than their surrounding suburban areas. And with urban populations continuing to grow, that’s good news.