How can we apply this idea in this Chapter?
The links are two, population and affluence. The Australian population has been growing at varying rates for nearly two centuries. As well, the proportion of the national population that is urban rather than rural has been growing.
The cities now contain the largest proportion of the Australian population and have done so for at least a century.
The general level of affluence of Australians has increased too, particularly since the end of the Second World War. This increase in personal wealth led to an increase in the level of private automobile ownership within Australian society. This in turn resulted in profound changes in transport usage by a rapidly growing urban population.
Table: Car cities
Both factors - growth in population size and in level of affluence - have shaped the nature and dynamics of our cities. We can detect the influence of these in the images of our cities from space.
That is my conclusion after examining the satellite images to be presented in this Chapter. I leave you to reach your conclusion after completing your own analysis. First we set the scene and prepare you for the exploration of our cities from space.
In the last century and particularly in the last 40 years, the cities have grown at the expense of the rural areas. As Australia's population has increased, so too has the size and populousness of its cities.
Australian cities have another characteristic besides their steady growth. Most city dwellers live in low density suburbs. The high population density dwellings such as multistorey apartments are in the minority. Most urban dwellers live in detached bungalows surrounded by garden. Because of this low density housing style and the steady growth in the number of people to be housed, the area occupied by Australian cities is very large. Compared with the cities of Europe, those in Australia are sprawling and endlessly engulfing the surrounding countryside.
For many reasons, but particularly those of social welfare, infrastructure cost and the loss of productive peri-urban (agricultural) land to housing, the continuing outward creep of the cities has been identified as a problem of national importance. Crowding people together is however not the answer.
Urban growth rates - figures for Australia
Urban growth rates - figures for the world