By the end of this decade, more than half of the world's population will live in cities, making humanity a predominantly urban species for the first time in its history. Most of the world's cities, however, impose a huge burden on the environment and fail to provide decent living conditions for hundreds of millions of people. For example, fuels burned in cities generate over three-quarters of global carbon emissions from human activities. And some 1 billion urbanites lack adequate shelter, living without easy access to clean water, toilets, or electricity. Worldwatch research on urbanization emphasizes the need to close water and waste loops, boost self-reliance in food and energy, and link transportation and land use.

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