Class Notes (809,390)
Canada (493,689)
Geography (708)
GGRA03H3 (139)
Lecture 8

GGRA03H3 - Lecture 8.docx

7 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto Scarborough
Andre Sorensen

GGRA03H3 – Week 8 – Urban Political Ecology Urban Ecology Basics - Ecology OF cities, not IN cities - A new way of understanding and seeing cities and urban processes - Ecology is the study of the relations of living organisms to each other and to their surroundings - Ecology studies flows within particular ecosystems, of nutrients, energy, waste, and the subsystems that structure those flaws - Cities are a special kind of ecosystem - Lots of research still to do on what kinds of ecosystem cities are Cities as Biotic Systems - Some urban ecologists study cities as biotic systems. - Examine the ways in which cities create new ecological niches for certain species (plants and animals) - City ecosystems selectively breed animals like raccoons, squirrels, pigeons, etc. by eliminating predators, and providing sources of food o Very few predators for those animals, thus higher population o Large amount of food - Urban monocultures represent a radical simplification of ecological systems, through design, chemical warfare, impermeable surfaces, and flamethrowers. Urban Ecosystems - Cities are not an ecological void, but a setting rich in certain species of plants, animals, birds, insects, diseases - What kinds of long-term impacts of cities on ecosystems might be of concern? - Cities provide breeding grounds for invasive species and diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile fever. - Invasive species are in part a product of urban monocultures, globalization, materials and product flows. Key Concept 1 - The idea of studying cities as ecosystems gave rise to Urban Ecology o Cities are a special kind of ecosystem, created by people o Cities are not an empty space, but provide distinctive ecological niches and habitats o Those ecological niches support complex and city-specific plan and animal systems o Urban monoculture ecosystems can be ideal breeding grounds for disease vectors Urban Ecology - Urban ecology is the study of the relation of living organisms with each other and their surroundings in the context of an urban environment Closed and Open loops - Natural ecosystems contain multiple relatively stable nutrient loops - There is no waste in natural ecosystems o All wastes end up being recycled and reused. - Seeing cities as ecosystems makes clear that cities are not closed loops - Cities import water, energy, food on a vast scale, from very long distances o And export their wastes into global waste sinks - Most waste disposal solutions so far have involved finding better waste sinks, not reducing or re-using. - Industrial ecology seeks to close loops - At a global scale, all loops are closed. Key Concept 2 - A major contribution of urban ecology is to see cities as flows, inputs & outputs o In nature there are no ‘waste products’ or garbage, as all outputs are inputs to other processes o But cities are not closed loops, but open loops, in which large volumes of inputs are converted into wastes, which are not re-used within the system. o A major focus of urban engineering is the find ways to close these loops Cities as Flows - Some key work on urban ecology studies cities as flows (of people, energy, goods, water, nutrients, etc.) - A fundamental characteristic of contemporary cities is that they depend on huge flows of energy - Electricity, gasoline, natural gas, food o Coal is cheap, but very dirty. - Over the last 200 years, a transformation of cities has been permitted by the change from human and animal power to hydro-electric, fossil fuels, nuclear power, and recently solar and wind. - For most of that period, energy prices have been declining relative to income. Flows of Energy - Huge inputs of fossil fuels make contemporary cities possible th - Energy use per capita accelerated dramatically in 20 century - We all know that this creates problems of pollution, global warming, etc. - But it also means that cities represent important sites of potential efficiencies in energy use - Public transit, co-generation and district heating can save huge amounts of energy. o Public transit is fast, and much more cost efficient than driving in a place like Japan. Flows of Food - Picture the food inputs to Toronto - Sourced from around the world - Enormous diversity, 1000s of different products - Processing industries - Distribution, retailing - Need to keep fresh, wastage - Huge amounts of energy at each stage - LOCAL food? Why is this a recent public issue? Reasons for local food - A significant debate has emerged during the last 10 years about the potential benefit of local food sourcing - In favour: o Reduced energy inputs o Promoting local suppliers o Greater freshness & quality control o More variety o Promoting sustainable agriculture - But many of these advantages are disputed by those who argue that markets are likely to promote production in the most efficient location and climate. Key Concept 3 - Energy is one of the primary flows into cities, and producer of wastes o A key way to study ecological systems is to examine nutrient (energy) flows. o Contemporary cities depend on huge flows of energy in part because energy has been so cheap for 100 years o Dependence on cheap energy is a major risk factor o Food is still a major input to cities with complex logistics systems moving food long distances o Local food sourcing is often proposed as an alternative but the benefits are debated. Ecological Footprint Analysis - Asks what is the total area o
More Less

Related notes for GGRA03H3

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.