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Lecture 6

GGRA03 Lecture 6.doc

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Andrew Kaufman

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GGRA03 Lecture 6 14.02.12 Lecture 6: Urban Ecology and Urban Political Ecology Today - Urban ecology basics - Cities as flows - Urban energy - Food webs - Ecological footprints - Urban political ecology  urban areas are ecosystems that are thought of systems - Power - Hegemony - Cultural landscapes - Capital Urban Ecology Basics - Ecology OF cities, not IN cities o Thinking about Ecology of Cities, not ecologies in Cities is a new way of understanding and seeing cities and urban processes o 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 flows o Flows of energy is a way of looking at how ecosystems function and the waste products they produce o Where you have large amounts of waste, we have large amounts of species who use them - Cities are a special kind of ecosystems o Cities are not a ‘natural’ ecosystem. They have their own dynamics - What is the overall structure of urban ecosystems? o The first insight is important, the seed in cities. Over the last couple of weeks, we have discussed that the globe is an urban system, it is GLOBAL, and fuelling the urban system while it produces vast amounts of waste o We look at the flows of products, people, waste, food, etc… are all travelling from different nodes of the world Questions: How can we understand, describe and measure the overall structure of urban ecosystems? - Urban ecosystems are cities, towns, and urban strips that are constructed by humans. - One way to understand, describe and measure the structure of urban ecosystems is to look at flows - Main features of urban ecology are—considering energy flow, urban footprints, natural capital, biophysical cycles and cities as biotic communities One is to look at flows within urban ecosystems There are two types of flows: Closed and Open loops Closed and Open Loops - Natural ecosystems contain multiple relatively stable nutrient loops o We have numerous CLOSED loops in the ecosystems - There is no waste in natural ecosystems - Seeing cities as ecosystems makes clear that cities are not closed loops 1 GGRA03 Lecture 6 14.02.12 - Cities import water, energy, good on the vast scale, from very long distances, raw materials, finished goods such as furniture that people use in everyday life o Clean AIR is an input into cities o Cities are open loops because we bring in huge amounts of things into cities - And export their waste (garbage) into global waste sinks o Another output can be if you are making steel and you export it out to other places o Most volume of waste is water which we put back into the ocean after it has been treated o Solid waste we put into the ground and cover it with dirt wishing that it would go away o Waste is very problematic—we are producing more waste per capita every year o Polluted air we expect the wind will blow it away Looked at this way, cities are machines of human consumption and waste production - Most waste disposal solutions so far have involved finding better waste sinks, not reducing or re-using - Industrial ecology seeks to close loops o We can close the loops by industrial ecologist who examine how it is possible to put such inputs into other industries. Raw materials are becoming expensive and if we can re-use them then we are saving money o Disposing of waste is also getting more and more expensive, thus it becomes an incentive to find solutions - All the global scale, all loops are closed o As a GLOBE, all the loops are closed. There are no open loops because everything becomes part of our environment Cities as Flows - Some key work on urban ecology studies cities as flows (of people, energy, goods, water, nutrients) - A fundamental characteristics of contemporary cities is that they depend on huge glows of energy - Electricity, gasoline, natural gas, food (embodied energy as human fuel) o Everything is going to get more expensive o We are searching for more resources such as oil from the arctic which is quite expensive o Oil from tar sand is very expensive  the net energy from it is only 20%  It is not very efficient - Over the last 200 years, the transformation of cities has been permitted y the change from human and animal power to hydroelectric, fossil fuels, nuclear power, and recently solar, and wind 2 GGRA03 Lecture 6 14.02.12 - For most of that period, energy prices have been declining relative to incoth, especially in North America energy use per capita accelerated dramatically in 20 century - we know that this creates problems of pollution, global warming, etc. - But cities are also sites of potential efficiencies in energy use - Public transit, co-generation and district heating, can save huge amounts of energy Flows of Energy - Huge inputs of fossil fuels are how we built our urban civilization on - Early use per capita has accelerated dramatically in the 20 century - We all know that there creates problems of pollution, global warming… - But cities are also sites of potential efficiencies in energy use o In the USA, the number 1 city that is energy efficient is NEW YORK CITY because housing is expensive, parking is expensive, and transit system is amazing o Cities can be efficient—you can have high quality life without using so much energy - Public transit, co-generation and district heating can save huge amounts of energy o All of this will done because it is profitable not because of government policies o In Toronto region we see it happening in MARKHAM TOWN o IBM in Canada, they built a co-generation plant where the waste heat will be RE USED to make electricity in the buildings (low-grade heat)  Other corporate office buildings are using this system  In Europe, the new train station in Amsterdam: the housing and office buildings around the train station is heated from the body heat people are releasing in the train station Flows of food are a major part of urban flows Imagine the food inputs in Toronto - Picture the food inputs to Toronto that is being trucked, railway, air; its huge quantities from thousands of producers from all around the world o It is processed and distributed into different kinds of grocery stores, hospital, restaurants etc.. - Sourced from around the world - Enormous diversity, 1000s of different products - Processing industries - Distribution, retailing - Need to keep fresh, wastage - This consumes huge amounts of energy at each stage - LOCAL food? Why is this recent public issue? o Security and resilience Question: Why is LOCAL food a recent public issue? - Energy intensity, freshness, quality control, securi
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