The city and nature
1. City is part of ecosystem
2. Environmental processes are filtered through social arrangements of political and economic
differences. (poor countries, bad effect of natural environment disaster)
-> Natural disasters are directly connected to social processes.
For ex. People who purposely build their homes on places that are more prone to
earthquake disasters or steep hills prone to floods, are the ones who suffers most. They
usually do this due to poor economic conditions in poor countries.
-> Natural disaster also hides social-economic implication.
Citizens of poor countries are usually the ones who get most affected by floods and storms because
they do not have expensive technology to provide as much early warnings or rapid evacuations to
area that are isolated.
Hence disasters provide clear connection between nature and city. Natural appears more social and social
life of cities as implicated in environmental processes.
Nature has two different meanings:
a. Essential quality
b. Material world that can include and exclude human beings
City is part of material world and materiality is shaped and structured by and in cities.
Environmental protection is defined as something outside of and mostly unrelated to concerns and
interest of our cities.
Cities has been understood as separate from "natural" world - reinforced by the idea of increased
separation of life in city. Urban theory have ignored the physical nature of cities and instead
emphasized on social, political and economic. However, cities are ecological systems, predicated
upon physical world.
City is a connection that reflects social, economic and political power, integral part of nature.
City as ecosystem
Ian Douglas - city can be seen as ecosystem with input of energy and water and output of noise,
climate change, sewage, garbage and air pollutants
o Human activity in city is dependent on large and consistent input of energy.
o Ex. Leaving heated building to go to car for grocery shopping is using energy. Commercial
activities, microclimates (heating-winter, cooling-summer) all requires energy
o In countries where energy is expensive, cities tend to be higher in density and more reliant on
o Water is essential in life. Main difference between urban cities is between cities with clean,
easily accessible water and others with expensive, inaccessible and polluted water supplies. o Clean inexpensive water requires expensive engineering projects to take place. In poor cities,
people have polluted urban water as major source, which results in disease and illness
especially among children
o Cities tend to be warmer because of amount of extra heat produced in city and heat-
absorption of man-made material such as asphalt, tarmac and concrete. These surfaces absorb
the heat in day and release it in night. Air around cities is warmer than rural areas.
o Due to consumption of heat, cities require to reduce the need for heating in winter but turn on
air conditioning in summer.
o Extra heat causes induced upward movement of air, produces clouds and increases rainfall
formation. Hence, cities are cloudier, more prone to thunder and slightly warmer than rural
o Industries and autos emit substances that include carbon oxides, sulfur oxides, hydrocarbons,
dust, soot and lead.
o Air in urban cities tend to be unhealthy due to such air pollutants and cause higher urban
These pollutants also cause general damage such as global warming and ozone depletion
Major output - garbage
o High mass consumption increases packaging, rising the output of garbage in cities
o Burning garbage causes air pollution, hiding i