Monday, February 15, 2010

The Built Environment and the Ecosphere: A Global Perspective

Read the copy of chapter “The Built Environment and the Ecosphereand write about your observation:

It is a strong relationship between the growth of the urban population and development of the Countries. In the history the human population has had a rural lifestyle and the world’s population was becoming more urbanized as people move to the cities and search for urban lifestyle. By look at the chart and graphs the big jump on the population growth in the last decade sometimes between 1950 and 2010 appears. In 1950 just 25% of the world’s population used to live in cities and by the end of 2009 this number was raised to 52% and it is estimated to grow to 65% by the end of year 2030. For example, in the United States just 5% of the population lived in cities in 1850 then 70 year later in 1920 about 50% of the population lived in cities. In fact, it was a time for US to start the urbanization. This numbers grows faster than imagination which in 2009 around 85% of the US population lived in cities and suburbs. While just 100% of a population probably can be urbanized so the development of the urbanization is will finished. Historically, Urbanization has directly connected with industrialization. “When more and more inanimate sources of energy were used to enhance human productivity (industrialization), surpluses increased in both agriculture and industry.”
But what are the most important concerns related to speedy Urban Growth? The processes of the urbanization is really bigger than simple population growth, it will change the economy in the society and revolutionize the social and political arrangement of the county. Numerous environmental issues and social changes in the urban environment are the cause of urban growth and its consequence has a strong connection to global change issues. The urban growth also decreases the ability of the cities to offer well to services to residences of the city including energy, health care, transportation, physical security, trash pickup services and education. On the other hand, since administration of the city is not earning enough profit to use on the basic needs of the place, the cities will become the crowded area with severe environmental issues.

On the early 20th centuries the urbanization has a motivation for suburb people to travel to establish the developed cities. Some opportunities like new job and better life style deceived people to look for a new way of life in big cities. Simultaneously, amount of factories got opened in large cities and attract large numbers of migrants looking for employment. In addition, it was a big attraction for investment corporations from developed countries to start businesses in those cities. The major problem of the opening new factories was pollution and urban sprawl. In addition, the change in the physical surroundings and in the form and spatial society of cities is under the Urban sprawl’s responsibility.

Developed and undeveloped countries are different on the percentage of the living in cities. For instance, in some undeveloped countries like India the population of the cities is extremely high and it causes the urban sprawl. It shows that practically 60% of city residents live in the urban margin in poverty and environmental dreadful conditions. High mass arrangements are highly make pollution. Also be short of metropolitan services, including clean water, electricity, natural gas, special service for trash pickup are some problems which those poor people deal with in the daily life.

The problem in developed countries such as United State and Canada has a different shape. In those countries urban sprawl Consequences is even more. It includes the raised traffic on the center of the city as well as suburb, pollution on the water and air, damaged agricultural land and parks, large amount of cost for sewer lines and new water lines, highly cost to make more houses for more people, fire protection places, hospital and universities and finally crowded city with less space and more people on the area.

Some of the serious environmental problems which seem temporarily but would change to be permanent are atmospheric change, unsteady climate and ozone depletion. Those problems are not just affect people on the cities; they would involve people from around the world.

Another important subject related to urban growth is ecological footprint. The Ecological Footprint is the area of earth and ocean required to sustain our consumption of food, goods, services, housing, and energy and assimilate our wastes. “Our ecological footprint is expressed in "global hectares" (gha) or "global acres" (ga), which are standardized units that take into account the differences in biological productivity of various ecosystems impacted by our consumption activities. Our footprint is broken down into four consumption categories: carbon (home energy use and transportation), food, housing, and goods and services.” Our footprint is categorized into four ecosystem forms such as cropland, pastureland, forestland, and marine fisheries.

There are numerous systems to decrease our footprint in the world. By learning those systems we can be more responsible for our generation and by sharing this information with our colleges, friends and community we can make a social change to have a greener environmental in our planet. What we can do is, first use the cleaner transportation services which basically mean walk, bike, or take public transit more than before and try to avid personal car. If we have to use our car it is better to service it regularly. Instead of using airplane take bus or train if it is possible. Second, include energy-saving features to our home. For example put in compact fluorescent bulbs in our home light fixtures, check our walls and ceilings to confirm that they are insulated and if it is possible, consider double-pane windows and also choose energy efficient electrical device for the house. Third, try to track good habits for saving energy. For instance, change our thermostat to the low number in winter and same thing with air conditioning in the summer, also remember to replace dirty air conditioner filters to keep the air conditioning system operate at peak efficiency, turn off the light when we are not in the room and unplug electricity devices when is not in used.

Furthermore, there are different ways to reduce our footprint in the nature. For example buy more local, organic, in-season foods. Enjoy planting and try to plant our own herbs and vegetable. Pay attention to packaging when we shop in super market which means foods with less packaging will reduce waste on the world. Eat less meat because “globally, it has been estimated that 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are associated with meat consumption.”

Finally what is our responsibility as a designer and how we can help as a designer or architect? The most important thing that we can do is prefer sustainable building materials, furnishings, and cleaning products. Think about using the green design features for design, same as passive solar heating, water recycling system and recycled materials. Use efficient appliances, including low flow shower heads and toilets in the building. And finally use biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products.

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