Environment and Cities

I had already known most of what we had talked about in class with the likes or urbanization and population growth. I even had somewhat of an understanding about future problems that would occur. One solution that I know of is that there is a growing movement of home made gardens. In cities there have been talks about having communal gardens at the tops of skyscrapers, or on balconies. This would help decrease air pollution, and give the people in the building a healthy natural source of food.

This is only a small solution and won’t be enough to stop the damage we do to our environment. I’ve heard that cities are starting to include more trees on sidewalks and make roads smaller. This would reduce sound pollution, which is a relatively new idea. The smaller roads would come with an incentive to use bikes or public transport to travel reducing pollution. There are a lot of examples of this in Europe. The amount of change that needs to be made is large and will face opposition, but it is not impossible.

City Planning and Possibly the Environment

Ideally every city is one where people live in homes where everything is accessible and nature still feels natural. This is why the idea of Utopia exists for it is near impossible for something like this to exist. Humans by nature destroy to pave way for their own need if you can call them that. We demolish countless acres of forests and untapped nature and for what you may ask? Homes? Extraordinarily extravagant homes for suburban white moms to write live laugh love all over like a mantra. Despite the best efforts of many famous city planners things almost never work out perfectly in the long run.

I come from a city that is the definition os what a planned suburb looks like when you slap it on an existing real community. Sure Ohio can spare a few soy bean. fields to build a neighborhood or twelve but this mentality os taxing on the environment. Replicated environmental consciousness in the form of a park or trees lining streets does not compare to what has been lost in the long run. But beggars can’t be choosers. For example the completely planned Russian city of Magnitogosk looks actually quite green and vibrant from a satellite perspective but what was lost in the making of a green city like that? Apartment buildings and government offices take up monumental amounts of space and with the human global population increasing exponentially soon making room in a city plan for green may not be an option.

City planning will of course evolve to adapt to this need as it has always done for need in the past. Just hope it comes soon enough. Since the majority of cities are firmly established already it may be hard to make that kind of switch so late.

Cities and the Environment

With this lecture on the environment, the discussion surrounded the environmental history of the 20th century, the dangers of the anthropocene and changes in the environment in the 20th century.I learnt that for man to act on his environment, he does not place himself outside it because nature conversely intervenes to modify the existence of human societies.

Humans sometimes behave like rats and other times sharks which means that they have the ability to get addicted to substances and form large groups to have dominance over others which forms competition. They can also be predatory. In the 20th century alone, global population rose from 1.6 billion to about 6 billion in 2000. Major energy usage by humans, animals to biomass, crude wind and water. There is economic growth with cheap health food and accessible water.

With the Planet of Slums reading, I found interesting at the very beginning of the reading on the 1st page where Davis says ” For the first time the urban population on earth will out number the rural”. This was very striking for me due to the fact that it is something I have observed especially in my hometown. There has been a lot of urban planning to improve health especially for women and children. In Professor Bonk’s lecture he discussed urban planning which involves legibility and standardization, hygiene and efficient movement which is something being campaigned for in my hometown and is essentially crucial for a sanitary awakening.

Urbanization and Environmental Catastrophe

Though in class this week we talked about two different topics, I found it interesting how much they came to be connected. Through the readings, as well as lectures, I can see how Urbanization has become interconnected with environmental damage in contemporary world history.

The population within the last 100 years has been extremely influential in how society functions and what we use our resources on. Looking at the  lecture about cities, a clear theme to me was that  the rapid urbanization and population growth  in cities proved to be very detrimental, as cities did not have the necessary tools to be equipped for this issue. Not only did this create massive hygiene and health issues, but it also very much increased pollution coming out of cities. This can be seen especially through  the United States use of cheap energy such as oil and coal, which very much pollute the globe. We can also see after affects through the  Mike Davis reading. The creation of slums  and Desakotas proved  an even higher sense of pollution because of the inefficient use of the land.

I found the modernist view very interesting because the goals that many urban planners had. It was interesting to see how urban planning, exemplified by Robert Moses was very much about the status quo. Looking at the city plans and pictures, like that of Brasilia, it was weird to see that if you follow the status quo of society it would be very efficient to live your life, but if you wanted to do anything else, it would be a daunting task.

Looking at rapid population growth   and how it relates to the environment was also very interesting. Though it makes common sense, the connection between population growth, energy use, and all the other trends of of the 20th century  was very interesting. I think the most abstract idea was the creation of the limited diet, that caused health issues like gluten allergies and celiacs disease. It can be crazy to think about how much society determines the state of our being. Overall, it was cool to see the interdependence of the two topics and how they impacted modern society.

Environment and Cities in the 19th/20th Century:

Throughout this week we covered, read, and discussed different aspects of recent cities and urbanization within modern history. Beginning with the Bayly chapter reading for Monday, the first thing we examined was the pressure and strain which the fast-growing human population is placing upon our environment. Human attempts at advancement during this time often led to increased strain and in many cases consequences that we still face today. For example, in a later lecture we discussed how increased amounts of young farmers in Rwanda are having to push up mountainsides in order to have space to farm, and in turn has caused mass flash flooding. Along with this idea, Bayly also examined how a new age of innovation has changed human livelihoods. The availability of healthy food is much more prevalent than ever before, and with this we’ve seen increased life spans and other positive impacts. Next, in our Monday lecture we dove more in depth into the environment and the recent strains placed upon it. The fundamental idea behind this lecture was the fact that human success has drastically altered the environment in mostly negative ways. We also discussed how human have changed from being extremely adaptable to now relying on such a specific environment to survive. I found this entire lecture very interesting, and learning more about the specifics of this transition was quite eye-opening. I found it incredible to really see in front of me how humans have, over history, adapted in harnessing new, more efficient forms of energy while at the same time becoming less adaptable. Finally, Wednesday’s lecture talked more specifically about cities. Migration to cities was key to the rise and advancement behind what we see in our world today. Filled with metropolises, it truly began with the industrial revolution. However, these cities were essentially beta versions of modern day cities. Advancement has allowed cities to go from being highly disorganized, dirty, and overpopulated to being much more efficient and fluid. However, the process wasn’t easy, and throughout the 20th century there were many cities that were very limited in respective ways. For example, traffic flow within a particular city may have been improved drastically, but when trying to get to places on foot people’s safety and efficiency were jeopardized. Overall as urbanization continues to grow in relevance and city areas expand, the human race continues to change and, in turn, has to look to solve each new pressing issue that presents itself.

Urban Modernization of the 20th Century

Urbanization is a concept that is growing in relevance by the day. As our population grows the number of urban areas increases. The beginning of the 20th century marked a true explosion in the global population, in 1900 the population was just short of 2 billion people, today it is just under 8 (Lecture). This increase saw the immediate obligation for established cities to completely redesign their layout. The ideas that were brought about from this movement have been categorized as modernism. The movement of modernism had one main goal in mind, functionality (lecture). The modernistic movement sought to eliminate any forms of frivolous design that did not serve a purpose in the facilitation of an efficient city. This functionality focused on things like uniformity, efficient waste management (prior to the 20th century the concept of hygiene was non-existent), and areas of great space to emulate a more open environment. This movement was seen as progressive for its time, however not long after this movement caused more damage than good. In the mid-20th century, a prominent urban planner named Robert Moses sought to make traffic through cities as efficient as possible. His plan to accomplish this was to abruptly build massive causeways through densely populated urban areas, these causeways would intentionally direct people to regions which were planned to have heavy amounts of commercialization. Moses tried to implement this plan in New York, his plan came to fruition in areas that were of low income due to a financial inability to protest these massive developments (Lecture). His plan did, however, fail in areas of higher income such as Manhattan. Plans of modernization such as these aimed at hyper-efficacy, however, they did not take into account the fluidity of people. Rather than study the paths of movement people already used, Moses aimed to create an entirely new form of transportation regardless if people thought it to be an upgrade. Because of this, many “modernization” projects of the early to late 20th century are now being reversed to emphasize a more “grass-roots” idea of the urban environment. Modernization began as a beneficial progressive movement that benefited every persons quality of life, however, over time it became forceful and disrupted the natural fluidity of people.