Urbanization is a “spatial transformation” where people from rural areas move to urban areas (Luc & Todo, 2014). Looking down on urbanization is a popular view with regards to the environment. However, this shouldn’t be the case, in fact there are many ways that urbanization positively impacts the environment.
Urbanization creates high density, which allows for transportation (public and private) to be more environmentally friendly (Wan, 2013). Environmentally friendly methods of transportation such as bikes, walking and public transportation (public busses, metro, ect.) tend to improve air quality in urban areas. This is very important for public health because cars produce NOx, an atmospheric pollutant which can damage lung tissue and cause respiratory problems. It also damages plant tissue and plays a role in creating acid rain. It’s especially dangerous for those who live by the congested parts of roads such as highways because they are exposed to a higher amount of NOx, thus putting their health in more jeopardy. 29% of greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to transportation and having public transportation can reduce these emissions (measured in emissions per passenger mile), the largest decrease in green house gas emissions is using metros and subways with a decrease of about 76%, then light rail systems at 62% and public busses at 33% less (FTA, 2015). The decrease in greenhouse gasses (GHG) means that the “blanket” of GHG surrounding the earth isn’t as heavy, helping to slow down global warming. Not only does it help with the decrease in green house gasses, but many places by the highways are small suburbs this is because many of the big, expensive houses are closer in town because that’s where the better views are, this means that the middle- lower class get the cheaper houses and apartments close to the high way. If there is an increase in public transportation, there will be a decrease in the amount of people affected by the air pollutants which helps people save on expensive medical bills which many in poverty can’t afford.
Urbanization creates economic growth which helps to reduce overall poverty (Ravallion, M. 2007). When urban areas are expanding, more businesses are created thus in turn creating more jobs. This also increases the mean income due to competitive wages (Ravallion, M. 2007). Allowing people to earn more, thus pulling themselves above the line of poverty (Poverty and Urbanization, 2006) or at least being able to make a wage that they can survive on. Urbanization helps this process because when more people move to the cities, there are more people on the streets to buy products from the vendors. With out this growth in the cities, the families in poverty would have a much harder time earning money. Tourism also plays a big part, people want to visit urbanized cities not only for the food but for the landscapes that can’t be seen elsewhere and a chance to experience different cultures. As more and more tourist flock to the city each year, more hotels, restaurants and stores are needed. As more businesses are needed, more workers are needed as well. 1 out of every 11 workers are employed due to tourism (Banerjee, 2018). And many more can find jobs as vendors on the streets. Reducing poverty is important so that people can focus on taking care of just more than their basic needs, such as their education.
Those who live in urban areas tend to have better education and attendance (in school) than those who live in rural areas (Bertinelli & Black, 2004). In urban areas, the places in the community are a lot closer together, making it easier for students to get their schools. With a shorter commute to school, students are more likely to attend because it’s not a huge inconvenience for them. While in rural areas students can live up to several hours away from the nearest school making it a lot less accessible for any transportation (busses, parents, ect.). This problem with rural areas can deter students from attending school and finding a job to help support their family instead. Education is important for the environment because students can learn about environmental issues and start to understand that they do have the power to impact the environment at a young age. When students bring that information home and talk to parents and siblings about it, it allows for more public awareness (EPA, 2018). If students do find a passion for the environment through education they can go on to do things such as create and operate green technologies giving the public more energy efficient products (Wan, 2013). Understanding environmental issues in school isn’t only important for future inventions but it’s also important for future voting. The more that students can be educated about their environment and the things that harm it, the better the chance is that they vote for people/laws that can help fix it. For example, when the people re-elected Richard Nixon, he signed the Clean Air Act, and created a plan of the Environmental Protection Agency (Laur, G., 2016). Education is important to the environment because it shapes the next generation and they help shape the future.
While many look down on urbanization in relation to the environment, it can be very beneficial if utilized in the right way. By providing public transportation, there is less pollution being released into the air. The less pollution there is, the more likely the urbanized area is to attract tourists therefore creating jobs and competitive wages. When people don’t have to worry about their basic needs they can afford to focus on other important things such as education. Through education about the environment, it inspires many to make a difference and find solutions to help improve the environment.
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