The United States has evolved into a nation of twenty densely populated megaregions. Yet despite the environmental advantages of urban density, urban sprawl and reliance on the private car still set the pattern for most new development. Cars guzzle not only gas but also space, as massive acreage is dedicated to roadways and parking. Even more pressing, the replication of this pattern throughout the fast-developing world makes it doubtful that we will achieve the reductions in carbon emissions needed to avoid climate catastrophe.
Every day in American cities street vendors spread out their wares on sidewalks, food trucks serve lunch from the curb, and homeowners hold sales in their front yards—examples of the wide range of informal activities that take place largely beyond the reach of government regulation. This book examines the “informal revolution" in American urban life, exploring a proliferating phenomenon often associated with developing countries rather than industrialized ones and often dismissed by planners and policy makers as marginal or even criminal.
The development and deployment of cleaner energy technologies have become globalized phenomena. Yet despite the fact that energy-related goods account for more than ten percent of international trade, policy makers, academics, and the business community perceive barriers to the global diffusion of these emerging technologies. Experts point to problems including intellectual property concerns, trade barriers, and developing countries’ limited access to technology and funding.
In colleges and universities across the United States, students, faculty, and staff are forging new paths to sustainability. From private liberal arts colleges to major research institutions to community colleges, sustainability concerns are being integrated into curricula, policies, and programs. New divisions, degree programs, and courses of study cross traditional disciplinary boundaries; Sustainability Councils become part of campus governance; and new sustainability issues link to historic social and educational missions.
Buildings are the nation’s greatest energy consumers. Forty percent of all our energy is used for heating, cooling, lighting, and powering machines and devices in buildings. And despite decades of investment in green construction technologies, residential and commercial buildings remain stubbornly energy inefficient.
Conventional wisdom about the environmental impact of cities holds that urbanization and environmental quality are necessarily at odds. Cities are seen to be sites of ecological disruption, consuming a disproportionate share of natural resources, producing high levels of pollution, and concentrating harmful emissions precisely where the population is most concentrated. Cities appear to be particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, to be inherently at risk from outbreaks of infectious diseases, and even to offer dysfunctional and unnatural settings for human life.
Attempts by local governments to privatize water services have met with furious opposition. Activists argue that to give private companies control of the water supply is to turn water from a common resource into a marketized commodity. Moreover, to cede local power to a global corporation puts communities at the center of controversies over economic globalization.
Urban freeways often cut through the heart of a city, destroying neighborhoods, displacing residents, and reconfiguring street maps. These massive infrastructure projects, costing billions of dollars in transportation funds, have been shaped for the last half century by the ideas of highway engineers, urban planners, landscape architects, and architects—with highway engineers playing the leading role.
Bicycling in cities is booming, for many reasons: health and environmental benefits, time and cost savings, more and better bike lanes and paths, innovative bike sharing programs, and the sheer fun of riding. City Cycling offers a guide to this urban cycling renaissance, with the goal of promoting cycling as sustainable urban transportation available to everyone.
Garbage, considered both materially and culturally, elicits mixed responses. Our responsibility toward the objects we love and then discard is entangled with our responsibility toward the systems that make those objects. Histories of the Dustheap uses garbage, waste, and refuse to investigate the relationships between various systems--the local and the global, the economic and the ecological, the historical and the contemporary--and shows how this most democratic reality produces identities, social relations, and policies.
Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy is the first book to explore the broad implications of the convergence of industrial and environnmental policy in the United States. Under the banner of “green jobs,” clean energy industries and labor, environmental, and antipoverty organizations have forged “blue-green” alliances and achieved some policy victories, most notably at the state and local levels. In this book, David Hess explores the politics of green energy and green jobs, linking the prospect of a green transition to tectonic shifts in the global economy.
American urban form--the spaces, places, and boundaries that define city life--has been evolving since the first settlements of colonial days. The changing patterns of houses, buildings, streets, parks, pipes and wires, wharves, railroads, highways, and airports reflect changing patterns of the social, political, and economic processes that shape the city. In this book, Sam Bass Warner and Andrew Whittemore map more than three hundred years of the American city through the evolution of urban form.
Recycling is widely celebrated as an environmental success story. The accomplishments of the recycling movement can be seen in municipal practice, a thriving private recycling industry, and widespread public support and participation. In the United States, more people recycle than vote. But, as Samantha MacBride points out in this book, the goals of recycling--saving the earth (and trees), conserving resources, and greening the economy--are still far from being realized. The vast majority of solid wastes are still burned or buried.
America’s once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities–Syracuse, Worcester, Akron, Flint, Rockford, and others--increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Gutted by deindustrialization, outsourcing, and middle-class flight, disproportionately devastated by metro freeway systems that laid waste to the urban fabric and displaced the working poor, and struggling with pockets of poverty reminiscent of postcolonial squalor, small industrial cities--as a class–have become invisible to a public distracted by the Wall Street (big city) versus Main Street (small town) matchup.
Biological sewage treatment, like electricity, power generation, telephones, and mass transit, has been a key technology and a major part of the urban infrastructure since the late nineteenth century. But sewage treatment plants are not only a ubiquitous component of the modern city, they are also ecosystems--a hybrid variety that incorporates elements of both nature and industry and embodies multiple contradictions.
By the end of the twentieth century, America’s suburbs contained more office space than its central cities. Many of these corporate workplaces were surrounded, somewhat incongruously, by verdant vistas of broad lawns and leafy trees. In Pastoral Capitalism, Louise Mozingo describes the evolution of these central (but often ignored) features of postwar urbanism in the context of the modern capitalist enterprise.
Over the course of nearly thirty years, the environmental justice movement has changed the politics of environmental activism and influenced environmental policy. In the process, it has turned the attention of environmental activists and regulatory agencies to issues of pollution, toxics, and human health as they affect ordinary people, especially people of color. This book argues that the environmental justice movement has also begun to transform science and engineering.
When rain falls on the city, it creates urban runoff that cause flooding, erosion, and water pollution. Municipal engineers manage a complex network of technical and natural systems to treat and remove these temporary water flows from cities as quickly as possible. Urban runoff is frequently discussed in terms of technical expertise and environmental management, but it encompasses a multitude of such nontechnical issues as land use, quality of life, governance, aesthetics, and community identity, and is central to the larger debates on creating more sustainable and livable cities.
Multinational corporations often exploit natural resources or locate factories in poor countries far from the demand for the products and profits that result. Developed countries also routinely dump hazardous materials and produce greenhouse gas emissions that have a disproportionate impact on developing countries. This book investigates how these and other globalized practices exact high social and environmental costs as poor, local communities are forced to cope with depleted resources, pollution, health problems, and social and cultural disruption.
In distressed urban neighborhoods where residential segregation concentrates poverty, liquor stores outnumber supermarkets, toxic sites are next to playgrounds, and more money is spent on prisons than schools, residents also suffer disproportionately from disease and premature death. Recognizing that city environments and the planning processes that shape them are powerful determinants of population health, urban planners today are beginning to take on the added challenge of revitalizing neglected urban neighborhoods in ways that improve health and promote greater equity.
The legacy of environmental catastrophe in the states of the former Soviet Union includes desertification, pollution, and the toxic aftermath of industrial accidents, the most notorious of which was the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. This book examines the development of environmental activism in Russia and the former Soviet republics in response to these problems and its effect on policy and planning. It also shows that because of increasing economic, ethnic, and social inequality in the former Soviet states, debates over environmental justice are beginning to come to the fore.
The emerging metropolitan regional-equity movement promotes innovative policies to ensure that all communities in a metropolitan region share resources and opportunities equally. Too often, low-income communities and communities of color bear a disproportionate burden of pollution and lack access to basic infrastructure and job opportunities. The metropolitan regional-equity movement—sometimes referred to as a new civil rights movement—works for solutions to these problems that take into account entire metropolitan regions: the inner-city core, the suburbs, and exurban areas.
The internationalization of economies and other changes that accompany globalization have brought about a paradoxical reemergence of the local. A significant but largely unstudied aspect of new local-global relationships is the growth of “localist movements,” efforts to reclaim economic and political sovereignty for metropolitan and other subnational regions. In Localist Movements in a Global Economy, David Hess offers an overview of localism in the United States and assesses its potential to address pressing global problems of social justice and environmental sustainability.
Urban sidewalks, critical but undervalued public spaces, have been sites for political demonstrations and urban greening, promenades for the wealthy and the well-dressed, and shelterless shelters for the homeless. On sidewalks, decade after decade, urbanites have socialized, paraded, and played, sold their wares, and observed city life. These many uses often overlap and conflict, and urban residents and planners try to include some and exclude others.
Remarkably, grassroots-based community planning flourishes in New York City—the self-proclaimed "real estate capital of the world"—with at least seventy community plans for different neighborhoods throughout the city. Most of these were developed during fierce struggles against gentrification, displacement, and environmental hazards, and most got little or no support from government. In fact, community-based plans in New York far outnumber the land-use plans produced by government agencies.