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Hardcover | $35.00 Short | £27.95 | 472 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 37 figures | May 2017 | ISBN: 9780262035910
eBook | $24.00 Short | May 2017 | ISBN: 9780262338851
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Global Cities

Urban Environments in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and China


Over the past four decades, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and key urban regions of China have emerged as global cities—in financial, political, cultural, environmental, and demographic terms. In this book, Robert Gottlieb and Simon Ng trace the global emergence of these urban areas and compare their responses to a set of six urban environmental issues.

These cities have different patterns of development: Los Angeles has been the quintessential horizontal city, the capital of sprawl; Hong Kong is dense and vertical; China’s new megacities in the Pearl River Delta, created by an explosion in industrial development and a vast migration from rural to urban areas, combine the vertical and the horizontal. All three have experienced major environmental changes in a relatively short period of time. Gottlieb and Ng document how each has dealt with challenges posed by ports and the movement of goods, air pollution (Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and urban China are all notorious for their hazardous air quality), water supply (all three places are dependent on massive transfers of water) and water quality, the food system (from seed to table), transportation, and public and private space. Finally they discuss the possibility of change brought about by policy initiatives and social movements.

About the Authors

Robert Gottlieb is Emeritus Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy and founder and former Director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. He is the author of Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City (MIT Press) and other books.

Simon Ng is an independent consultant and former Chief Research Officer at Civic Exchange, a public policy think tank in Hong Kong.


“Hong Kong and Los Angeles cannot be more different. The former is an example of extreme density living while the latter is one of urban sprawl. However, they can learn much from each other. This useful book provides histories, contexts, and solutions for cities and regions to make more sustainable choices—an urgent task for all as the world faces challenges in improving livability and fighting climate change.”
Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment, HKSAR Government (2012-2017)

Global Cities is a richly detailed exploration of the ways environmental policy and urban planning often fail (with occasional exceptions) to work together, to the detriment of cities and the people who live in them. It is a unique and valuable reference for any serious lover of urban history, as well as a likely textbook for environmental planners.”
Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board

“The book’s strength is the story it tells, weaving arguments about two great cities with different regulations and practices.”
Peter Brimblecombe, Associate Dean and Chair Professor of Environmental Chemistry, City University of Hong Kong; author of The Big Smoke