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Environment and Urban Studies

Environment and Urban Studies

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The word “sustainability” has been connected to everything from a certain kind of economic development to corporate promises about improved supply sourcing. But despite the apparent ubiquity of the term, the concept of sustainability has come to mean a number of specific things. In this accessible guide to the meanings of sustainability, Kent Portney describes the evolution of the idea and examines its application in a variety of contemporary contexts—from economic growth and consumption to government policy and urban planning.

From Theory to Planning Applications

Cities and regions grow (or occasionally decline), and continuously transform themselves as they do so. This book describes the theory and practice of modeling the spatial dynamics of urban growth and transformation. As cities are complex, adaptive, self-organizing systems, the most appropriate modeling framework is one based on the theory of self-organizing systems—an approach already used in such fields as physics and ecology. The book presents a series of models, most of them developed using cellular automata (CA), which are inherently spatial and computationally efficient.

The New Global Politics of Climate Change and the Remaking of Environmental Inequality

After nearly a quarter century of international negotiations on climate change, we stand at a crossroads. A new set of agreements is likely to fail to prevent the global climate’s destabilization. Islands and coastlines face inundation, and widespread drought, flooding, and famine are expected to worsen in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. How did we arrive at an entirely inequitable and scientifically inadequate international response to climate change?

The Social and Material Life of Bottled Water

How did branded bottles of water insinuate themselves into our daily lives? Why did water become an economic good—no longer a common resource but a commercial product, in industry parlance a “fast moving consumer good,” or FMCG? Plastic Water examines the processes behind this transformation. It goes beyond the usual political and environmental critiques of bottled water to investigate its multiplicity, examining a bottle of water’s simultaneous existence as, among other things, a product, personal health resource, object of boycotts, and part of accumulating waste matter.

The Struggle to Shape and Control the Electric Power Industry

For more than a century, the interplay between private, investor-owned electric utilities and government regulators has shaped the electric power industry in the United States. Provision of an essential service to largely dependent consumers invited government oversight and ever more sophisticated market intervention. The industry has sought to manage, co-opt, and profit from government regulation. In The Power Brokers, Jeremiah Lambert maps this complex interaction from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century

This book provides a long-overdue vision for a new automobile era. The cars we drive today follow the same underlying design principles as the Model Ts of a hundred years ago and the tail-finned sedans of fifty years ago. In the twenty-first century, cars are still made for twentieth-century purposes. They are inefficient for providing personal mobility within cities—where most of the world’s people now live.

A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability

McDonald’s promises to use only beef, coffee, fish, chicken, and cooking oil obtained from sustainable sources. Coca-Cola promises to achieve water neutrality. Unilever seeks to achieve 100 percent sustainable agricultural sourcing by 2020. Walmart has pledged to become carbon neutral. Big-brand companies seem to be making commitments that go beyond the usual “greenwashing” efforts undertaken largely for public-relations purposes.

Economists argue that such market-based policy instruments as environmental taxes and emission trading systems are the best way to target the negative effects of pollution. Yet there is no agreement about whether the use of these instruments is sufficient, whether they are deployed efficiently, and which factors influence their effectiveness. Nor is it clear if such policies have had any significant effect on the urgent matter of climate change mitigation.

What We Have Taken from Nature

The biosphere—the Earth’s thin layer of life—dates from nearly four billion years ago, when the first simple organisms appeared. Many species have exerted enormous influence on the biosphere’s character and productivity, but none has transformed the Earth in so many ways and on such a scale as Homo sapiens. In Harvesting the Biosphere, Vaclav Smil offers an interdisciplinary and quantitative account of human claims on the biosphere’s stores of living matter, from prehistory to the present day.

Policies toward China and India

The European Union has long portrayed itself as an international leader on climate change. In this book, the first systematic assessment of Europe’s claim to climate leadership, Diarmuid Torney analyzes the EU’s engagement with China and India on climate policies from 1990 to the present.

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