Urbanization and the environment


The United Nations (UN) articulates that approximately half of the entire population in the world now lives in urban areas. Due to urbanization, the number, the size, the kind and the compactness of cities, in addition to the effectiveness of their management of the environment are major concerns for attainment of the international sustainability.

The rural-urban migration, which the main explanation behind urbanization, is because of two major causes namely: the rural exclusion aspects (poverty, shortage of land and job chances) and the pleasant aspects of the city (job provisions and social amenities). All the same, there is a common view that urbanization has enormous effects on the environment.

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Soil and water pollution, the most conspicuous ones, arise because of the lack or insufficiency of management on industrial waste in addition to the insufficiency of control on chemical pollutants (Rimal 54-56). Other noteworthy impacts associated with urbanization are the decrease of the carrying capacity, viz. the size of urban land cannot sustain such a huge population size as compared to an equal land in rural areas due to a greater environmental pressure associated with urban population.

Moreover, urbanization has also a great impact on the food sector, because it takes up farming land with the growth of cities and decreases food supply since farmers progressively migrate to the cities. This research paper discusses urbanization with respect to a specific environment issues.

Ecosystem and Ecology

According to the Ecological Society of America (ESA) ecology signifies the study of the associations involving living beings, comprising humans, with the physical environment (Liu, Rendong, and Xuefeng 4-7). Consistent with the ecology discipline, physical environment denotes things like water, soil, and temperature just to mention a few. An ecosystem signifies a specific organizational level holding a varied set of living as well as non-living constituents that are self maintained.

The ecosystem is controlled by negative and positive feedback loops. Additionally, ecosystems are typified by energy flows and motility of substances on pathways. The species of both plants and animals make up the living constituents of the ecosystem while water, soil, temperature, and air are some of the non-living constituents onto which living constituents rely for continued existence.

The aforementioned natural constituents of ecosystems represent environmental resources from where a range of gains can be produced for human utilization. Ecosystems give services to all living beings. Environmental supplies of ecosystem in addition to their services to people are endless and valuable. A number of the basic resources to the natural equilibrium of the ecosystem and that could be affected by human infringement are biodiversity, water, and soil.

Effects of urbanization on ecosystem supplies

The association involving the urbanization and the environmental factors has been commonly examined from two diverse points of view. In a number of studies, urbanization is the core of research because it is an international progression.

This progression not only signifies a concentration of residents, but also a profound conversion of the rural areas, and their ensuing environmental significance (Haiying and Lian 141-145). In contrast, in a number of other studies, urbanization is perceived as a secondary subject, since there are no suitable general associations between urbanization, concentration of residents, and the environment.

The ecosystem services offer numerous of responsibilities and services that generate significance for human consumers and are vital to the maintenance of human development. Nevertheless, people have blotted out the subsistence and significance of ecosystem services with the intention of hurriedly celebrating urban illusion.

Research articulates the actuality of rising disengagement of people with nature as existing in two pervading worlds. One of these worlds is the natural world that has been falsified in a pot for a long time. The second world is the artificial world, the world constituted of cities and infrastructure, lands and artifacts that human beings have been designing over the past few years (Adachi et al. 1441-1443).

The development and success of the artificial world has appeared from the outlay of the supplies of the natural world. Designed jumble people have made their environs, cities, and ecosystems owing a lot to the deficiency of a consistent viewpoint, vision, and performance of plan that is stuck in a wealthy comprehension of ecology.

A big gap exists between the two different worlds. In a bid to fill this gap and connect people with nature, an environmental perspective is required in the planning process. Management, renewal, and stewardship policies could be employed into the land utilization planning as well as judgment making course.

Effects of urbanization on the soil

Soil has been illustrated as an intricate and active ecosystem that upholds physical practices and chemical changes fundamental to a terrestrial existence. Soil offers services to every kind of being that range array from micro-organism to animals and plants. Despite its biological or environmental services, the value of soil is extremely established in the organization of human development via cultural, religious conviction systems.

The significance of soil can be connected to the very continuation of human development as developments neither vanish overnight nor prefer to be unsuccessful. Normally, they weaken and then decrease as their soil wanes over years (Feng et al. 7187-7203). Soil is vital to the prolonged existence of any development (prehistoric or digital) and thus human beings ought to value soil like the living basis for material affluence and take care of it as an asset and a precious inheritance.

Nevertheless, the significance and worth of soil are undetected and not emphasized in the modern society as a result of their ease of use and a great quantity and most significantly since soils are at all times underfoot. As a result, soils have been utilized without regard to their loss or ruin that at all times carries with it noteworthy environmental and economic outlays.

Land utilization transformation propelled by urbanization has placed cities on soils best fitted for other applications like growing of food, forests and wetlands. Urbanization changes the natural, physical, and chemical aspects of soil and thus degrades its excellence in a manner that it brings about loss of plants, pitiable water infiltration, water wastage, soil erosion, and buildup of heavy metal. Soil excellence is frequently corrupted by soil erosion.

The strength of slopes (whether natural or non-natural) establishes the susceptibility of a slope collapse or a landslide. Violation of the city and vegetated lands for urbanization reasons and the development of constructed areas and road systems into steeper landscape weakening slopes bring about slope failures. For instance, landslides in the United States cause one to two billion dollars in destructions and over 25 deaths every year (Buczkowski, Douglas and Deborah 1-9).

Urbanization as well as recreational advancement into hillside regions places more human beings and possessions into the possibility of landslide dangers. in recent times, a section of Pacific Coast Highway, which is in a hilly landscape of California, was shut for approximately one week because of likely landslide and a Pierce County road in the United States was closed for fixation after a mudslide.

Effects of urbanization on water supplies

Water denotes the most essential natural supply that is renewable but limited. The supply of surface water is mainly rivers, lakes, wetlands, and streams. The water sources are in or neighboring to the land occupied by human beings. For that reason, land activities by the people affect water sources greatly.

The significance of water is not restricted to human utilization, but it is covers the operation of the entire universe. Water is a complete ecosystem (aquatic) that gives habitation for countless of identified and unidentified kinds of flora and fauna. Water cycles constantly flow into the environment and take care of the universe.

Population increase, rising tendency of urbanization, utilization of land, and climatic change have had a great impact on water accessibility and value in the United States in such a manner that the country’s water sources are progressively turning out to be limited.

In numerous sections of the nation, clashes over water supplies have already happened and the condition will worsen in the future. Water quality has considerably bettered in past few years because of the government directives and environmental fortification programs like the Clean Water Act (Andersen, Lasse, and Sten 595-611).

However, over a third of rivers and other sources of water in the United States are damaged or polluted and the majority of the aquatic ecosystems in conjunction with their biota have been reduced or eradicated because of non point resource pollution of water as a result of urbanization.

Effects of urbanization on biodiversity

In general, biodiversity signifies the wealth of animal and plant types that are indigenous to a given habitat or environment. Every species in an ecosystem provides particular role via life cycle and food chain. An alteration in species variety changes the biogeochemical sequences and has an impact on the general operation of the system. Therefore, the sustainability, operation, and constancy of ecosystems rely on biodiversity (Johnson et al. 34-36).

Urbanization changes habitat in the course of construction of houses, roads, and cutting down of vegetation just to mention a few. Residential improvement connected with expansion of infrastructure and utilities creates a threat to the natural world through loss, deprivation, and disintegration of habitat.

Habitat variation as a result of urbanization is so harsh and prevalent that it brings about the jeopardy and loss of species together with a long-term loss of habitat. Despite decreasing the affluence of indigenous species, urbanization augments the domination of non-indigenous species in a habitat thus bringing about biological homogenization.

General environmental effects of urbanization

Urban residents interrelate with their environment and change the environment in the course of their utilization of food, water, soil, and energy.

Consequently, the contaminated urban environment has grievous impacts on the health and excellence of existence of the urban population. Human beings residing in urban dwellings have “very diverse patterns of consumption when compared to dwellers of rural areas; for instance, urban residents use more foodstuff, durable goods, and energy when judged against rural populations” (Li et al. 129).

The urban residents in China eat over two times as much pork like the rural residents who were keeping the pigs. Urban residents not only eat more foodstuffs, but they as well eat more durable and expensive goods. The expensive consumption in cities is attributable to deprived environments where farming is not practiced that make the purchase of commodities expensive.

The use of energy as a result of urbanization helps in forming heat islands that are capable of altering local climatic patterns and climate downwind. The formed heat islands occurrence is produced since urban areas give out heat back into the environment at a pace 15% to 30% less as compared to rural areas.

The mixture of the raised energy expenditure and variation in radiation signifies that urban areas are warmer (Li et al. 131-133). The formed heat islands turn out to be snares for ecological contaminants. For example, murkiness and fog crop up with a higher incidence. To prove this, it has been witnessed in the United States that rainfall is 5% to 10% greater in urban areas, but the occurrence of snow in urban areas is less frequent.

The occurrence of heat islands as a result of urbanization has turned into an increasing concern. Occurrence of this trend in addition to concern regarding it has grown over the years. A heat island occurs as a result of industrial and urban regions increasing and ensuing in bigger production and withholding of heat. A huge quantity of solar energy that has the effect on rural regions is used in vaporizing water from plants and soil.

In urban areas, where vegetation in addition to uncovered soil is very minimal, most of solar energy is taken up by urban constructions and mineral pitch (Johnson et al. 37-39). Consequently, less cooling in urban areas brings about greater surface heat as compared to rural regions. Automobiles and factories discharge further heat in the urban atmosphere.

Additionally, urbanization has a great impact on the wider urban environments. Regions Urbanization normally creates more rain, but decreases the percolation of water and impoverishes the groundwater levels. In this regard, runoff happens more hurriedly with higher climax flows, and flood volumes rise. Water contamination increases and moves downstream (Johnson et al. 40-42).

The majority of the impacts of urbanization on the environment are not essentially one-dimensional. Larger urban regions do not at all times produce more environmental difficulties and small urban regions could stimulate greater troubles. a great deal of what establishes the degree of the environmental effects is the way urban residents conduct themselves, their eating and living practices and not merely how big they are.

Solid waste

Management of solid waste signifies appropriate collection, transportation, recycling as well as dumping of solid wastes. In most cities in the world, solid waste dumping is ineffective or non-offered. Solid wastes like those from hospitals and industries are more challenging than domestic wastes as they frequently includes dangerous and poisonous chemicals, in addition to bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms.

The chemicals present in the solid waste require special concern when shifting, storing, transporting and discarding them. When these chemicals are let to go into water sources, they can pollute the entire water cycle and have unpleasant effects. Some solid wastes are illegally dumped at open spaces, near residential houses and at times find their way to rivers (Rimal 57-60).

Occasionally they are accumulated to set land sites though the safeguarding of water sources and groundwater is not effective. When solid wastes are dumped in the open or in set disposal sites, horrifying environmental troubles come up. With the falling of the rain, most of the solid waste is carried into water resources.

Additionally, the solid waste could bring about the contamination of ground together with surface waters as a consequence of leaching. Solid wastes could at times be utilized for landfill although decayed solid waste can equally contaminate groundwater by way of seepage, mainly in moist tropics.

Seepage of the waste into water bodies can have vast health effects in developing nations where the application of water in wells for drinking is widespread. Moreover, the waste burning (incineration) causes yet a different environmental danger. People desire disposing of the solid wastes and do so by burning them in the open.

Since urbanization causes people to live close together in residential houses, the gases produced by the burning waste are directly inhaled. These gases could give rise to various respiratory illnesses. Uncollected solid waste as well ruins the environmental outlook of cities.

The environment in the urban areas is a significant aspect in shaping the excellence of life in cities and the effect of urbanization on the wider environment. A number of environmental setbacks in urban areas that comprise of insufficient water and sanitation, inefficient waste disposal, and industrial contamination are known to cause serious health problems. Unluckily, decreasing the problems and improving their impacts on the urban residents are costly (Rimal 61-65).

Apart from the aforementioned respiratory illnesses, other health effects of environmental troubles comprise contagious and parasitic sicknesses. Capital outlays for constructing better environmental infrastructure, for instance, establishing hygienic public transportation networks like passageway, and constructing additional hospitals are more in urban areas, where costs surpass those offered in rural areas.

Moreover, land prices in cities are higher owing to the contest for space as a result of urbanization. Finally, not every city has the types of environmental situations or health troubles as others. Some studies affirm that pointers of health troubles, like rates of infant mortality, are common in urban areas that are developing quickly than in the ones where development is slower.


Urbanization signifies the physical development of urban areas as a consequence of rural migration in addition to population rise in cities.

Research has found that approximately half of the total population in the world currently lives in urban areas. Despite everything, there is a general view that urbanization has huge effects on the environment. Soil, biodiversity, solid waste, and water pollution, the most conspicuous environment effects, arise as a consequence of the lack or insufficiency of management on industrial waste in addition to the insufficiency of control on chemical pollutants.

The use of energy as a result of urbanization causes the formation of heat islands that are capable of varying local climatic patterns (Adachi et al. 1445-1454). When solid wastes are deposited in the open or in set disposal sites, horrifying environmental troubles crop up. With the onset of rainfall, most of the solid waste is carried into water resources. Smaller urban areas are generally found to have more environmental problems than big cities.

Works Cited

Adachi, Sachiho, Fujio Kimura, Hiroyuki Kusaka, Tomoshige Inoue, and Hiroaki Ueda. “Comparison of the Impact of Global Climate Changes and Urbanization on Summertime Future Climate in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.” Journal of Applied Meteorology & Climatology 51.8 (2012): 1441-1454. Print.

Andersen, Hans, Jensen Lasse, and Engelstoft Sten. “The End of Urbanization? Towards a New Urban Concept or Rethinking Urbanization.” European Planning Studies 19. 4 (2011): 595-611. Print.

Buczkowski, Grzegorz, Richmond Douglas, and Gordon Deborah. “The Effect of Urbanization on Ant Abundance and Diversity: A Temporal Examination of Factors Affecting Biodiversity.” PLoS ONE 7.8 (2012): 1-9. Print.

Feng, Jin-Ming, Yong-Li Wang, Zhu-Guo Ma, and Yong-He Liu. “Simulating the Regional Impacts of Urbanization and Anthropogenic Heat Release on Climate across China.” Journal of Climate 25.20 (2012): 7187-7203. Print.

Haiying, Ma, and Lina Lian. “Rural-urban Migration and Urbanization in Gansu Province, China: Evidence from Time-series Analysis.”Asian Social Science 7.12 (2011): 141-145. Print.

Johnson, Pieter, Jason Hoverman, Valerie McKenzie, Andrew Blaustein, Katherine Richgels, and Marc Cadotte. “Urbanization and wetland communities: applying metacommunity theory to understand the local and landscape effects.” Journal of Applied Ecology 50.1 (2013): 34-42. Print.

Li, Yangfan, Yan Zhou Li, Yalou Shi, and Xiaodong Zhu. “Investigation of a coupling model of coordination between urbanization and the environment.” Journal of Environmental Management 98.1 (2012) 127-133. Print.

Liu, Yaobin, Li Rendong, and Song Xuefeng. “Grey Associative Analysis of Regional Urbanization and Eco-environment coupling in China [J].” Acta Geographica Sinica 2.1 (2005): 4-7. Print.

Rimal, Bhagawat. “Urbanization and the Decline of Agricultural Land in Pokhara Sub-metropolitan City, Nepal.” Journal of Agricultural Science 5.1 (2013): 54-65. Print.


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