Sunday, 23 May 2010

To what extent do you believe modern cities are unsustainable?

 The majority of factories, business centers and educational buildings are in the cities where the large number of people usually commute from rural areas for different purposes; therefore the cities could be overcrowded and polluted. However, although cities bring some problems, if they manage pollution and crowding well, they can be sustainable. This essay will argue that sustainable cities need to control air pollution by limiting vehicle driving days, and local tree planting, and also need to control water use and pollution. The governments, non-governmental societies and local people are responsible to solve the problems.

The major problem the people in cities face is, of course, air pollution which troubles the environment and local residents as well. For example, Mexico city is one of the air polluted cities which is situated 2000 metres above sea level. Due to the high location, it is very difficult to obtain the natural air consisted of oxygen. Therefore, the cars have to be running with richer fuel and most vehicles use the leaded petrol. (National Geographic website, 2004). It makes the city more unsustainable. There is still in need of effective solution.

Moreover, Sao Paulo is notorious for its foul air which killed thousands of people and Santiago suffers from terminal diseases on account of air pollution. (The Economist, March 27, 2006). It is a great issue for the government concerned. In addition, while a Dutch city issues 10 tons of carbon dioxide a day, a Canadian city does 20 tons of it. (Graham Haughton, 1998). Such an amount of carbon dioxide is too strong for the people in order for their health to be sustained. As a result, several types of diseases occur to the city-people, such as asthma, lung cancer and heart attacks. (The Economist, March 27, 2006).

However, the governments have commenced to take action for the major issue of air pollution respectively though it is very difficult to manage. For example, Mexico’s government challenges the situation by stopping industries, reducing power plants and controlling vehicles occasionally. (Ibid, 2006). Sao Paulo’s government also started to reduce the carbon monoxide in order to save the lives of people. (Ibid, 2006). In the same way, Santiago’s government legislates the right of pollution for the purpose of decreasing the carbon monoxide. (Ibid, 2006). The above governments prescribed a new law, such as non-driving day; non-driving at peak hour and driving with catalytic converters.  Furthermore, instead of vehicles, bicycles, riskshaws and hand-pushed carts are being used in some of the Asian countries, such as Shanghai in China and Jakata in Indonesia. (Finance and Development, vol, 29,  1992). All of these have been effective to some extent.

The other problem the city-people encountered is water contamination. The large number of people migrated from rural to urban area are significantly increasing. According to statistics, 15 percents of population are in the urban in 1900, but nowadays it has gone up to 50 percents. It is estimated that the urban population will probably rise up to 60 percents in 2025. (Girardet, 1996). As a result, the cities became crowded. Dirt, waste, garbage and food waste are thrown away by the people. In addition, some cities have no sewage system and sanitation system. Owing to these reasons, the water turns into polluted and contaminated. (Sachs, 1998).

Nevertheless, the governments might try to control the water pollution not to increase and manage to lessen it by distributing more pure water; starting sewage and sanitation system. Furthermore, some governments might have implemented the project of Greenland in cities by growing trees, creating gardens and parks within cities.

In conclusion, the big cities in developed countries have turned into compact cities. The power plants and vehicles can be reduced to some extent. The governments concerned also contribute to the needs of the people, including improving their health-situation. Cities are still unsustainable now, but if the governments function not to damage ecology for future generations and if city-residents try to make cities green instead of moving to rural green areas, the cities will be sustainable in near future.

-Finance and Development, vol. 29, no.3,  1992.
-Girardet, H. (1996) The Gaia Atlas of Cities, London: Gaia.
-Haughton, G. and Hunter. C, (1998) Sustainable Cities, Jessica Kingsley, London
   and Bristol: Penn.
-Sachs, W. (1998) Greening the North, , London: Zed Books.
-The economist, Print edition, March 27, 2006.


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