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Do you think that cities can ever become sustainable?

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Introduction

Do you think that cities can ever become sustainable? In relation to cities, sustainability refers to development that lets the people living now get the things they need but without reducing the ability of people in the future to get what they need i.e. growth in a way that doesn't irreversibly damage the environment or use up resources faster than can be replaced. For example, an urban area that is growing by generating all its power from finite sources will exhaust its supply and could accelerate climate change. Megacities require so many resources that it is unlikely they will ever develop in a truly sustainable way, but there are things that can be done to make them develop in a way that is more sustainable. In order for urban areas to become more sustainable the key issues that need to be tackled are overcrowding, transport problems, crime and pollution. Exploring sustainability projects at different points along the urbanisation pathway in cities such as Shanghai (LEDC), Putrajaya (NIC), Chattanooga and London (MEDC) will give an insight as to whether city sustainability is more likely to be achieved in MEDCs or LEDCs. Whilst MEDCs may have the necessary resources and technology to make an impact on becoming more sustainable, their starting point is a much bigger ecological footprint. Therefore, there may be more potential in LEDCs becoming sustainable as they have a more appropriate use of intermediate technology. ...read more.

Middle

Malaysia has become one of the many countries that have deliberately created a new capital city. In 1995 it was decided that the national government function should be moved from Kuala Lumpur, which remains the country's financial and commercial centre, to a greenfield site 25km south of the city. Putrajaya has a population of 67 964, and is located within a high tech zone 15km wide and 50km long known as the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), Malaysia's 'silicone valley' stretching southwards from the centre of KL and includes KL international airport, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya (a 'smart' city specialising in education, research and high tech business). The spine of the MSC is an electronic superhighway (fibre optic network) that provides high speed computer links. A large lake is being created, surrounding an artificial island, which will play an important role in flood and pollution control, an environmental benefit, as well as providing recreational and aesthetic value. 40% of the 500 hectare site will be left as green space in an attempt to counteract any greenhouse gases emitted. The main five precincts will be situated in the core and will contain offices, banks, shopping centres and sports complexes. The peripheral area will contain residential neighbourhoods with housing for all incomes, with community centres, parks, places of worship, schools, hospitals and other amenities. There will only be a small amount of housing available for those on low incomes which means there will be a degree of exclusion as the city will be mostly enjoyed by the affluent. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is claimed to be the electric bus capital of the world, with the city manufacturing 22 seater buses that are marketed all over the world. Over 3000 inner city housing units have been renovated, and a zero emissions eco industrial park and a grass roofed convention centre have also been constructed. The sustainability of the city has been enhanced especially in terms of outputs. The environment has benefited greatly from the substantially reduced industrial and vehicle emissions as well as increased green space leading to a decrease in the ecological footprint. Residents have benefited from renovations of the housing and the downtown are. I believe that whilst these urban areas and many others are attempting to become more sustainable, there is still much more that can be done to improve sustainability. For example, housing can be built to be carbon neutral by using solar panels and insulation to reduce the ecological footprint. Public transport could be improved further to produce little or no harmful gases, such as London buses which run on Hydrogen. Renewable energy sources should be used more such as LA uses HEP from Hoover Dam, and whilst renewable energy sources will never generate enough power to support large cities, they should definitely be used more by cities that have large ecological footprints. I feel that as we are so dependent on technology in today's society, cities will never truly become sustainable. ...read more.

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