Why Urban Environmentalism Is So Important
What Is Urban Environmentalism?
Urban environmentalism, also known as urban ecology, is the study of how various species in a densely-populated city or town interact with one another and influence the health of the ecosystem as a whole. Ecologies in city environments work very differently from rural and even suburban ecologies. Once ecologists (and the organizations who follow their recommendations) identify the factors that make a city healthier or less healthy, they can act on those for the good of all local living things.
Some major unhealthy aspects of an urban environment include intensive water and air pollution, excessive dust, poorly stored or processed litter and waste, high local temperatures, and the depletion of natural resources. As a result, ecologically-centered nonprofits and similarly aligned organizations often facilitate events that involve land and water cleanups, tree and greenery planting, public education, and the removal of harmful invasive species.
Why Urban Environmentalism Matters
Advances in the ways and rate at which humans consume or destroy natural resources has been negatively impacting the environment since before (but especially during and after) the Industrial Revolution. Because cities have higher human populations, failure to prevent or repair the damage they inflict will result in grave detriment to the quality of life in their ecosystems and beyond. Here are some other driving factors in why caring for urban ecologies is so essential:
- Urban areas are major contributors to climate change because they generate the greatest amount (as much as 75%) of greenhouse gas emissions. This occurs because of the higher concentration of fossil fuel usage in cities.
- The exponentially higher rate of energy consumption and fossil fuel usage in cities can create “heat islands” that trap air pollutants. Heat islands can also change local weather and water runoff patterns, lower water tables, and accelerate the effects of climate change.
- Nearly all world population growth will occur in towns and cities over the next 30 years, with the highest urban growth rate predicted to happen in North America.
- The number of megacities (cities with a population of more than 10 million people) increased dramatically during the 20th century and will continue to do so.
- Human behavior, not community size, is what makes urban environments unhealthy locally, regionally, and globally. Using clean and sustainable methods in the way cities are planned, built, fueled, maintained, and expanded can dramatically reduce the harmful effects that urban areas have on the environment.
Make Boston Cleaner and Healthier With Boston Volunteer
Boston Volunteer works to make Boston and Massachusetts cleaner, safer, and better for everyone. We organize volunteer events and fundraisers that fill various local needs, from making education more equitable to improving the health and vitality of our environment. We partner with other nonprofit organizations and mobilize volunteers to ensure that all of our fellow Bostonians have the opportunities they need to succeed.