Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss

March 21st, 2013 – Seminar 7

Group Members:
Caila Svenson, Caroline Grimes, Jane Hilder, Jesse Ghashti, Jessica Suter, Julieta Cohen, Marla Bigelow, Nichelle Facey

Reading:
Grimm, Nancy, Stanley Faeth, Nancy Golubieweski, Charles Redman, Jianguo Wu, Xuemei Bai, and John Briggs. “Global Change and the Ecology of Cities.”AAAS: New York, 2008, Science 319.

Summary:
The article focuses on the shifts and changes that occur when Urbanization occurs. It essentially changes the entire landscape and alters environmental balances in multiple ways. There is always a demand for materials as urbanization consumes large amounts of resources. In turn it modifies land use and cover, biodiversity, the hydrosystems locally to the region, and creates a large amount of urban waste, all of which effects the environmental region and in turn climate change.
Currently studies focus on the natural and social drivers that persuade these changes but ultimately it comes down to the cities themselves that are responsible for the damage and the solutions to these growing issues.

Reading:
McDonald, Robert, Pamela Green, Deborah Balk, Balazs Fekete, Carmen Revenga, Megan Todd, and Mark Montgomery. “Urban Growth, climate change, and freshwater availability.” PNAS: New York, 2011 Vol.108, No.15.

Summary:
The article focuses on current issues that deal with water shortage and how they are to be magnified in the future with urban growth being the catalyst to the problem. Urban population has a direct correlation with climate change, and further, the availability of freshwater to the individual. Its projected that by 2050, there will be an additional 3 billion urban residence which will only speed up climate change, and diminish the availability of freshwater. As urban growth grows the fastest and the largest out of the three variables, the other two are effected at the same rate. As a result, 1 billion people will have less then 100L of water per person per day of sustainable surface and groundwater available to them within their urban context. Climate change will increase this amount to an additional 100 million. Freshwater ecosystems close to urbanization will experience insufficient water supplies that are necessary for maintaining and preserving ecological process. In turn, the lack of freshwater will come to effect the residence directly as there will simply not be enough and as seen in Western Ghats, it effects their food supply as they are already experiencing a shortage in fishing production.

Proposed Discussion:

Do you think if urban centers were dispersed across land, the impact we have upon the earth would be reduced?

Which factor is expected to have a more certain effect on water shortage:

urban growth or climate change?

Personal Reflection Generated from Group Discussion:
I think if urban centers were dispersed across the land, that only adheres to our over-arching problem. The fact that urban situation continue to expand as opposed to grow in density is a major reason why we are substituting agricultural land for concrete. This in turn supports the notion of climate change and an increase in pollutants. I don’t think that by dispersing urban center is an option that should even be considered.
Approaching the second question, I think that urban growth is the catalyst for water shortage. Urban growth essentially establishes climate change and with that being said, I think it’s the key reason why water supplies will diminish. With that being said, climate change is a resultant of urban growth, and as urban growth may deplete water supplies, climate change will do.

Photo 1:
Our Water Supplies will continue to diminish if we continue down our current path.
Earthworks Action. DSC_0145. Photograph. Fickr. March 21st, 2011.

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