Urbanization can be a problem for the environment in terms of pollution mainly. With so many people in one area, the waste produced is enormous. Cement production is one of the single biggest producers of carbon emissions and cities are built with the stuff. The transportation of goods from around the world to a city also produces CO2 pollution. Other forms of waste contaminate bodies of water. Even Lake Michigan has closed its beaches due to overpollution in the past.
However, cities are an efficient use of land. Urban sprawl is the real problem. With people moving from cities to suburbs and from suburbs to rural with the purpose of ‘upgrading’ their lives, they use increasingly large plots of land for less and less. This destroys natural habitats and in the process the global ecosystem.
Energy consumption is much higher in urban areas, with more people consuming electricity, heating, transportation, etc. Transportation especially has a harmful effect on the environment, with an average household having at least two cars. The high consumption of heat also has a direct affect on the environment, as it creates “heat islands” that can actually change the weather patterns, making certain urban areas warmer. These heat islands can become traps for pollutants, creating more frequent cases of fog.
Urbanization also increases the likelihood of flash floods by decreasing surface permeability. When impermeable surfaces like roads, parking lots, and buildings cover areas that would have been more permeable, then that area loses much of its ability to soak up water. This means that in the event of heavy rains, it is more likely for streams to over flow and with more severity because more water is running into streams and less into the ground.
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