Cities and sustainability final: New York City
Cities and sustainability final: New York City
With the emergence of industrialization in the early 19th century saw the migration from an agrarian society to one that is dominated by machines and characterized by mass production. Industrialization has been vital to the improved quality of life across the globe. The onset of industrialization led to the emergence of industries, the growth of cities, buildings, and population in urban centers. However, it has also come with significant side environmental effects, and hence, raising the question of environmental sustainability. New York City is one of the products of the 21st century’s industrialization. The design of the city, its built environment, the placement of factories and manufacturing industries, and roads have major impacts on the sustainability of the city. In addition to this, the high population density and economic activities contribute to the production of a lot of waste products (540, 000 tons per day), the majority of which are not managed properly, and hence, pollution in the city (Sylvan, D. (20093). As an individual, I am deeply concerned about the survival of dwellers of New York City as a result of the pollution. The pollution of the city kills plants and other aquatic life in the major water bodies within the city of New York (Bloomberg, 2013). This puts the sustainability of New York City environment at stake. This paper is going to propose and discuss an effective strategy for enhancing and ensuring sustainability of New York City. In line with these aspects, this essay is going to examine the issue of sustainability in New York City by discussing important elements such as what is sustainability, the different levels of sustainability, overview of how sustainability is governed in New York City. In addition, this paper is going to discuss my vision for NYC by discussing some of the specific changes that can be made to ensure the sustainability of New York City.
What is sustainability?
What sustainability means to me
To me, sustainability is mainly associated with the environment, and therefore, it refers to the making of the preservation of the environment to ensure that it supports the various forms of life. Sustainability is achieved by preventing environmental (land, air, and water) pollution. This includes appropriate management of industrial and domestic waste materials, prevention of voluminous emission of Green House Gasses (GHG) into the atmosphere, and prevention of the depletion of natural resources. Sustainability is also achieved by the designing of effective infrastructures such as houses and roads, and the prevention of overpopulation in cities. In summary, Sustainability to me means making the environment safe, productive, and long-lasting.
I believe that the concept of sustainability is very useful. As already mentioned in the introduction, industrialization threatens the survival of globe. The extraction of the resources for industrial use has led to the depletion of natural resources. The emission of GHG gasses has caused global warming resulting to adverse weather patterns such as floods, storm surge, and drought that are a threat to all living things (Strohbacha, Arnoldc, & Haase, 2012). Therefore, sustainability is important because it helps in the prevention of these adverse effects of industrialization. Some examples of sustainability in day to day life is the consumption of renewable sources of energy such as solar and the wind, recycling of waste products, and the prevention of the emission of GHG gasses into the atmosphere.
Various definition of sustainability
The concept of sustainability was deduced from the United Nations world commission on environment and development better known as the Brundtland report, which depicts sustainability as the development that caters for the needs of the present and at the same time keeping in mind the welfare of the generations to come (Kuhlman & Farrington, 2010). The report stated that to attain sustainability we need to balance economic, social and environment factors in perfect harmony, to avoid the depletion of the already scares natural resources and reduce environmental pollution.
According to Klingmann architects and brand consultants (2010), a holistic approach to sustainability is made of four pillars namely; social, cultural, environment and economic for all round stability of the community, and the long-term arrangements for a satisfactory sustainable living and diverse environment. For a sustainable life, the aspect of the people’s social life must be satisfactory, and the cultural values of the people ought to be preserved. The economic and the environmental aspects are the most critical pillars of sustainability. For sustainability, the prevailing economic conditions must be able to meet the needs of the population in a sufficient manner. There should be available employment and minimal poverty rates. On the same note, the environment should be free from any form of pollution or destruction (Strohbacha, Arnoldc, & Haase, 2012).
Ecological modernization vs. sustainable development
Ecological modernization (EM) and sustainable development (SD) are currently the most dominant environmental protection paradigms. According to (Sezgin, 2012), SD refers to the developmental practices that are aimed at meeting the present and future needs, whereas EM refers to the use of preventative innovations in the systems of production to ensure both environmental and economic benefits.
Based on their definitions, it is apparent that these two paradigms take two different perspectives in ensuring sustainability, and as a result, there are significant differences in these two methods of ensuring environmental sustainability (Sezgin, 2012). Firstly, relies on the use of innovative technologies to ensure sustainability while SD takes into consideration both the present and the future needs. Secondly, EM does not involve public participation and relies only on the use of technology to achieve sustainability, and this makes it less effective. On the other hand, SD includes public participation, and this enhances effective decision making on matters of sustainability. Therefore, SD is more effective than EM in the achievement of sustainability.
Different levels of New York City sustainability
Currently, there are various levels of at which sustainability is executed in NYC, for example, personal, community, and city level (Bloomberg, 2013). The individuals at these different level play a significant role in ensuring a sustainable NYC. At a personal level, I embrace practices that promote sustainability. As an individual, some of the actions that I engage in to promote sustainability in NYC is the responsible disposal of my domestic waste products. This reduces land and water pollution in the city. As an individual, I have planted five trees in my compound to facilitate fresh environment. In addition to these, I promote sustainability by saving energy and water (Barthel & Isendahl, 2013). I use energy conserving bulbs and do not leave my refrigerator on unnecessarily.
Efforts of sustainability are also demonstrated at the community level in the NYC. There are different communities in New York City, for example, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. In these communities, a lot of sustainability practices are carried out by volunteers and companies to ensure that the communities are sustainable. For example, in Manhattan, there are environmental programs where volunteers from the community participate in environmental sustainability promotion programs such as tree planting, building garden beds, cleaning of the streets, and the removal of the invasive species (New York Cares, 2016).
Major sustainability practices are also witnessed in the city of New York. The administration of the NYC has embraced sustainable practices. For example, supplying the city dwellers with renewable energy sources of energy such as solar and wind energy (Bloomberg, 2013). The administration of NYC also engages in the collection of waste materials from the dwellers of the city and taking them to the appropriate places for disposal or recycling. The city supplies clean water to its residents, and it encourages the dwellers to utilize energy conservation strategies. There are rules and regulation that bar companies from irresponsible disposal of waste products in public space. There are also rule and regulation that bar the irresponsible emission of harmful GHG gasses into the atmosphere.
Overview of how sustainability is governed in New York City
The city of New York is faced with sustainability challenges; however, the government of the city is implementing significant efforts to ensure sustainability within the city. According to the Sylvan solid waste management in New York City has evolved substantially from the traditional ocean and street dumping to current solid waste management system involving transportation of waste material via trucks from the city to its outcast’s landfills (BioCNG, 2013). The current system causes air pollution and traffic jams within the city due to numerous numbers of trucks ferrying waste materials (Bloomberg, 2011). Currently, there is a policy that requires all industrial manufacturers and businesses to engage in a mandatory recycling of their waste products should be introduced and implemented.
There are policies that bar businesses from the careless dumping of waste material into land and other water bodies should be implemented. This should also include also barring the emission of Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere to prevent the depletion of the ozone layer (BioCNG, 2013).
The city dwellers are also supplied with renewable energy sources of energy such as solar and wind energy. The administration of NYC also engages in the collection of waste materials from the dwellers of the city and taking them to the appropriate places for disposal or recycling (NYC Department of sanitation, 2015). The city supplies clean water to its residents, and it encourages the dwellers to utilize energy conservation strategies. There are rules and regulation that bar companies from an irresponsible disposal of waste products in public space. There are also rule and regulation that bar the irresponsible emission of harmful GHG gasses into the atmosphere.
Specific changes to NYC
According to Bloomberg (2011), NYC has been experiencing an increasing population, changing the climate and aging infrastructure. This has been a major threat to the sustainability of the city, and as a result, the mayor of New York City developed PlanNYC to meet these challenges and ensure a sustainable city. Despite the implementation of PlanNYC, NYC is still faced with sustainability issues and to effectively solve them; the following changes should be made in New York City.
I have a vision that NYC should have a sustainable solid waste management. It is my vision that the city should find ways of reducing the number of truck ferrying waste materials to the landfills by investing in the expansion of the already existing rail network which will ease traffic congestion, air, and noise pollution substantially (Strohbacha, Arnoldc, & Haase, 2012). To achieve my vision, NYC should incorporate waste reduction practices such as encouraging manufactures to manufacture products that are more suitable, durable, re-usable and easily recyclable. The city should also invest in recycling plants to recycle waste materials making it useful in various ways such a packaging and manufacture of substitute raw material for the production of other products to minimize the environmental pollution (Gunther, Larson, & Watt, 2010). Organic waste materials can be digested to produce organic gas which is both affordable and environmental friendly; the non-recyclable waste materials should be incinerated to produce electricity.
My vision is for New York City to attain sustainable food system. To achieve this vision the administration of NYC should review the process of food production, supply, and consumption, as well as waste management (Foster + Partners Ltd., 2008). This includes the use of bio-degradable reusable and easily recyclable materials during packaging so as to minimize accumulation of waste (Strohbacha, Arnoldc, & Haase, 2012). We all know that most of the land is not suitable for agricultural practices which compel us to come up with methods of irrigation that will help increase food production while sensitizing the locals on the benefits of production and consumption fresh foods from their small scale farms.
My vision is to see NYC have sustainable energy to meet the present and future needs. It is paramount that more renewable energy sources should be developed to help reduce the dependence of the traditional forms of energy that are considered unclean, non-renewable and a threat the ecosystem (Bloomberg, 2011). These include encouraging residents and factories to use renewable, clean and substantially cheap forms of energy such as solar panels which convert sunlight into electricity. Finding ways of increasing manufacturing electric-powered locomotives and encourage manufacturers and consumers on the use of energy efficient equipment both at home and in industries.
It is my vision that NYC will implement the circular model of sustainability 100%. In this regard, I propose that the city should implement the circular model of sustainability is very effective because it will offer solutions to most of the threats facing NYC (Gunther, Larson, & Watt, 2010). Firstly, this model is environmentally friendly because it will reduce the volume of waste materials that are produced by the numerous commercial businesses and industrial manufacturers through activities such as recycling and re-use of wastes, and hence, little or reduced waste materials will be deposed in NYC (Bloomberg, 2011). Secondly, the circular model will also ensure environmental sustainability by facilitating effective use of the raw materials needed for the production of goods, and this will prevent the depletion of natural resources that is already in limited supply across the globe. In this regard, the circular model of sustainability will not only benefit NYC area, but also its neighboring regions, which will also find it appropriate to implement it.
In summary, NYC is faced with a lot of sustainability challenges; however, the government of the city has implemented effective strategies to ensure that NYC is ranked among the most sustainable cities in the world. Currently there a various levels of at which sustainability is executed in NYC, for example, personal, community, and city level. There are different communities in New York City where a lot of sustainability practices are carried out by volunteers and companies to ensure that the communities are sustainable. Major sustainability practices are also witnessed in the city of New York. The administration of the NYC has embraced sustainable practices. For example, supplying the city dwellers with renewable energy sources of energy such as solar and wind energy. New York City has evolved substantially from the traditional ocean and street dumping to current solid waste management system involving transportation of waste material via trucks from the city to its outcast’s landfills. The current system causes air pollution and traffic jams within the city due to numerous numbers of trucks ferrying waste materials. Circular model of sustainability is very effective because it will offer solutions to most of the threats facing NYC. It is environmental friendly because it will reduce the volume of waste materials that are produced by the numerous commercial businesses and industrial manufacturers through activities such as recycling and re-use of wastes, and hence, little or reduced waste materials will be deposed in NYC.
Barthel, S. & Isendahl, C. (2013). Urban gardens, agriculture, and water management: Sources of resilience for long-term food security in cities. Ecological Economics 86, 224–234.
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