Can Urbanization Provide Solutions for Climate Change?

Evelyn Long

Aug 22, 2022

climate change

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Cities resemble growth and development. In fact, 83% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. However, these locations can influence climate change. In cities, industrial companies produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Although, these areas can also help provide solutions to climate change through urbanization. 

Increasing Public Transportation and Designing Smarter 

Since cities tend to be more compact, public transportation is usually available. Having easily accessible public transit can help reduce our carbon footprint. Cars can emit up to 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. 

However, urban areas are ideal places for increasing public transportation. This is because businesses and shops are already closer together. Having public vehicles use renewable energy sources can reduce climate change even more. 

Another way to reduce fuel emissions is to create more walkable paths. Lowering speed limits and adding sidewalks can make them safer for pedestrians. Technology can also help improve pathways. The installation of LED smart lights makes them more secure for walking at night. Also, clearly marked bike lanes can help lower the number of vehicles on the road. 

Having a well-designed layout can encourage people to use greener transportation more often. 

Using Renewable Sources

Reducing the amount of carbon produced by homes is key to preventing climate change. It also provides a solution that supports urbanization. Since urban areas are more densely populated, we want to use less energy to power buildings. Architects can do this by creating energy-efficient design plans and using renewable sources. To have cleaner energy sources, we want to move away from relying on fossil fuels.

Investing in solar and wind power can be an excellent alternative. These are also some of the most cost-effective options available. The average price for electricity created from solar power fell 26% since the early 2000s. Also, since these sources are more energy-efficient, they can lower your monthly expenses.  

Using Eco-Friendly Building Materials  

The construction process for new buildings can also increase our carbon footprint. When supplies, such as steel, are extracted and manufactured, it produces carbon dioxide. So, using greener building materials is a better solution during the urbanization process.  

Here are some sources to consider implementing:

  • Recycled steel
  • Bamboo
  • Straw bales
  • Precast concrete
  • Recycled or reclaimed wood 

Urban areas are excellent places to build this environmentally-friendly infrastructure. This is because new buildings are needed to help promote the growth of cities. They also help to satisfy the high demand for housing in crowded areas.

Investing in Nature-Based Solutions

Adding natural elements to properties can also reduce the risk of climate change. For example, urban biofilters placed on roofs help catch nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These are often emited by cars and heating systems. The reduction of carbon dioxide in the air can slow the effects of climate change. 

Also, green pavements can reduce temperatures to balance out the rising heat. Typical pavement materials can reach temperatures of 120-150℉ in the summertime. 

Planting More Trees

New development often leads to the forests being cut down. However, having more trees can help combat some of the negative effects of climate change. Trees help to purify the air by absorbing more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They also prevent flooding by lowering the amount of runoff water. 

Trees can even provide a cooling effect by evaporating water. In fact, trees in parking lots can reduce asphalt temperatures by 36℉. Planting more greenery in cities can help to break up the more compacted areas by creating a scenic view. 

Taking Advantage of Smart Technology 

With the advancement of technology, devices out there can improve a building’s energy efficiency. Smart thermostats are one example. These can adjust to your ideal temperature preference and even turn off when you’re not home. These devices are controlled through your smartphone for more convenience. 

Besides just convenience, these appliances are more efficient and conserve energy. People in urban areas are already used to a faster-paced lifestyle. So, these appliances can make their lives simpler. 

Here are some more smart devices for homeowners:

  • Smart lights
  • Video doorbell 
  • Smart lock
  • Smart home security system
  • Smart speaker 

Improving Waste Management Systems

Within larger cities, much more waste is produced. When the waste breaks down, it emits carbon dioxide and methane gases. Also, the incineration of these materials releases green gases and other pollutants. 

One way to prevent waste is only to buy what you need. You can also try buying in bulk to reduce packaging waste. Reusing and recycling items are essential to keep things out of landfills. 

Along with material waste, excess food can end up crowding landfills. With larger populations, cities end up throwing away significant amounts of food. In fact, each year, 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in America. Proper waste management practices can provide solutions and minimize the impact of urbanization. 

To help you dispose of less food, try to plan your meals ahead of time and then only buy those ingredients at the store. Another solution is to find creative ways to eat your leftovers. Also, if you want to save food, try storing it in the freezer, so it lasts longer. Composting is one good way to recycle food scraps. It also provides nutrients to the soil and can increase water retention.

Also, food can be wasted even before it arrives in stores. Food can be wasted during the production, manufacturing, and disruption stages. Improper storage and handling of items can lead to contaminated products. Also, during the transportation stage, items need to be kept at a specific temperature. 

Plus, the delivery trucks emit tons of greenhouse gases when traveling further distances. Using technology and following government guidelines can help with these issues. Also, farmers can invest in wastewater recycling systems to conserve water. 

Increasing Education on Climate Change

Many countries don’t have the tools to fully understand the impact of climate change on cities. So, the U.S. should expand its national labs to help provide innovative solutions to climate change. These labs can also help develop more advanced science to create better predictions. 

These organizations can then use their knowledge to support other countries. Plus, working with other countries can allow for better solutions. As cities continue to be a place of innovation, other areas must understand the impact of climate change. Also, education can be a key element in creating change at a local level. 

Here are some organizations already spreading awareness about this issue:

  • U.S Environmental Protection Agency
  • NOAA Education
  • Intergovernmental  Panel on Change 
  • National Climate Data Center
  • United Nations Environment Programme 

Providing Humanitarian Assistance

Climate change can create more severe weather, such as hurricanes, and cause flooding. Cities are often more affected since many trade hubs are located near the sea. These effects leave underdeveloped countries more vulnerable. Increasing urbanization in these countries can provide a solution to climate change. Urban areas are more connected, increasing the efficiency of disaster relief. 

Also, it’s important to build stronger relationships with other countries. This way we can help them develop tools and procedures for disaster relief. Help can also come from different resources besides just the military, such as fire departments.

While we may not be able to reduce all the effects of climate change, preparation is critical. This can help save the lives of people in low-income communities. 

How Urbanization Can Provide Solutions for Climate Change

Climate change continues to be a key issue for environmentalists and consumers. As economic growth continues to drive people to cities, we need to address this issue. Through well-designed buildings, urbanization can provide solutions for climate change that can help communities go green. 

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