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History of Urbanization and the Missing Ecology
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2013 (English)In: Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities / [ed] Elmqvist, T. et al., New York: Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2013, 13-30 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this chapter, we explore the historical dimension of urbanization and why the ecology of urbanization has, until recently, been missing. We discuss the consequences of this for our perceptions of urbanization throughout history and also discuss the emerging reintroduction of ecology and the concept of natural capital into the global discourse on urbanization and sustainability. Humans and the institutions they devise for their governance are often successful at self-organizing to promote their survival in the face of virtually any environment challenge. However, from history we learn that there may often be unanticipated costs to many of these solutions with long-term implications on future societies. For example, increased specialization has led to increased surplus of food and made continuing urban growth possible. But an increased urban - rural disconnection has also led to an alienation of food production from the carrying capacity of the land. While connections and feedbacks with the hinterland that supported growing urban centres were often apparent in the past, this has increasingly been lost in a globalized world. The neglect of a social-ecological perspective and the current disconnect between the urban and the rural risks mean that important feedback mechanisms remain invisible, misinforming policy and action with large consequences for global sustainability. We argue that through reintroducing the social-ecological perspective and the concept of natural capital it is possible to contribute to a redefinition of urban sustainability through making invisible feedbacks and connections visible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2013. 13-30 p.
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97129ISBN: 9789400770874OAI: diva2:675708
Available from: 2013-12-04 Created: 2013-12-04 Last updated: 2014-10-02Bibliographically approved

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Barthel, Stephan
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Stockholm Resilience CentreDepartment of History
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