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Cities and Nature

Cities and Nature

(p.2) Chapter 1 Cities and Nature
Constructed Climates
William G. Wilson
University of Chicago Press

Humans have altered the biosphere, greatly expanded their population, and now feel the effects of those alterations. A hunter-gatherer lifestyle gave way to an agrarian one, and an agrarian lifestyle gave way to an urban lifestyle. All these people, mostly concentrated into cities, put tremendous stresses on our natural resources. Water and fertilizers represent two fundamentally important aspects of sustaining a large human population because both factors relate to important ecological features, including evapotranspiration and net primary productivity. These two features drive many aspects of nature, an important one being biodiversity, meaning the number or richness of species within broad groupings of organisms. An important feature of increased urbanization is that when precipitation falls on impervious surfaces, the water makes its way through constructed storm water systems to urban streams. As a result, urban stream water quality suffers, killing the sensitive organisms living in urban streams. These consequences correlate directly to the amount of impervious surface contained in a watershed. This chapter looks at people's use of land and water, and how human densities and resources connect to important general ecological principles. This chapter also includes human population densities into the context of other creatures and explains several important ecological concepts that show the stark immensity of our present population.

Keywords:   evapotranspiration, species richness, biosphere, agrarian, hunter-gatherer lifestyle

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