Handbook of Research methods and Applications in Environmental Studies
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Handbook of Research methods and Applications in Environmental Studies

Edited by Matthias Ruth

This volume presents methods to advance the understanding of interdependencies between the well-being of human societies and the performance of their biophysical environment. It showcases applications to material and energy use; urbanization and technological transition; economic growth and social vulnerabilities; development and governance of social and industrial networks; the role of history, culture, and science itself in carrying out analysis and guiding policy; as well as the role of theory, data, and models in guiding decisions.
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Chapter 18: Are cities really smart? The environmental impact of urban and rural municipalities according to different methodological perspectives

Johannes Schubert and Bernhard Gill


The last 200 years have shown an ever increasing global trend towards urbanization on a worldwide level, and this trend is assumed to continue in the foreseeable future. In 1950, about 30 percent of the world population lived in cities. Today, it is 52 percent and – by 2050 – it will be 67 percent according to projections of the United Nations (UN). Cities will absorb more than the forecasted overall population increase, mainly in the developing nations, but in developed nations, too, urbanization is still increasing after some trends towards re-ruralization during the 1990s have come to a halt (Johnson 2006; Siedentop 2008). For developed countries the UN projects an increase from currently 78 percent to 86 percent of urbanized population by 2050. Thus, the question of how strongly this trend will increase or decrease impacts on the environment is of major importance (Coelho and Ruth 2006). Of course urban agglomerations are more seriously polluted than rural areas in absolute terms. Owing to higher population density and traffic intensity, the emission of pollutants from chimneys and cars is higher. This has been an old and ongoing problem for many decades.

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