How Does Urbanization Affect the Environment?

Urbanization impacts the environment through the strain of resources, including food, water, energy and the land itself, which increases as the population within the urban area increases. As the resources within a particular urban area are depleted, the area is expanded to accommodate further population growth and provide access to greater resources, leaving the environment of the original area damaged, and putting the strain on the new area.

Urbanization is the transformation of an area from an unpopulated or rural area into an urban area. This involves industrialization and introduction of dense populations, which bring with them much higher resource usage than previously anticipated. Urban populations consume far more food, consumable goods, energy and water than rural populations, as recognized by United Nations research.

The dense populations and environment-ravaging construction and industrialization of urbanization are not the only environmental impacts of this expansion. Urban populations, by merit of their higher incomes and more leisurely lifestyles, are more likely to consume high quantities of energy-using consumable goods such as televisions, refrigerators, and other technology. Research has indicated that this increases air, water and land pollution, and creates concentrated heat zones that influence weather patterns, generating thunderstorms, hailstorms, fog and cloudiness in greater frequency than rural areas. This not only puts the area at risk in the form of weather-related damage, it promotes trapping of pollutants within the atmosphere, contributing to long-lasting environmental damage and health risks for those in the area.