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Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment / Edition 1

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Overview

Rapid urban growth and suburban sprawl have heightened concern in many quarters about sustainable development. Are economic growth and environmental health always mutually exclusive goals? Nearly everyone would choose to pursue both given the chance, but many believe that it would be overly optimistic-perhaps naïve-to expect both. "Green city" proponents, however, do hope to realize both ambitions.

What exactly is a green city? What does it mean to say that San Francisco is greener than Houston, or that Vancouver is a green city while Beijing is not? When does urban growth lower environmental quality, and when does it produce environmental gains? These are the questions that drive this smart and engaging book.

In Green Cities, Matthew Kahn surveys the burgeoning economic literature on the environmental consequences of urban growth. He discusses the environmental Kuznets curve, which theorizes that the relationship between environmental quality and per capita income follows a bell-shaped curve. The heart of the book unpacks and expands this notion by tracing the environmental effects of economic growth, population growth, and suburban sprawl. Kahn considers how cities can deal with the environmental challenges produced by growth. His concluding chapter addresses the role of cities in promoting climate change and asks how cities in turn are likely to be affected by this trend.

Kahn considers the evidence for and against rival perspectives throughout the book. Despite being labeled as purveyors of a "dismal science," economists are often quite optimistic about the relationship between urban development and the environment. In contrast, many ecologists remain wary of the environmental consequences of free-market growth. Green Cities does not try to settle this dispute. Instead, it marshals data and arguments to convey the excitement of an ongoing debate, enabling readers to formulate well-informed opinions and priorities on this critically important issue.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In a clear and straightforward manner, [Kahn] illuminates the complex relationship between humans and the environment and convincingly makes the case that growth can be expected to generate both positive and negative effects on environmental quality in cities." —Michele Betsill, Colorado State University, Global Environmental Politics

"Kahn has provided an important contribution to the analytical discourse on the greening of cities. He has successfully managed to present relatively esoteric economic methods for an informed policy audience within the span of a short paperback book, which is itself an achievement." —Saleem H. Ali, University of Vermont, Journal of the American Planning Association

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815748151
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,130,578
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew E. Kahn is a professor of economics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He has published widely in the fields of environmental and urban economics, including research on sprawl, public transit, and the costs and benefits of environmental regulation. He also blogs on environmental and urban economics at greeneconomics.blogspot.com.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Introduction 1

2 Measuring Urban Enviornmental Quality 8

3 The Urban Environmental Kuznets Curve 30

4 Income Growth and the Urban Environment: The Role of the Market 50

5 Income Growth and Greener Governance 67

6 Population Growth and the Urban Environment 93

7 Spatial Growth: The Environmental Cost of Sprawl in the United States 110

8 Achieving Urban and Global Sustainability 130

References 138

Index 150

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