Volume 92, Issue 68

Thursday, January 28, 1999


Helping out relief

New hydro plan could zap costs

Smuggling film closure

Students proactive about solution

Candidates address USC's student communication

Bigger not environmentally better

Hamill creates platform from all sides


Bigger not environmentally better

By John Intini and Lindsay Isaac
Gazette Staff

Increasing levels of pollution and environmental destruction have prompted a British Columbian ecologist to look at the impact of humans on their megacities.

William Rees, director of community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia, has been looking at the impact of urbanization for a number of years and said cities are placing such a strain on the environment, people will soon be forced to seriously assess their consumption patterns.

"This is not an anti-urban stance by any means but I feel it is important that people begin to think about making their cities more self-reliant," he said.

Rees, speaking in strictly ecological terms, described cities as parasites on their surroundings and said society should begin to think about bioregionalism as an alternative way of living. Rees defined bioregionalism as taking a step back from globalization and living off the land you live on.

"It is false to think that as we move away from nature we are less and less dependent on it," Rees said. "Increased technology has created an even greater reliance on nature."

Edward Ebanks, a professor of sociology at Western, agreed cities consume more than rural areas and therefore produce higher levels of pollution. However, this is only natural based on the greater contributions cities make to the gross domestic product, he added.

"There is a vicious cycle created by the cities in the production of the GDP," Ebanks said. "The cities create large problems as they produce little basic raw material, but cause pollution and create large masses of garbage and waste."

Martin Galka, a canvasser for Greenpeace, said cities create many environmental problems, but felt the problem is not so much with increasing urbanization, but with the lack of environmentally friendly consumption.

"The problem is not the concept of a city. At least people are not taking up valuable land that could be used for things such as organic farming, wildlife or other environmentally friendly uses," Galka said. "The average family size has gotten smaller, but the amount of space taken up by each family has increased."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999