5.10 Impacts of Urbanization

2 min readjanuary 8, 2023


Mark Little

AP Environmental Science ♻️

252 resources
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Urbanization is an increase in the number of people living in cities and towns. With more people in cities and towns, there are changes in the land use and economic development in the area.  Potential reasons for the increase in urbanization include population growth, economic development, and changes in transportation and communication technologies.
Urbanization affects a natural biogeochemical cycles with the changing balance of increased human populations.   

Impact to Natural Cycles

Because of the increased number of people in an area, the natural resources in the area are stressed, such as the availability of freshwater. Urbanization affects the nitrogen cycle by influencing plant growth by a change in nitrogen availability in soils. The water cycle is impacted in that structures like buildings or parking lots prevent water percolation and reduces the abilities of water to occur naturally in the environment.
The carbon cycle is impacted by the burning of petroleum based energy sources or fossil fuels that increase the amount of atmospheric CO2. In addition to creating more CO2, the process of building man made structures results in deforestation, further reducing the number of plants to capture the CO2.

Urban Sprawl

When urban growth spreads to rural areas and seems to have no limits in the urban areas, it can be called urban sprawl. The perception is that there is very little planning for the expanding commercial and housing areas. This unplanned growth puts a lot of stress on the environment and often leads to environmental problems like water pollution, reduction of available water supply, habitat loss and problems with proper waste disposal.
Urbanization can bring a number of benefits, such as increased access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. It can also lead to economic growth and development, as urban areas often have a higher concentration of businesses and industries. However, urbanization can also have negative impacts, such as congestion, pollution, and the loss of natural areas and biodiversity.
To mitigate these negative impacts, it's important for cities to plan for and manage urbanization in a way that promotes sustainable development. This can involve strategies such as investing in public transportation, promoting green spaces and energy-efficient buildings, and limiting sprawl. 🎥 Watch: Environmental Science Stream - Sustainability
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