Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 2015, 3, 104-110
Published Online July 2015 in SciRes.
How to cite this paper: Li, X. and Qiao, Y.L. (2015) Environment Problems of City Development in China. Journal of Geos-
cience and Environment Protection, 3, 104-110.
Environment Problems of City Development
in China
Xin Li1, Yanli Qiao2
1Tianjin Research Institute of Water Transport Engineering, MOT, Tianjin, China
2ENN Intelligent Energy Co., Ltd., Langfang, China
Received 1 May 2015; accepted 25 July 2015; published 28 July 2015
Copyright © 2015 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).
Environmental issues in the process of rapid urbanization are critical to the sustainability of China.
Compact cities, characterized by relative high density, mixed land-use and pedestrian-oriented
habitation, have been proposed as one solution for sustainable urban planning. However, given
the fact that Chinese cities are characterized by high population densities, the applicability of a
more compact solution to expanding cities in China remains questionable. Essential to the deci-
sion-making is a deeper understanding about the relationship between urban compactness and
the sustainable environment of the cities. This study is proposed for an evaluation about the ur-
banization and urban development in Chinas context from environmental perspective, especially
with respect to atmospheric environment, water resources, waste pollution, and noise problems.
Environmental Issues, Rapid Urbanization, Ch ina, S tyl ing, Pollution
1. Introduction
Following the initiation of the reform and opening policy, urbanization in China increased in speed [1]. By the
end of 2013, population lived in urban areas are 53.7% of the total, a rate that rose from 26% in 1990 [2] [3].
According to official forecast, the urbanization rate will reach 60% by 2020 [4] [5].
Urbanization, in turn, is reshaping both the physical environment and the cultural fabric [6] [7]. Take, for
example, the issue of pollution [8]. Huge cities place huge demands on the environment [9]-[11], but
high-density living conditions also present opportunities for improving efficiency of energy usage [12] [13].
Accor din g to W or ld B ank ind i cato rs when e valua ti ng the le vel o f ur baniz atio n [14], the cur rent leve l of urb a-
nization in developed countries has reached about 80 percent [15], close to the world average of 50% [16] [17],
X. Li, Y. L. Qiao
the average level of developing countries was 42%, while Chinas leve l of o nly 36 %. Clic k here t o eval uate t he
level of urbanization in China is in the lo w to mid-level transition period.
2. Urbanization and Urban Development in China
China is the worlds largest developing country, since the reform and opening up, the rapid development of ur-
banization [18] [19], but Chinas urbanization process is not completed in the case of industrialized carried out
[20]. Before the reform and o pening up, indu strializa tio n a nd e cono mic develop ment i s re lativel y backward [21],
Chinas urbanization development stage is almost at a standstill [22]. Chinas urbanization rate increased from
28 percent to 45 percent only 15 years, and to increase by 1% per year rate of increase in 2035 will reach about
75%. Chinas urbanization process is much faster than the developed countries in Europe and America [23]. In
this regard theo rists and politicians have gi ven great attention (Fig ure 1).
Regional imbalances between urban development in China, the overall presentation “ladder” shape [24]. Chi-
na is c ur r ently t he ma in ur ba n de vel o p ment in l arge c it ie s, s mal l t o wn s d e vel o p men t is hi ghly une ve n [25], mo st
of the small cit y on the structure and f unction but also mee t the require ments, po llution, traffic planning unre a-
sonable; although cities can provide more resources and effectiveness, but development of big cities, unreasona-
ble structure i ncreasingl y prominent contradiction city needs to provide resources and people’s deterior a tion.
The rapid increase in the number of cities, on the other hand, there were many large cities, large cities, and
many cities in the contiguous spread from urban agglo merat io ns, be lt. T his is the main fea ture o f Ch ine se urb an
spatial structure [26]. A large piece of residential areas, industrial parks, development zones in the city a nd ot her
cities New Rising edge. The new industrial space, commercial ecological zones, new living space have e merged,
but also spawned the formation of rapid transit network. New newly formed space is bound to expand in the
open; some with concentric exp ansion, there ar e axial extensio n, more multi-core expansion, affecting the entire
city morphology. China is in the late stages of industrialization and urbanization accelerated development, con-
struction and development of a large number of industrial parks and development zones, making the high con-
sumption of resources and energy [27], the overall deterioration of the environment has not been fundamentally
reversed the trend, the development of unbalanced, uncoordinated and not continuing problem is more promi-
3. Environmental Issues of Urban Development Environment in China
Large scale development of China’s urbanization is uneven regional development (Figure 2). Many problems
brought about the development process of urbanization have emerged [21]. Urbanization process, a lot of the
rural population i nto the ci ties, a nd the i nflux o f urban p opulation s hould e njoy the benefi ts have not bee n pro-
tected [22]. In the p ro c ess o f urb a niz ati o n in t he c it y shoul d b e ab le to so lve the emp loym ent p r o b le m ca use d b y
the increase of urban population, housing issues, transportation issues [23], education, health problems and in-
frastructure issues [28]. But the ability to accommodate a population of each city is limited, almost become satu-
rated urban issues in residence, employment, housing, education, health care, pension, insurance, transportation,
Figure 1 . Urban population growth in China, comparing with continents and world (%).
X. Li, Y. L. Qiao
Figure 2. Population density of China.
production and management, and other prominent cultural life is particularly serious [24]. Urbanization in the
presence of t his series o f questions, with the reg ulation of national policy, guida nce, there will be ro om for i m-
provement. However, the process of urbanization in energy consumption caused by environmental problems
have been imminent, more serious environmental proble m in the short term is irreversible process, of particular
3.1. Impact of Urbanization on Atmospheric Environment
Urban air pollution is excessive expansion and rapid growth of the economy spawned a more prominent envi-
ronmental issues [25] [26].
At present, Chinas urban ambient air quality is in heavier overall pollution levels [27]. The main pollutants
are dust and sulfur dioxide [29]. Urban air pollution in winter and spring, heavier, summer, autumn light [30];
northern city of dust, dust pollution is heavy [38], heavy southern city of sulfur dioxide pollution, acid rain
damage widening [28] [31]. Overall, the northern cities are more important than the southern cities [32].
Meanwhile, with the increasing number of cars in the city [33], environmental pollution caused by auto mobile
exhaust has become increasingly serious [34] [35]; the atmosphere is facing the dual pressures of smoke pollu-
tion and car exhaust pollution [36]. In some cities, automobile exhaust emissions accounted for 35 percent of
urban air pollution, some even more than 50%, to prevent and reduce vehicle exhaust pollution has reached a
critical state. Potential danger of photochemical smog caused by vehicle exhaust could erupt at any time [37]. At
present, some Chinese large and medium cities in the hybrid vehicle exhaust soot and pollution.
In addition, urban heat island effect, urban average annual temperature increase, increase in temperature days,
the city is also a fall in atmosp heric visibility outstanding performance deterioration of urban atmospheric envi-
ronment [38].
World Urb an Air Qualit y Rep or t 2011 relea sed by the W orl d Health Or ga nization, C hina 31 cap ital cities, t he
air quality of the best sea, in 1082 the c ity of all s urveyed ranked o nly 814, ranked No . 978 in t he four mu nici-
palities Shan ghai bit, the rest were in 1000 after the city over a ll air quality is po or [39].
X. Li, Y. L. Qiao
3.2. Impact of Urbanization on Water Resources
Reduce the amount of water. Water pollution is also a city of over-exp ansio n and r apid econo mic gro wth i n the
birth of the environme ntal proble ms [40] [41]. With the increase of urban pop ulation, industrial and agricultur al
water use and the amount of water needed for life is also increasing [42] [43]. China is not rich in water re-
sources per capita, regional distribution is not uniform [44] [45], and a large inter-annual differe nce during the
year is also unpredictable [46] [47]. The existing more t han 600 cities in China, about 400 cities short of water,
there are more than 100 cities severe water shortages, water shortages more than 60 million/m3 per year [48].
Urban water shortages caused by overload, the overall function decline [49] [50]. T his is a limited resource, no t
only has not been effectively utilized, but often appears wasting water, water pollution phenomenon. More se-
rious is irrespo nsible to indiscr iminate dischar ge of industri al and domestic sewage, in recent years, the total na-
tional average wastewater enterprises in more than 100 million t per day. Among them, there are more than 80
percent of the wastewater did not get a ny treat ment, or after a certain treat ment, thoug h, but still i n line with t he
national emission standards. More than 90% of urban polluted waters, nearly 50% of key urban water do not
meet drinking water standards. Indisc riminat e disc harge o f waste water no t only makes t he origi nal co ntamina-
tion of rivers and lakes of water, and gave a lot of creatures brought great harm, and therefore around the coun-
try more than two thirds of the city there will be a shortage of water. Consequences of urban water shortage in
many cities is extensive use of groundwater, making lowering the water table, groundwater space destroyed,
lose the ability to regenerate, the city always at risk of land subsidence.
3.3. Impact of Urbaniza ti on on Waste Pollution
Garbage polluting the environment is the more prominent urbanization problems [51]. With the urban popula-
tion is growing, the amount of waste increases, according to experts, statistics 668 cities nationwide per capita
production of 440 kg of solid domestic waste, accounting for more than a quarter of the world total. Now urban
lifestyle has been saving” to “abandon” change, waste production is growing, and at a rate of 8 to 10 percent
annual growth, more than the world average growth rate (8.42%). At the same time, waste disposal means gen-
erally lag behind, simple incineration, landfill, or even open dumps, causing huge economic losses, aggravated
garbage si ege pheno menon, and s econdary pollution, lon g-term difficult to e liminate.
3.4. Impact of Urbanization on Noise Problems
Noise problem has been from the peaceful countryside to the bustling city of significant sign [52]. Envir on men-
tal noise pollution in China is in addition to air pollution, water pollution, and the third largest environmental
hazards. In the city, it has raised to the first major environmental hazards trend [53].
At present, nearly half of Chinas urban regional environmental noise pollution levels in the middle 33% of
the urban part of light pollution [54]. Living among a wide range of noise, and was widening, traffic noise to
disturb the largest living environment, construction noise nuisance is serious. The impact of the urban environ-
ment in a variety of noise sources, industrial noise accounted for 8% to 10% [55], about 5% of construction
noise, traffic noise is about 30%, or about 46 percent of social life noise.
4. Conclusion
Gener ally spea king, the analys is findin gs of this p aper ar e in conj unction with the mainst ream ar guments o f ur-
banization and urban development in China. However, the influences of urban compactness on studied envi-
ronmental attributes are simply for being much less significant as had been expected. The explanation can be
that general enviro nmental quality of any city is usually a function of assorted social, economic, climatic, topo-
graphical, a nd institutio nal va riables; the explanation po wer of densit y variables ca n be over whelmed. Also, un-
certainties with regar ds to multi-dir ectional intera ctio n of urb an develo p ment variable s, li ke urba n for m, pop ula-
tion scope, density and their diversified effects on urban environmental performance bring about the complex-
ness from the rela tionship.
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