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Sustainable Development in the USA

ISBN: 978-1-84821-133-9
320 pages
September 2009, Wiley-ISTE
Sustainable Development in the USA (1848211333) cover image
After WWII, the United States of America proposed their way of life, based on an unlimited consumption of land, goods, and energy, as a model for the entire world. Nowadays, this expansionist model has reached its limits. This book provides a comprehensive study of the geographical basis of the American settlements, assuming that part of the U.S. overshooting is related to geography because of harsh climates and the continental size of the Nation, but another part is the result of a cultural habits of expansion and segregation. Urban Sprawl, for instance, is the real Achille's heel of America, because it challenges the cultural revolution required by sustainability. From the continental physiography to the New Orleans – Katrina case, this book explores these issues with maps and charts created with the help of a nationwide multiscalar GIS.
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Introduction ix

Chapter 1. The American Territory 1

1.1. A continent-nation with a dispersed population 1

1.2. Major geographical areas 5

1.3. Unfavorable climatic factors 9

1.4. Physical geography of the US 17

Chapter 2. Developing the Territory 23

2.1. Agricultural regions 23

2.2. An agriculture which does not influence settlement 29

2.3. The abundance and limits of natural resources 33

2.4. Working towards the sustainable management of the American forest 33

2.5. Fossil resources-abundance and dependence 36

2.6. The case of fossil fuels 37

2.7. Environmental protection 46

Chapter 3. A Rapidly Growing Population 49

3.1. A relatively high fertility rate due to immigration 50

3.2. Life expectancy and aging 51

3.3. Aging – regional disparities 53

3.4. Immigration to the United States of America. 54

3.5. The country’s gateways 58

Chapter 4. A Multi-ethnic Nation 63

4.1. Native peoples 64

4.2. A nation of immigrants 66

4.3. The African-American question 68

4.4. America and Mexico 76

4.5. Geography of the population of Asian origin 82

Chapter 5. Regional Dynamics 85

5.1. Main features of settlement in the US territory 89

5.2. The dynamics of regional settlement between 1930 and 2005 95

Chapter 6. Economic Change and Territories 99

6.1. A changing economy 99

6.2. Economic growth 102

6.3. Industrial change105

6.4. A population on the move 108

6.5. Migration of retired populations 117

Chapter 7. A Suburban Nation 119

7.1. Urban sprawl 121

7.2. Big cities 126

7.3. Consequences of urban sprawl on sustainable development 131

7.4. Urban sprawl is not only a big city phenomenon 133

Chapter 8. Urban Fragmentation and Sprawl 137

8.1. Social divisions find expression in land use patterns 137

8.2. The challenge of governance in fragmented metropolitan areas 171

8.3. The crisis of cities 174

Chapter 9. New Orleans in Dangerous Waters 177

9.1. The physical components of natural hazards 178

9.2. Increased vulnerability from urban sprawl 184

9.3. The consequences of a natural disaster 195

Conclusion 203

Glossary 211

References 239

List of Tables and Figures 245

Index 251

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