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Metabolism and Major Urban Cycles. Remnants, Materials and Micro Pollutants

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What are wastes? In our material world, we have to manage a massive quantity of product and by-product, from organic and inorganic systems. This global movement, determined mostly by the expansion of industrial activities and mass consumption, is characterised by a significant growth of the environmental human footprint. Each urban civilisation implements strategies for the collection, removal and elimination of their flows (effluents and solid waste). 'Recycling' a city implies considering three major dimensions that characterise our urban metabolism in modernity: the dialectic of a city grappling with its (material and symbolic) history, between ruins and remnants all while dealing with the imperatives of 'rebuilding the city'; environmental crises that lead to more cost-efficient resource management and environmental protection, according to a still fuzzy model of urban metabolism yet to be designed; and the emergence of health risk factors outside the 'waste' category in the form of imperceptible micro pollutants that make up urban environments.

Keywords: micro-pollutants; remnants; urban metabolism cycles

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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