, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 765–766 | Cite as

Comment on article “Is There a Metabolism of an Urban Ecosystem?” by Golubiewski

  • Christopher Kennedy

Having published a review of urban metabolism (UM) literature (Kennedy et al. 2011), three criticisms can be raised with Golubiewski’s article:

  1. 1.

    The paper has a tendency to misunderstand the intentions of UM researchers, and makes incorrect assertions about what UM studies are trying to achieve. It was difficult to follow the reasoning behind assertions such as “Proponents of UM assert that because it makes explicit the resource/waste pressures of a city, it constitutes an ecological assessment” and “With such statements, UM research aims to connect ecology and economics.” These are not apparent from the UM literature. It is well understood that fully connecting ecology and economics requires some form of integrated assessment, with UM as a key component (e.g., Fung and Kennedy 2005).

  2. 2.

    The critique tends to be overly focussed on loose statements in the UM literature in which the analogy between cities and organisms has been taken too far. I agree with the criticism of the...


Interdisciplinary Research Urban Ecosystem Urban Canopy Urban Sustainability Ecosystem Metabolism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Fung, M., and C.A. Kennedy. 2005. An integrated macroeconomic model for assessing urban sustainability. Environment and Planning B 32: 639–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hoornweg, D., P. Bhada, M. Freire, C. L. Trejos and R. Dave. 2010. Cities and Climate Change: An Urgent Agenda, World Bank InstituteGoogle Scholar
  3. Kennedy, C., J. Steinberger, B. Gasson, T. Hillman, M. Havránek, Y. Hansen, D. Pataki, A. Phdungsilp, A. Ramaswami, and G. Villalba Mendez. 2009. Greenhouse gas emissions from global cities. Environmental Science and Technology 43: 7297–7302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kennedy, C.A., S. Pincetl, and P. Bunje. 2011. The study of urban metabolism and its applications to urban planning and design. Journal of Environmental Pollution 159: 1965–1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations