Most of this chapter is devoted to a few simple claims about the relationship between affluence and urban environmental burdens. The claims centre on the tendency for urban environmental burdens to be more dispersed and delayed in more affluent settings (Bartone et al, 1994; Lee, 1994; McGranahan, 1993; McGranahan et al, 1996; Pugh, 1996; Satterthwaite, 1997). This relationship is then used to develop a somewhat stereotypical account of the environmental priorities of poor, intermediate and affluent cities. In summary, the most significant environmental burdens tend to have the following character:

Poor cities – localized, immediate and health threatening. Middle-income cities – citywide or regional, somewhat more delayed, and a

threat to both health and (ecological) sustainability. Affluent cities – global, intergenerational and primarily a threat to sustainability.

This shifting locus of environmental burdens reflects predispositions rather than predetermined outcomes, and affluence is only one factor among many. Particularly important, some cities are far more successful than others are at taking action to reduce their environmental burdens. A poor city that is well managed is likely to have far fewer environmental problems than a poor city that is badly managed. Much the same holds for intermediate and affluent cities, even if their most critical environmental challenges are usually quite different.