The Natural Capital Crisis in Southern U.S. Cities

20 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2017 Last revised: 30 Oct 2017

Date Written: June 14, 2017


The southern United States is witnessing an economic and population boom, and development sprawl is increasing in proportion. Southern state and local jurisdictions maintain some of the least stringent land use regulations in the context of preserving open space and natural resources (or, "natural capital"). This perfect storm, which may rightly be called a crisis, poses a substantial threat to southern natural capital. This article defends the "crisis" label by analyzing southern sprawl through an analytical framework consisting of three components, seeking to demonstrate how southern sprawl: 1) is a land use tragedy of the commons; 2) is a result of an increasingly dynamic modern environment; and 3) reveals the aggregated effects of localized human-natural environment interfaces through both geographic space and time. This framework assists in thinking anew about the drivers of the crisis so that policy-makers can more properly shape necessary responses.

Keywords: Sprawl, Natural Resources, Natural Capital, Southern, South, Land Use

Suggested Citation

Hudson, Blake, The Natural Capital Crisis in Southern U.S. Cities (June 14, 2017). Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 92, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN:

Blake Hudson (Contact Author)

Cumberland School of Law ( email )

800 Lakeshore Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States

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