The main characteristics of urban socio-ecological trajectories: Paris (France) from the 18th to the 20th century

The main characteristics of urban socio-ecological trajectories: Paris (France) from the 18th to the 20th century

Ecological Economics 118 (2015) 177–185 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Ecological Economics journal homepage:

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Ecological Economics 118 (2015) 177–185

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Ecological Economics journal homepage:


The main characteristics of urban socio-ecological trajectories: Paris (France) from the 18th to the 20th century Sabine Barles Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, UMR Géographie-Cités, 191 rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris, France

a r t i c l e

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Article history: Received 4 September 2014 Received in revised form 9 June 2015 Accepted 22 July 2015 Available online 4 August 2015 Keywords: Urban socio-ecological trajectory Socio-ecological regime Urban metabolism Environmental imprint Urban extraterritoriality Territorial ecology

a b s t r a c t For some years now, interactions between societies and the biosphere have been the subject of socio-ecological studies (SESs), which analyse socio-ecological regimes, trajectories and transitions. This article follows the approach, and seeks to contribute to the analysis of socio-ecological urban trajectories since the Industrial Revolution. It draws on some key notions which are tested and applied to Paris. The urban socio-ecological regime of the industrial era has three major characteristics: i) the near-total externalisation of a more intensive urban metabolism, associated with the breakup of supply areas and the deepening, urban footprint on the environment; ii) the importance of infrastructure to this metabolism, which fits into a process of generalised networking led by engineers and leads to urban technical inter-dependencies; and iii) the urbanisation of landscapes associated with the proliferation of extra-territorial urban influences, despite the loss of certain skills available to the French capital. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction The analysis of interactions between societies and the biosphere is of major importance for anyone looking to understand one of these issues, or even the Anthropocene as a whole (Crutzen, 2002). For a number of years, work has been conducted in the field of socio-ecological studies (SESs). It has led to the conceptualisation and identification of socioecological regimes, trajectories and transitions (Fischer-Kowalski and Haberl, 2007). These notions recall the terminology used in science and technology studies (STSs); but SESs differ because they bring the biosphere into the analysis (Fischer-Kowalski and Rotmans, 2009). The approach developed within the framework of SESs is often macroscopic and concerns especially energy transitions, as well as the use of land. These factors are inseparable and have marked human history, and SESs stress the transformation of societies' metabolism: i.e., the energy and material flows that societies use and transform, which are the material expression of interactions between human society and the biosphere. Socio-ecological studies generally define three main types of socioecological regimes: the fire regime, the agrarian regime and the industrial regime (De Vries and Goudsblom, 2002). The period covered in this article only refers to the latter two. The agrarian regime is based on solar energy, and the primary energy source is provided by the biomass. Land use therefore plays a determining role. In contrast, the industrial regime is based on fossil fuels, so that the provision of primary

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energy is decoupled with land use. Growth is far faster, and the flows and stocks of the social metabolism rise far more quickly, with significant environmental consequences (Krausmann et al., 2008). However, the industrial socio-ecological regime spreads unequally in space, and local socio-ecological regimes may vary from one country to another and within a country. A country may have regions with an agrarian regime, and others with an industrial regime (this was especially the case in the 19th century, and indeed even for the first half of the 20th century in France; Bonaudo et al., 2014). Moreover the local expression of a regime may vary from one region to another: several types of agricultural systems exist within the agrarian regime, as several types of industrial systems may also exist within the industrial regime. Lastly, whatever the regime, a spatial specialisation may exist, expressing locally the interactions between societies and the biosphere. Thus, it seems important to develop localised analyses of socio-ecological regimes, as suggested by territorial ecology (Barles, 2010). This choice is also justified concerning the study of change. To be sure, the transitions observed in a macroscopic way seem somehow to be inevitable. Yet, they occur in places and through varied processes, some of which are simply experienced, while others are encouraged. Others still have been resisted, or even did not take place (Diamond, 2005). Consequently, an analysis based on trajectories, regimes and transitions, situated within a society and local milieu, helps to explain the conditions in which these processes unfold, and hence fuel debate about the current issues associated with them. Towns and cities are extremely favourable areas for investigating these ideas, because they are centres of power, innovation and consumption. Studies on contemporary urban metabolism have proliferated


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recently (Kennedy et al., 2007, 2012; Barles, 2010; Weisz and Steinberger, 2010; Rosado et al., 2014), but such metabolism has been little examined over time. Joel Tarr's (2002) article may be cited from this perspective, yet it is very qualitative. Also, in their work on the town of Linköping, Tina Schmid Neset et al. (2008) only deal with urban phosphorus. In contrast, Krausmann (2013) in looking at Vienna do adopt a more complete approach, and recently there has been a series of studies on the environmental footprint of towns (Billen et al., 2012b). Paris has also been examined with much attention over the last years (Barles, 2007a, 2007b; Chatzimpiros, 2011; Billen et al., 2012a; Kim and Barles, 2012). These studies have not made many explicit references to the concepts outlined here. Nevertheless, they have implicitly shed light on socio-ecological urban regimes. Cities are characterised especially by their dense human population (Fig. 1), by the importance of artefacts and by the domination of the built environment over the natural environment — the degree of this domination can vary from a city to another, but has generally increased since the 18th century. They were shaped by the urbanisation process, which affected the whole of Europe as of the 18th century (earlier in some cases). Cities drew a significant share of industrial activity which developed at that time. Being often affected by a concomitant wood crisis, they also (quite) rapidly welcomed new energy sources. Moreover, cities were the cradle of the consumer society. From this point of view, they were both the cause and the result of the transition from the agrarian to the industrial regime, and the way that this transition took place from the end of the 18th century onwards. Cities are completely intertwined in the general socio-ecological regime, yet they are also singular places, even systems or socio-natural sites (Winiwarter et al., 2013). It needs therefore to be asked how this singularity expresses itself in terms of the interactions between societies and the biosphere, and hence the localised socio-ecological regime. The aim of this text is therefore to contribute to the analysis of socioecological urban trajectories since the Industrial Revolution, based on previous work on the French capital. It crosses material and energy flow analyses with environmental history, the history of techniques and finally urban history. The sources used are local public archives, the technical literature and statistics generated by government during the last two centuries. The aim is not to exhaust the subject, even if only for Paris. Instead, the idea is to put forward factors used to analyse this trajectory, drawing on some key notions or descriptors, which will be explained. Territorial metabolism is the primary expression of a localised socioecological regime. It is therefore necessary to analyse the characteristics of urban metabolism during the industrial era, in the first place: how

Fig. 1. Population, Paris, Seine département*, Île-de-France**, 1786–2007, million inhabitants. *The Seine département is the administrative unit that comprises Paris and 80 other municipalities up to 1967. **Île-de-France is the administrative region that comprises Paris (which has been both a municipality and a département since 1967) and three other départements. It was created in 1967. Data based on official census.

does it differ from the pre-industrial metabolism, or that of other territories? How was it transformed during the last two centuries? These issues are looked at in Section 2. The next section (Section 3) considers that an urban metabolism results from the interlacing of different natural processes and human techniques, and examines the transformation respectively between the two, during the period studied. This leads to the question of city dominance over resources, territories and extraurban areas, which is tackled in Section 4. The final Section 5 concludes. 2. The Intensification and the Externalisation of the Urban Metabolism From a socio-ecological point of view, it is possible to argue that one of the main characteristics of cities today lies in the externalisation of their metabolism, which existed even before the Industrial Revolution. Historians and urban planners agree that towns emerged as some of their inhabitants were able to free themselves from subsistence production. This allowed them to develop other activities, especially trade. Towns therefore reflect social and spatial specialisations. As for their metabolism, external flows at first involved food, as well as flows for heating and the preparation of food (or what has been called “energy” since the 19th century). Building materials were often taken from towns' immediate vicinity, for convenience and transport. Paris is no exception. In the 18th century, its food came largely from its vast hinterland: “Paris normally draws grain from Isle de France, Brie, Hurepoix, Beauce, Vexin, Valois, Picardy, Champagne and part of Burgundy, which are the most abundant provinces of the Kingdom” (Mémoire sur la fertilité des Provinces du Royaume). Most foodstuffs came from within a radius of about 250 km (Abad, 2002; Billen et al., 2012a, 2012b). Wood was provided by the Seine basin, and transported by rafting (about two-thirds), by boat or by land (a small share). The Yonne and Morvan river basins were the main source, so the supply distance was on average about 200 km, stretching to a maximum of 400 km. Mineral construction materials were extracted in Paris' immediate vicinity, practically at its gates, including: stone, gypsum for plaster, and lime manufactured locally with local limestone. Paris also obtained finished or semi-finished products from other towns and produced some of its consumer goods itself. Paris too was productive: it provided some of its metabolism internally. Urban farming of rabbits supplied hat-making. Saltpetre for gunpowder was collected on walls that were more or less rotten, soaked with organic matter (especially human and animal urine). Rags were collected for paper. Some vegetables were locally grown. Furthermore, most of the urban water cycle was internal: water being drawn from wells (about 22,000 at the end of the 18th century), from rain or from the Seine. The distribution of imported water was much limited. A large share of urban excreta remained on site, either used or lost (urine drained into the ground, and faeces mixed with street sludge). From this point of view, it may be said that the preindustrial urban metabolism was partly internal, at least for Paris. In contrast, the Industrial Revolution(s) led to nearly all of Paris' metabolism being externalised. In the 19th century, this first affected water. It took on a new function as a universal cleaning agent, and large quantities were required. Water therefore had to be running, abundant and gushing. Water from the river Ourcq (a tributary of the Marne, to Northeast of Paris) was channelled from about 100 km upstream to Paris, at the start of the 19th century (water from the Beuvronne was quickly added, in order to make navigation possible). As of the Second Empire (1852–1870), when water distribution in homes became widespread, several sources were used, within a radius of about 200 km around Paris (the last being tapped in the inter-war period). Potential water production thus rose tenfold and unit consumption six-fold from 1807 to 1854 (though this water was mainly consumed outside homes). Further respective increases by factors of 11 and 4 occurred between 1854 and 1914. The externalisation of the discharge of wastewater followed supply. The first sewer programme

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began in 1831–1832, and included a multitude of conduits which disposed of water in Paris. The observation that water quality in the Seine was deteriorating, linked to the need of evacuating water from homes, led to the unification of the sewerage system. The outlet was first located in Clichy, after the first downstream loop in the Seine, and then further away, notably in Achères, 60 km downstream from Paris. Sewage farms began operating in 1869, and peaked between 1900 and 1940. This led to a new form of externalisation of the urban water cycle: as the city became steadily more impermeable, evaporation and transpiration fell progressively but became increasingly intense in the 5000 ha of sewage farms (Barles, 2007b). This relocation of the water cycle lasted for as long as these fields were in operation. Another important impact of the Industrial Revolutions on Paris' metabolism concerned urban waste. Two phases are identifiable in its treatment. During the first two-thirds of the 19th century, recycling activities intensified in response to industrial and agricultural demand. The bulk of waste found outlets either in Parisian factories or in the surrounding countryside. Rags as always, but also meat bones from which phosphorous was extracted (to make matches), animal carbon (for the refining and purification of sugar), gelatine (for preparing food and later photographic negatives), bone material itself (to make buttons and other objects), food cans to make toys, etc. All of these materials were recovered and supplied the local industry and provided goods for urban residents, with the exception of rags, transformed outside Paris. The demand for food stimulated the recycling of urban fertilisers thanks to sewage farms, night soil transformation and the use of various urban by-products (Fig. 2). Most of these were of course not used in situ, but were initially intended for vegetable growers around the city, who became prosperous. Such externalisation was therefore close by. Even though the distribution area of urban fertiliser spread during the 19th century, it remained smaller than the area of food supplies. However, these activities declined and the supply areas of Paris expanded as new technologies developed, including the discovery of new fertilisers (fossil phosphates, nitrogen compounds extracted from the air using the Haber–Bosch process, potash from Alsace); as new raw materials were used (based on coal and petrochemicals); as the search for substitutes advanced (for rags, when these became insufficient); as industrial and municipal requirements and industrial zoning expanded, etc. (Barles, 2005). The recycling of urban waste gave way to elimination, destruction and abandonment. Treatment facilities, when they existed, were established outside the towns that they served: the crushing and subsequently incineration plants for household waste at Ivry, Romainville, Saint-Ouen, and Issy; waste dumps in a radius of 60 km from Paris; the wastewater treatment plant at Achères. Externalisation was henceforth complete, even though areas absorbing emissions were smaller than supply areas. Looking at the mobility of discharges into the Seine, for example, it has to be recognised

Fig. 2. The recycling rate of dietary nitrogen, Paris, %. Barles (2007b)


that water quality was affected for several tens of kilometres of the river outside Paris at the start of the 20th century, and practically all the way to its estuary in the 1970s. The 19th and 20th centuries were marked by a veritable ideology of movement and networking. The period was characterised by the intensification of energy and material flows (Fig. 3), and also by the distancing and spread of supply areas (with the exception of water which continued to be drawn from the Seine basin). This process was amplified by the transition from wood to coal in Paris, around 1850 (when coal started to supply more than 50% of energy consumption). This transition also marked the decline of energy links between Paris and its basin. Supply areas diversified (the south, then the north of France, Belgium and later in the 20th century Russia, etc.); and so did energy sources (including oil, hydraulic power, natural gas, and nuclear

Fig. 3. Food (expressed in nitrogen units), energy and water flows, Paris conurbation, a) per capita, b) total and c) supply distances. Synthesis based on Kim and Barles (2012), Billen et al. (2012a), Barles (2007b) and Chatzimpiros (2011).


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energy) (Kim, 2013). After World War II, the break in the complementarity between mixed farming and meat supply led to a separation in the supply areas of cereals and meat. Meat was still produced in France to be sure, but henceforth fed by protein imported from America in particular (Chatzimpiros, 2011). The transport revolution played a major role in these mutations: the average distance of supplies had quadrupled in 200 years, and rose twentyfold for energy (Fig. 3). These processes had major consequences for the environmental footprints of urban areas. The footprints may have been more fragmented, and not necessarily more spread out in terms of area. But they often became deeper, as their impact became denser and hence more important. This has been especially the case of food supplies: the land area needed to feed Paris is smaller today than it was a hundred years ago. But it uses more types of inputs (fertilisers, pesticides, etc.), in much greater quantities. So the footprint is deeper. As for solid and liquid wastes, when re-use became less economic, the need for disposal led to an extension and densification of the urban environmental footprint, downstream from Paris and cities in general.

3. The Infrastructural Dimension of Urban Metabolism The externalisation of urban metabolism involves technical, linear facilities in some cases, and one-off facilities in other cases. Together these constitute another material dimension of the industrial socioecological regime (see also Bélanger, 2013, on this particular aspect). Indeed, it is possible to see the urban metabolism as the result of the interweaving of natural processes – physical, chemical and biological – and human techniques. These techniques also mobilise natural processes which they superimpose on existing processes that they seek to transform, correct and/or support. The term “technique” is used here in its anthropological meaning, and may manifest itself in many ways, ranging from a simple gesture, through to infrastructure (and beyond). Infrastructure is no longer an extension of the body as a tool, but is a detached technical object. It has a certain degree of independence, as it is separated from the human body by one or more intermediaries. In this respect, the Industrial Revolution was characterised by the growing role of infrastructure in the urban metabolism at the expense of its gestural dimension. Infrastructure as a technical measure or device preceded the Industrial Revolution. But it subsequently developed to take on its full meaning and place: only in 1886 did the word “infrastructure” enter French dictionaries, in a relatively narrow sense referring to “A word relating to civil engineering. The name given to land, earthworks and railway works”1 (Littré, 1886, 201). Infrastructure and civil engineering works became the main, material expression of the anthropogenic component, or rather social component of the metabolism. From this point of view, they undertook a twofold substitution. In people's minds if not in practice, infrastructure and works became substitutes for nature: Masson wrote in 1945 that “the role [of the public works entrepreneur] is essentially to violate nature, to subject it to human needs. The entrepreneur is indeed always in a struggle with nature which he/she modifies or transforms in order to replace it by his/her own works” (Masson, 1945, 17). Infrastructure and civil engineering also substituted themselves for technical gestures: for example, the number of water bearers in Paris fell from 1253 in 1860 to only 800 in 1875 (Csergo, 1990, p. 148), as water was increasingly distributed into homes by pipes. The other infrastructural characteristic of the metabolism since industrialisation has indeed been its criss-crossing, mesh-like nature. The concept of networks emerged during the 18th century, but came into its own in the following century (Guillerme, 1991). Networks were thus seen as the most efficient way of managing urban flows

1 “Terme de génie civil. Nom donné aux terrains, aux terrassements et aux travaux d'art d'une voie ferrée”.

upstream and downstream. Upstream, networks guaranteed supply and economic development. Downstream, they contributed to cleanliness and urban conveniences. In cities, their mesh-like nature helped optimise the urban metabolism by separating, channelling and orienting flows into dedicated network outlets (for Paris in the 19th century these included road, water and then sewage, gas, compressed air, electricity, telephones, public transport, canals and railways). Such networks were associated with the idea that the intensification of flows could not be challenged. The design and management of these works was dominated by a rising figure in French urban planning, namely the engineer, “a man of method, a man used to big business” (Alphand, 1884, 211). Engineers had already contributed to transforming land in the 18th century, and so became the rulers of the urban metabolism. In Paris, engineers officially became actors in 1792, when a decree by the municipal office created the job of “hydraulic engineer of the commune”, to oversee the distribution of all public waters. This “urbanisation” of engineers was generalised by an imperial decree in 1807, placing the “major municipal departments responsible for water, sewage and roads […] under the authority of the Ministry of Interior and the General council for bridges and roads” (Landau, 1993, 25). In 1835, the reference book La Science de l'ingénieur specified that in training engineers should “learn how to apply physics and mathematics to the art of construction in general” (Delaistre, 183, 1, iv). A hundred years later, the parent disciplines were the same: “above all else, engineers have to study mathematics deeply. This science is indeed the basis of all applied sciences in which the knowledge of mathematics is necessary” (Dufour, 1931, quoted by Masson, 1945, 20). “Mechanics, physics and chemistry should complement the knowledge of mathematics”, Masson added (1945, 21), specifying that “from a practical point of view, the Resistance of Materials and Hydraulics will be fundamental technical sciences in the tool box of a public works engineer” (Masson, 1945, 31). The biological world was excluded. The infrastructures of the urban metabolism are thus separated from the towns that they serve as they are from the human body (Fig. 4). Within the urban environment, they acted as a technical basement of the city, the “second map of a town” (Emmery, 1836, 266). Their linear parts were often underground, and hidden, and they extended beyond towns. They can in some ways be considered as technical annexes, as two-way dependencies: they depend on towns, just as towns depend on them. Infrastructures are urban yet outside the urban space, because they have no reason to exist other than serving the towns that they are part of. Again such features existed before the Industrial Revolution. In the case of wood supply, for example, infrastructural works had been carried out since the 16th century, far upstream from Paris, in order to facilitate rafting down small waterways. Such public works included: storage ponds (“it is with the help of these ponds […], the support of such artificial sources […] that we obtain our wood, which comes down from distant mountains a hundred leagues from the capital and which provides Paris with 200 thousand Voyes [approximately 2 m3]” (Approvisionnement de Paris en bois)), and the correction of watercourses. Indeed, generally most of the watercourses of the Paris basin were transformed to meet the needs of the city. But these transformations on the whole did not result in a substitution of natural courses by infrastructure. Public works in the 19th and 20th centuries, in contrast, did act as substitutes. They included, the Ourcq canal (on which 6000 to 8000 workers laboured continuously for several years), the aqueducts that brought urban water to Paris and which could stretch up to 180 km, sewers, gas pipelines (first inside Paris as gas plants existed in the town), and later electricity cables, all of which were indeed infrastructural substitutes of eco-technological devices. Another characteristic of the infrastructural metabolism has been the proliferation of one-off urban, technical facilities. In the energy sector, these include gasworks, compressed air plants, power stations and later nuclear power stations. These intermediate facilities between

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Fig. 4. From water carriers (a) to aqueducts (b: the aqueduct of the Vanne, today south of Paris): the infrastructural dimension of the urban metabolism. Sources: a) engraving by Edmé Bouchardon, 18th century (Pitsch, 1949) and b) photo by Barles (2012).

resources and towns were progressively moved to a distance, before finally being integrated into international networks. As a result, they contribute to a town's environmental footprint, which is not only located where natural resources are extracted. In 1875, 100% of the energy transformation for Paris took place in the surrounding region (which later became Ile-de-France). This figure fell to 82% by 1965, and to 36% in 2006 (Kim and Barles, 2012). In the 20th century, water purification works were set up, and later plants were created for the treatment of wastewater. The whole territory was thus marked with the emergence of urban networks. Finally, infrastructures for dealing with urban metabolism have become considerably more complex over the last two centuries. Looking at water again, it is notable that during the Second Empire, Eugène Belgrand (the Pont et Chaussées engineer responsible for Paris water) chose not to mix the spring water network for drinking water, and water from the Ourcq, Seine and Marne rivers. The latter, “raw” water was to be used for cleaning public spaces, courtyards, sewers and for watering. As a result, Paris has two distribution networks, the first and clear indicator of complexity (Barles et al., 2012). As the quantity of water available from the Ourcq was insufficient for navigation, other

diversions were made to supply it. The river Clignon was accessed in particular, as of 1841. Its navigable deviation crosses the Ourcq river by a canal-bridge, to join the Ourcq canal. As the canal's water supply is insufficient in summer, two pumping plants were constructed in the 1860s, upstream from Paris (Trilbardou and Villers-les-Rigault), where the canal runs along and overlooks the Marne. The plants take water from the latter to supply the canal, thus networking the river system. The canal was widened twice, once at the end of the 19th century and once between the wars. The last deviations of water sources between the wars also led to complex infrastructural solutions. The Voulzie river springs, which were undertaken just after World War I, deprived the town of Provins of some of its water, so that “to restore the underground waters of Voulzie, a pumping station was created at Ormes […]. Water is drawn from the Seine” (Sentenac, 1930, 322), which thus supplies Provins upstream, while the Voulzie aqueduct connects with the Vanne and the Lunain aqueducts, 39 km away, to the south of Paris. These additional sources supplement water that has been taken from the Seine and the Marne immediately upstream from Paris (since the end of the 19th century). But they were not enough to supply the city. As early as 1928,


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Paris was using 1.8 million m3 of water per day, to say nothing of its suburbs, whose needs were neglected for a long time. In 1930, it was estimated that Paris would require an additional million cubic metres per day to satisfy its needs in 1970. Water was also chronically insufficient during the summer months: in the 1920s, 28 m3/s were drawn from the Seine (without counting power station cooling), whereas water flows in the summer barely reached 35 m3/s (Gilbert, 1958, 239). This led France's central government to stop Paris from increasing the amount of water it took from the river: at the time the city was consuming on average 15 m3/s of water (of all types), of which two-thirds were drawn locally. Several projects were thus re-launched, in order to ensure the level of the Seine for navigation and its flow to supply water during summer. These projects included the deviation of water from the Val de Loire river basin, from Lake Neuchâtel or from Lake Geneva, as well as the construction of reservoirs upstream from Paris. In 1920, Henri Chabal (a graduate of one of France's top engineering schools) put forward a plan to create 23 reservoirs in the Seine basin, ranked in three levels of descending emergency. The project was adapted and adopted in 1926, and three reservoirs (Crescent, Chaumençon, and Champaubert-aux-Bois) became operational in the 1930s: construction of a fourth reservoir (Pannesière-Chaumard) began in 1938 but was not completed until 1950, after a long interruption due to the War (Langlois, 2003). These reservoirs provided an average water flow of 12 m3/s during the summer. A second, more significant generation of works came into operation from the 1960s to the 1980s (Orient, Der-Chantecoq, Amance-et-Temple). They brought the potential summer supply to 80 m3/s (spread out over four months) and also aimed to protect Paris from flooding. These new urban infrastructures are situated 200 km to 300 km from Paris, and are characterised by the fact that they are integrated into waterways. In some ways they are very similar, on a much larger scale, to the eco-technical works of the Ancien Régime, although they were never considered as such by their designers and managers, who saw them as infrastructures. The industrial age has indeed been marked by the glorification of infrastructure. Invoking the works constructed at the start of the 19th century, Delaistre (1832, 1, v) wrote, “from wherever one arrives in France today, the beauty of its monuments is striking”. According to the Magasin pittoresque in 1890, Paris' supply works “are far superior to the most grandiose ones created by the Romans” (Aubin, 1890, 118). Many more examples exist of this popularity with infrastructural works, which has been a characteristic of the industrial, socio-ecological regime.2 4. The Urbanisation of Landscapes, Institutional and Extra-territorial Urban Influences The externalisation of urban metabolism in the industrial age, linked to its strong infrastructural dimension, has led to what could be qualified as the urbanisation of the extra-urban landscape: the countryside outside towns has been transformed according to urban needs alone. This notion aims at encompassing the duality of the urban metabolism as set out here: the combination of natural and social processes which took on a particular nature during the industrial age. It translates an implicit appropriation of the land and territories affected, be it in terms of the environmental footprint or the flow of resources,3 and more generally in terms of the biotope (including infrastructure) and the biocoenosis. The concept of landscape here draws on its ecological meaning as well as its humanist and sociological meanings. Indeed, the influence of a town on surrounding territories not belonging to it is reflected in 2 Opposition to infrastructural works existed, but we try here to describe the dominant point of view of this time. 3 From this point of view, the urbanisation of the extra-urban landscape converges on the notion of the Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (see for example Haberl et al., 2007).

its impact on natural milieus, as well as in its consequences and implications on human societies themselves. This raises an important question in socio-ecological studies: Who decides? As the territories of urban metabolism are not those of the town, especially in the industrial age, what are the relationships between the two? Under what conditions can the town appropriate the resources and milieus of the countryside? This article began by looking at food and energy supplies for the capital, whose externalisation is somehow consubstantial with urban development. Under the Ancien Régime, flows were very strictly regulated by urban authorities (by the Provost of Merchants) and France's central government. Paris had an even greater prerogative over wood than food, so much so that the supply perimeter or district (arrondissement) was almost exclusively under the town's control. It included both the forests which provided wood and the rivers transporting it (Barles, 2013). It is even possible to speak about institutional control, as the town had the rights to territories which did not belong to it. It is therefore notable that subsequently the new industrial socio-ecological regime saw the City of Paris's power recede during the 19th century, as authority was transferred to the central government concerning energy, and later to private actors for food. At the same time, Paris lost its prerogatives on the Seine river system, which followed from its rights to supply. These were transferred to the Ministry of the Interior, during the Revolution. As for the office of external navigation (in contrast to the office of internal navigation of the Seine), the city stopped financing it, given that “for a long time [the office] no longer had a particular interest in the supply of fuels to the city of Paris” (Préfecture, 1839). So in 1839, Paris really withdrew from the management of the Seine's banks, outside the immediate perimeter of the so-called Seine département (Paris and its suburbs). In contrast, in other areas the town took on – or was granted – much more important powers of decision than in the past. As it relinquished power over rivers, Paris actually controlled more water (for more information, see Barles, 2013). As of the Ancien Régime, projects were put forward to divert water to Paris, and led to protests by residents living near the sources concerned (especially the Bièvre). These projects were scrapped during the Revolution, in the name of private property. During the First Empire (1804 to 1814/15), the Ourcq canal generated local opposition, but it was not powerful enough for the project to be abandoned (Graber, 2012). Paris thus appropriated for itself part of the water resources and part of the river system. The Ourcq canal, as well as a strip of land of varying length along its route, belonged to the city. This was not so much a question of control, but of urban extraterritoriality. The process of creating such Parisian extraterritorialities reached its peak under the Second Empire, with the deviation of water sources that led to several legal battles about the ownership of water. In 1854, Belgrand chose the Somme-Soude, a tributary of the Marne in Champagne Pouilleuse (requiring a deviation of 214 km). Faced with strong opposition, he was forced to drop the project. Two major arguments were put forward. One related to the status of running water, which “was part of what belonged to the negative community of humanity, the res communes” (Mathieu, 1862, 12). This status meant that the water could not be expropriated, as it belonged to no-one. The other argument related to the extraterritoriality of the expropriation, since “the water courses in question ran neither through territory belonging to Paris nor to the Seine département” (Mathieu, 1862, 7). These reasons “prohibit[ed] the city from taking control of water courses in Champagne” (Mathieu, 1862, 25). Paris therefore turned to the Dhuis (or Dhuys), a small tributary of the Surmelin, itself a tributary of the Marne, whose source George Haussmann had prudently got the City to buy in July 1859.4 In 1862, a decree declared work on the aqueduct 4 George Eugene Haussman was Prefect of the Seine département (i.e., Paris and its suburbs), under the Second Empire of Napoleon III (1852–1870). He supervised a substantial transformation of the city.

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to be of “public utility” (opening the way for the authorities to buy up land and impose the project on the local community). This generated a new debate. The City astutely stressed that the decree concerned work on the aqueduct and not the deviation of the river itself, and so not the rights of residents, who could otherwise have gone to ad hoc courts had they felt themselves aggrieved by the reduction of water flows. The decree was maintained. More-or-less at the same time, the City of Paris acquired the sources of the Seine, in order to support a local development project: this was a kind of diversionary tactic aimed to show that the City was not just looking to grab water from the countryside. Protests re-ignited a few years after the deviation of the Vanne, even though Paris had been more foresighted, by not only acquiring the 13 sources it was interested in, but also real estate, river mills and factories. The dispute opposed the town of Sens and Paris, up until 1880. But it did not prevent central government from declaring the “public utility” of the project, and work going ahead. In Normandy, the draft project for deviating the Avre and the Vigne was put forward in 1885. But work only began in 1891, once the Law of 5th July 1890 was passed. It limited the City to taking only 1280 l/s and providing compensation to local users. As for the deviation of the Loing and Lunain, the Law of 21st July 1897 stipulated that “the City of Paris will ensure 800 m3 of spring water for the town of Nemours and will offer to provide water to all communes with residents whose sources are deviated; treaties in which the City commits itself to providing them with corresponding volumes of water. It will supply them with masonry structures […] undertaken by the City, at its expense” (Carpentier and Frérejouan Du Saint, 1902, 687). As for storage dams, they were managed by the Technical unit of the Seine prefecture (services techniques de la préfecture de la Seine), up until the 1960s. This administrative unit drew its staff from the City of Paris. As soon as projects were established, the Prefect sent a (modest) request for subsidies to the départements concerned, as a way of translating “solidarity which it is desirable to see emerging between the various beneficiaries of the operation” (Langlois, 2003, 24). The reaction of the départements was fairly unanimous: they all began by expressing great


reservations, and when re-contacted in 1932, they turned down the request for providing any such subsidies: the dams were thus financed by the département of the Seine and by the central government. One of the sites (on the Serein) had to be abandoned in the face of protests by residents: others were maintained despite much opposition. The development of the reservoir at Der-Chantecoq, which absorbed the reservoir at Champaubert-aux-Bois, led to many problems, and in 1955 attracted attention from France's Economic Council (a public, consultative body advising on public policy). After examination, the Council concluded that “if it [were] not possible to eliminate the social consequences of developing the reservoir”, then it was necessary “to reduce the harmful consequences for inhabitants as much as possible”. The Council thus proposed reconstituting farms through the purchase of farms for sale, and through the resettlement farmers “in available farms in France's various regions, especially in the South West” (Conseil économique, 1956, 14). In 1969, these new urban dependencies led to the creation, of the Interdepartmental Institution of Storage Dams of the Seine Basin (IIBRBS — Institution interdépartementale des barrages réservoirs du bassin de la Seine), a government organisation managed by the four départements of the greater Paris conurbation: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne. None of the storage dams, however, are in their territories (Fig. 5). The infrastructures of urban metabolism are thus somewhat foreign to the territories they cross or in which they are located, yet they contribute to transforming vast areas of land, though without always being visible. For example, barrage reservoirs not only retain water (Fig. 6), but affect water catchment areas, which therefore become essentially urban in practice.

5. Conclusion Much more needs to be done to characterise the urban, socioecological regime of the industrial age and the conditions in which it emerged and deployed itself. Nevertheless, the main (though not

Fig. 5. Urban extraterritoriality: the reservoirs (from North to South: Reservoir Marne (Champaubert et Der-Chantecoq), Aube (Temple and Amance), Seine (Orient), Pannecière) and their governing authority (IIBRBS, Institution interdépartementale des barrages réservoirs du bassin de la Seine). Adapted from the map compiled by Sylvain Théry, PIREN-Seine.


S. Barles / Ecological Economics 118 (2015) 177–185

Fig. 6. Urbanisation of the extra-urban landscape: the reservoir Seine (Orient). Photo by Barles (2010).

all) aspects of the Parisian regime can be explained by the triptych made up of: i) the near-total externalisation of the urban metabolism (that was partly externalised before) in the context of growing material and energy flows, associated with the breakup of supply areas and the deepening of urban environmental footprints; ii) the importance of the infrastructural part of the metabolism, which fits into a process of generalised networking developed by engineers and which creates urban technical dependencies; and iii) the urbanisation of landscapes associated with the proliferation of extraterritorial urban influences, despite the loss of certain skills available to towns.

Some of these characteristics may have existed before the industrial era, and in a way they already constituted what the city actually was. Yet the specificity of the socio-ecological regime which is both urban and industrial expresses an amplification of existing characteristics and the emergence of new ones, due to industrialisation. This raises the question of whether Paris's experience also holds for other cities. This seems to be the case in Europe and to a certain extent in North America (see in particular, Billen et al., 2012b). Differences remain however, mainly concerning the pace of transformation, the intensity and scope of the flows in question, as well as the modes of governance of urban metabolism. These relate notably to the respective roles of central government, cities/towns as local governments, and the market. National and local contexts with regard to society and to nature, the place and weight of the cities in question (from all points of view), and the particular circumstances which may affect them can all also have an impact on the trajectory described. Paris consumes a lot of water, but only draws on its own basin, whereas Athens for example takes water from very far away (Stergiouli and Hadjibiros, 2012). Paris takes food from much of the world, but a lot of food still also comes from the Seine basin. In contrast, London drew on imports from distant sources, long before the Industrial Revolution (Galloway, 2012). New York consumes far more energy per capita than does Paris, and has done so for several decades (Kennedy et al., 2015). Such differences need to be identified and understood better, but they do not challenge the overall tendencies. The regime described here has to be questioned. The unsustainable nature of cities is indeed debated and urban metabolism is judged – rightly or wrongly – as having been responsible for numerous social and environmental problems over the last 50 years or more at the local, regional and global scales. The debate has been strongly revived recently by the issue of global climate change (Barles, 2010). Today, certain scientific and political circles are calling for a transition, as witnessed by the Transition towns network (for instance). It is probably via a detailed understanding of the urban socio-ecological regime in the

industrial age and of its material and immaterial legacies, and through the identification of its fundamental characteristics, that thinking about of a new transition will be possible.

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