Take advantage of the black swan to improve the urban environment

  • Antonio Leone Tuscia UniversityDepartment of Sciences and Technology for Agriculture, Forest, Environment and Energy http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7893-4650
  • Pasquale Balena Dipartimento DICATECh, Politecnico di Bari
  • Raffaele Pelorosso Dipartimento DAFNE, Università della Tuscia https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2599-0122


The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus for all humanity is a typical example of the birth of the black swan, a metaphor that indicates the event of very low probability, therefore unpredictable and a source of crisis. Statistics and probability theory teach that any deterministic hypothesis of forecasting this type of event is a chimera. More concretely, it is necessary to pay attention to the resilience of the system, so the goal must be the robustness (and perhaps even anti-fragility) of the socio-ecosystem with respect to any crisis advent, not the pursuit of the specific black swan, which, by the way, takes different forms: from financial perfect storms to pandemics, to the unpredictable effects of climate change etc.

During the nineteenth century Europe was involved in various pandemics, which, among other things, stimulated the birth of regulatory plans and “hygienist” urban planning approach. Similarly, the present bursting of COVID-19 leads to ever greater efforts in the direction of environmental quality, which is also the protection of health.

The paper refers to the health risk due to the urban characteristics, investigating the process of Urban Heat Island (UHI) which is a cause of health risk and of the increase in air pollution, while, at the moment, there is debate about the link between air pollution and COVID-19 diffusion, also if the first scientific papers on this topic seem to confirm the correlation. In any case, the precautionary principle pushes to take the opportunity of the crisis for a more sustainable city in terms of air breathing and wellness.

This paper shows that it is possible to distinguish areas of the city with different UHI-air pollution hazard, according to their shape and land use. These results allow to support the choices of the planners to pursue mitigation of climatic extremes and air pollution, contributing to health of citizens and saving money from the health system.


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Author Biographies

Antonio Leone, Tuscia UniversityDepartment of Sciences and Technology for Agriculture, Forest, Environment and Energy

Full professor of Environmental and Territorial Engineering at the Tuscia University. Degree in Civil Engineering. Member of the Teaching College PhD “Land and Urban Planning” at Politecnico di Bari and “Environment and landscape design and planning” at Sapienza University of Rome. Participant and responsible in several projects financed by the European Union within 5th Framework Programme, Interreg IIIB Research Program, COST-actions, LIFE programme and other national and regional research programs (e.g. Nature 2000 sites). Member of Scientific International Committee for Metropolitan Strategic Master Plan “Terra di Bari”. Author of about 150 papers and scientific articles on the main international journals related to the management of the environment and landscape and to the engineering of the territory, for the most part of which he also carries out the activity of an anonymous reviewer.

Pasquale Balena, Dipartimento DICATECh, Politecnico di Bari

PhD and technician in charge of the Urban Planning Laboratory of the Department DICATECh of Polytechnic of Bari where he carries out his research work on land use planning and remote sensing.

Raffaele Pelorosso, Dipartimento DAFNE, Università della Tuscia

Qualified as Associate Professor by National Scientific Qualification, in Urban and landscape planning and design (Disciplinary Sector 08/F1). Dr. Pelorosso has hold several Lectures in ecology, cartography, environmental and urban planning at the Tuscia University. Main research interests: urban storm water management and climate regulation by NBS; Low-Entropy Cities; planning of energy systems; landscape perception assessment and participatory planning; landscape dynamics assessment by historical maps and remote sensing data; management of abandoned; impact of agriculture on the water resources; urban green infrastructure connectivity. He is authors of more than 90 scientific works and peer reviewer for many international journals as: Land Use Policy, Landscape and Urban Planning, Environmental Management, European Planning studies, Habitat international, Sustainability.


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How to Cite
Leone, A., Balena, P., & Pelorosso, R. (2020). Take advantage of the black swan to improve the urban environment. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 247-259. https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/6851
Special Issue - Covid-19 vs City-20