This study introduces risk theory of environmental science into human settlement science using 2004–2013 statistics, remote sensing data, and thematic maps. The entropy weight method and risk-index model are both used to study the characteristics of the time course and spatial pattern of[...] Read more.
This study introduces risk theory of environmental science into human settlement science using 2004–2013 statistics, remote sensing data, and thematic maps. The entropy weight method and risk-index model are both used to study the characteristics of the time course and spatial pattern of human settlement risk in 31 provincial regions in China. In addition, influential mechanisms of vulnerability, functionality, stress, and adaptability on environmental risks are analyzed. Three primary results are obtained. First, for temporal characteristics, environmental risks of human settlements increased significantly from 2003 to 2012. The year 2006 marked both a sudden change and the cut-off point after which human settlements in China experienced qualitative changes and new risks. Second, for spatial characteristics, the risk index of human settlements decreased gradually from the southwestern to the northeastern, northwestern, and northern parts of China. The risk index of human settlement spaces differed significantly, with obvious block aggregation of spatial-distribution characteristics. Third, for relevant factor characteristics, between 2003 and 2012, the temporal change in vulnerability is relatively stable, with a slight increase in functionality and a slight decrease in adaptability. Spatially, Qinghai, Tibet, southwestern China, Guangdong, Guangxi, Beijing, and Tianjin had relatively high vulnerability in human settlements; Beijing, Tianjin, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang had the best functionality; Hunan and Sichuan had relatively high stress; and Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang had relatively stronger adaptability. Further consideration and discussion are required on the environmental risks for different social groups and at different geographical scales, as well as on the uncertainty and long-term features of environmental risks in addition to environmental justice issues.