Did you know that urban sprawl is claiming farmland at a rate of 1.2 million acres a year? Yes, a year. Urban sprawl is caused by the rapid, unplanned expansion of cities – causing individuals to move further out of town. Though some would say that urban sprawl can be beneficial, it has been shown to have many negative consequences for residents and the environment.
New Age Sprawl:
Urban sprawl began with the baby boomer generation. People wanting detached houses and a beautiful, fenced-in yard – headed out of town in search of the American Dream. Urban sprawl is the migration of a population from populated towns and cities, to low-density residential developments in outlying rural land. But what effect does the American Dream have on the environment? Urban sprawl has been shown to increase air and water pollution, further the loss of agricultural land and natural habitats for wildlife, and to be detrimental to our health.
Facts on Urban Sprawl:
- 70% of prime or unique farmland is now in the path of rapid development.
- Urban sprawl and intensive agriculture and forestry encroach on wildlife and plant habitats.
- Each year, more than 100,000 acres of wetlands – which are nature’s water filters, capable of removing up to 90% of the pollutants in water, are destroyed – due in large part to urban sprawl.
- Urban sprawl can create water distribution issues and lead to water over-consumption; as more water is consumed for lawn watering and other landscape activities.
- The average American spends 443 hours per year in a car. In cities with urban sprawl, the average time spent in a car is increasing substantially; thus creating more greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from urban dwellers than from those living in the city.
- A Smart Growth America study compared the county sprawl index to the health characteristics of more than 200,000 individuals living in 448 counties; finding that people living in counties marked by sprawling development are likely to walk and bike less, weigh more, drive more, have a higher body mass index, and suffer more from hypertension and chronic illnesses than people who live in less sprawling counties.
How can I make an impact?
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Reassess your dream. Have you always wanted a big house in the suburbs? Make a list of the pros and cons for living in the sprawl – and don’t forget to include the environmental impacts.
- Educate your friends and family on the environmental detriment caused by urban sprawl.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1.
- Invest in your neighborhood. Instead of looking elsewhere to live – look at ways you can make your own community better. By coming together as a community, people feel more connected to where they live and tend to stay.
- Many times people focus on what is lacking within a community, but in turn, could focus on what to add to the community to uplift it.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Actions 1 & 2.
- Support local and global agendas that preserve natural resources and parks. The more land that’s protected – the less that’s available for sprawl.
- Choose to be an Ambassador for Change, and always Spread Love and Spread Light.