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, urban sprawl has many negative consequences for residents and the environment.
New Age Sprawl:
The urban sprawl began with the baby boom generation. People wanting detached houses and a beautifully fenced 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 development in outlying rural land. But what effects does the American Dream have on the environment? Urban sprawl has shown to increase air and water pollution, loss of agricultural land, loss of habitat for wildlife, and has been shown to be detrimental to health. Let’s take a look at some facts about urban sprawl.
Facts on Urban Sprawl:
- Sprawl is claiming farmland at a rate of 1.2 million acres, a year.
- 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, 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 the car. In cities with urban sprawl the average time in the car is increasing substantially. Thus, creating more greenhouse gas emission and pollution than 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 and found 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 include the environmental impacts.
- Educate your friends and family on the 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 they are lacking in a community and in turn could focus on what to add to the community to uplift it.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Support local and global agendas that preserve natural resources and parks. The more land the government protects, the less areas that are available for sprawl.