The Issue of Urban Development
The utilization of land and urban development are a topic of great environmental importance and concern, as these are issues that affect us all in a myriad of ways. In order to counteract this problem we must implement sustainable systems of development that are not destructive to humanity and the environment (Clean Water Action Council, n. d. ). Urban sprawl is defined as the unrestrained and impromptu augmentation of a cities development in the outer lying vicinity, occurring in smaller amounts of people than in the past (Planning Portal Glossary, 2009).
Conventional cities were condensed and resourceful, over the past 30-50 years however, the compactness of land that is used between each individual has significantly worsened and decayed. Even though the population in the United States had increased between 1982-1997, developed terrain enlarged by 47% throughout that same time period. The urbanized land for each person has virtually doubled twofold over the past 20 years, and parcels of land that exceed 10 acres have been responsible for 55% of the acreage developed since 1994 (Clean Water Action Council, n. d. ).
For many reasons, I feel this poses a considerable impact to our ecosystem. Today it is ascertained and believed that there are many factors that contribute to the increasing environmental problems we are facing, such as: increased population, inattention to stewardship and inattentive consumer lifestyles. I feel that the impact of urban sprawl is associated with each of these facts as it has vastly contributed to the high rate of congestion in the superb areas of cities, it accounts for high levels of consumer inattention as well as an amplified disregard to stewardship.
The insurmountable change within the urbanized regions has not only created increased environmental dilemmas, but it has also generated major time and financial difficulties for the citizens of the world. Urban development drastically affects our farmlands as they are eradicated to make way for industrial parks, new highways, and the creation of unremitting networks of housing developments. The decrease in farmlands inhibits human ability to manufacture materials, food and lumber.
The increased tax burden and fees that are coupled with urbanization are leaving farmers no other choice than to shut down their farms and sell their land to housing development companies in order to maintain financial stability. The augmented rate of urban development is taking place on the global level. An example would be the state of Wisconsin, which has been severely affected due to the onset of urban sprawl. In 1950 Wisconsin had an estimated 23. 6 million acres of farmland, this diminished to around 16 million by 2002.
A side effect of this crisis resulted in the decline of farms nationwide, from 178, 000 in 1910; to 77, 000 as of 2002. Altogether, over 13. 7 million acres of farmland have been transformed into urban developed districts throughout our country (Clean Water Action Council, n. d. ). As forests, meadows and marshlands are fading and being replaced by roads, housing structures and urban settings, animal species are also being put at risk as their habitats are being destroyed.
This makes it extremely hard for wildlife to obtain the appropriate reproduction ponds, feeding sites, hibernation areas, and hinders their ability to engender sensible nesting locations. The loss of habitat areas also encumbers or eliminates the growth and reproduction of many species of plants (Terris, 1999). An example is the oak savanna, which has become so uncommon that fewer than 500 acres is recorded in the Natural Heritage Register, which is less than 0. 01% of the original 5. million acres (Clean Water Action Council, n. d. ). Urban sprawl also contributes immensely to contaminated air and water due to pollution, along with burgeoning water and energy use. As people have no other alternative than to drive their automobiles to get to their destinations, increased use of vehicles in turn contributes significantly to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Vehicle contamination is the main contributor of pollution levels in the developed cities.
A combination of urban development and pollution, leads to an increase in temperature, along with larger amounts of humidity, which then amplify the effects of greenhouse gases (Clean Water Action Council, n. d. ). There is no easy way to counteract and curb the issue of urban sprawl, but there are certain steps if implemented en mass that can help to curtail this very real problem. Urban development is more often driven by inadequate planning among regional and local regimes.
A system known as ‘smart growth’ promotes the reduction of urbanization by repairing dilapidated urban neighborhoods, constructing new and improved communities that are located closer to cities, and by protecting undeveloped land from the destruction of urban development (Hoyt, 1998-2009). An organization called the ‘Sierra Club’ suggests and recommends numerous ideas to assist in reducing urban sprawl, such as: investing in alternative transportation means that are not destructive to the environment, and offering other sources of transportation for example: cycling and walking.
They also propose group meetings to find additional means of transportation, and to discuss environmental issues and land-use strategies for the future. The Sierra Club pushes for reasonably priced housing for families that is located in close range to job networks and public transportation; they also ask that developers be made to pay for the public service costs incurred by urban development (Hoyt, 1998-2009). Numerous states are already pursuing measures to counteract urbanization.
For instance, Tennessee requires that each of their metropolises recognize the urban development growth restrictions. In other states, tax incentives are being offered to promote and sponsor the donation of land by rural landowners to either the state in which it is located, or to preservation institutes. We as individuals must maintain a fixed and unconditional interest in this matter, if we even hope to curb the horrendous effects thus far, due to heightened and continuous urban development. No matter the position one assumes in this matter, it demands close inspection by everyone concerned.
Are housing networks a sufficient trade for the disarticulation of our wildlife and environment? I believe that no rational person would ever concur with this often irreversible trade off. We can only hope that a sensible and achievable position can be agreed upon before it is too late (Hoyt, 1998-2009). Our environment is a fragile mosaic of many varied ecosystems. As urban sprawl begins to encroach on these sensitive areas we will all eventually pay the price. We must be better stewards of this earth and its natural resources. After all it is the only earth we have.
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