Urban sprawl, the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas, has slowed down by 9% since the 1990s (Borenstein). Urban sprawl was steadily increasing starting in 1920 due to new street construction and it peaked in 1994. Despite the belief that urban sprawl is the result of a healthy economic and social process, urban sprawl needs to be restricted and eventually stopped. Urban sprawl is rapidly expanding, destroying wildlife, and causing a rise in pollution and disease. Urban sprawl has come to be fairly recently.
Some possible causes for urban sprawl are immigration and population growth. Specifically America, a nation of immigrants, has problems with immigration. As a country’s population grows, it is reasonable for the cities to grow as well. Unfortunately, when this trend started, city planners did not keep things proportional. Land use got out of hand, and fast. Urban sprawl is still expanding. Although sprawl has had a large decrease, almost 9% after it peaked in the early 90’s, urban sprawl is still expanding in many places throughout the United States, and especially close to home.
Sprawl is evident in Farmington, the city’s population of 12,000 is expected to almost triple by 2020 (Gottfried) due to urban sprawl. Minnesota is not the worst state about urban sprawl, but it also is not the best, “The Twin cities is the 38th most sprawling metro area of 83 regions studied” (Gottfried). The Twin Cities has been Hagen 2 trying to take measures to slow sprawl and get a better ranking among those regions studied. Minnesotan farms are still very much at risk though, as farms are still being taken over at an alarming rate, “400,000 acres of farmland are consumed by urban sprawl development each year” (Paul).
In Prior Lake the first hand the effects of sprawl can be observed, such as five houses being built in a month. These developments are still spreading and need to be stopped. Urban sprawl is destroying wildlife and farmland. This is perhaps the most detrimental effect of sprawl due to its repercussions concerning our nation’s ability to sustain itself, “If [sprawl] continues, this loss will damage the nation’s ability to export large amounts of foodstuffs or even feed itself” (Paul). Developments are often built upon old farmland, bought by developers, therefore the United State is slowly losing farms.
These effects do not stop at sustainability though. Many researchers have found that sprawl is harming our wildlife and waterways, “Sprawl is threatening almost every stream in the country” (Battiata). These researchers have concluded that areas with more sprawl have worse waterways because of the large amount of poor planning and placing of storm drains. This paired with the fact that most people believe that storm drains go directly to water treatment facilities, and not streams and rivers, is causing high water pollutions due to litter (Battiata).
Even though sprawl threatens our farmland and wildlife not many measures have been taken to stop it. Many studies have proven that sprawl is indeed still a very large problem. Urban sprawl is causing a rise in pollution and disease. Research has shown that because suburban areas are becoming more crowded, traffic is becoming a bigger problem. This traffic in suburban areas leads to more harmful gases being emitted in these suburbs, “Sprawl contributes Hagen 3 to more driving and more pollution, especially heat trapping gases” (Borenstein).
Air pollution, along with sedentary, cardominated lifestyles are very harmful to human beings and has been know to increase chances of hypertension, arthritis, headaches, breathing difficulties, and other chronic health problems like obesity (Wilson). Because of these numerous health problems that can come along with living in the suburbs, people who live in them are known to not be as healthy as their city dwelling counterparts, “Findings suggest that an adult who lives in a more sprawling urban area will have a health profile similar to someone four years older who lives in a more compact city” (Wilson).
Sprawl has contributed to a sedentary lifestyle among many adults, increasing their risk of obesity and other serious diseases like colon cancer and diabetes (Maloney). Scientists have discovered that American obesity is at an all time high, although private transportation is not the only reason; it definitely is an attribute of America’s sedentary life. Fast food is a huge cause for this obesity. People spend long hours driving from work, do not have time to got out and buy healthy food and cook themselves a healthy meal. A study by Reid Ewing, a professor at the University of Maryland examined more than 200,000 people living in various U. S. metropolitan areas.
To study the impact of sprawl on health, Ewing and his research team created a sprawl index to assess the 448 jurisdictions around metropolitan centers, covering about two-thirds of the U. S. population (Libit). Ewing found that people in the counties most impacted by sprawl walked less and had higher obesity rates than residents of counties with less sprawl. Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart problems and breathing problems such as asthma (Libit). the risk of obesity for the people living in counties with more sprawl goes up by half a percent.
This half Hagen 4 percent seems small and insignificant, but with millions of people living in these counties the half percent at risk of these major health problems, along with the loss of farmland and the fact that researchers have concluded that urban sprawl is rapidly expanding, should be enough reason to stop sprawl. A way to decrease sprawl is to embrace ‘new urbanization’ which includes denser housing than the sprawling suburbs allow, a mixture of housing types in a single development; such as apartments, townhouses, and houses all on one block, narrower streets and homes near stores (Naudi).
These additions to modern day cities would decrease traffic, as stores would be closer. It would also help decrease the obesity problem sprawl suburbs have because more people would be able to walk or bike to their workplace and stores. Despite the belief that urban sprawl is the result of a healthy economic and social process, urban sprawl needs to be restricted and eventually stopped using modern urbanization methods that create dense neighborhoods that are not one zone.
Urban sprawl is destroying wildlife, rapidly expanding, and causing a rise in pollution and disease. If people keep in mind all these detrimental effects of urban sprawl more people will want to start taking a stand against it and get laws and such passed to help slow, and stop sprawl. We all have to work together and acknowledge this huge problem our country, and the world, is facing and we might be able to stop these effects before it is too late.