Urban Sprawl and Development

The fringes of urban centers have been eating up neighboring rural land, and causing a radical transformation in the management of a metropolitan area, or a big industrialized city. Initially, it was considered a healthy sign of development. Urban sprawl, in simple terms, comprises heavy migration of a population, land use, increased transportation along with economic and social development. These sparsely populated areas have become a regular feature of city development across the globe and also a big headache in most of the cases.

They do offer an attractive pattern of development. For example, in America the growth of an urban sprawl was associated with the fulfillment of the ‘Great American Dream’ where people dreamed of living in single-family homes with all the modern amenities. All this was coupled with an easy access to the vibrant and bustling local business districts and professional avenues. A thriving population is the biggest contributor to a country’s growth. Better living conditions influenced a large part of the civic life to develop and assimilate the benefits of modern life. But there have been several grave consequences of this trend in the human development. They are as follows:
Economic Problems: Modern colonies include a dense living infrastructure. Better housing, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, an improved transport system and other civic amenities have resulted in large-scale government expenditure. Consequently, heavy taxes are paid by the people, who are already reeling under heavy inflation.
Environmental Issues: The dependence on automobiles has degraded the quality of the surroundings, causing environmental pollution. Due to spread out societies, there is a frequent need of vehicles for commuting large distances. Some cities have seen an increase of over 10 times in the number of vehicles plying on their roads in the last 3 to 4 years. Rampant use of automobiles has resulted in severe air pollution leading to grave ailments and decreasing health standards. There is a severe strain on water resources due to wastage, lower ground water levels, leaks, soil erosion, and the requirement in urban activities like construction, etc. Noise pollution is another big nuisance in such an infrastructure. Automobiles, airplanes, and noisy activities, are a characteristic feature of an urban sprawl, which give rise to grave health problems like stress, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
Impact on Lifestyle and Society: People living in such a locality have generic houses, busy schedule, small families, and a secluded lifestyle. Therefore, the social development has received a setback. Neighborhoods with big porches, schools, religious places and shops just a few blocks away, encouraged social interactions which led to a peaceful, happy, and content society. The age-old concepts of a feeling of belonging or community welfare have eluded modern cities. There is less space and time for exercise and healthy living activities, leading to a faster aging and ailing population. In certain places, it has resulted in the creation of slum dwellings, rising discord between different economic classes of society, and increased criminal activities. Choosing urban lifestyle against rural living, is a fading option for many people.
Effects on Flora and Fauna: The loss of agricultural land for rapid growth in infrastructure is the single largest negative impact and the depletion of cultivable land has affected agricultural production. For instance, in America alone, almost 14 million acres of farmland was converted into non-farming areas between 1992 and 1997. This was a 51% increase in the rate of conversion from the previous decade, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Similarly, forests, wetlands, and wild bushes which were an integral part of a region’s natural features have almost disappeared and are being replaced by buildings, industrial zones, and the ever-increasing urban population. All these factors have made us susceptible to nature’s fury like frequent floods and storms, global warming, or a human-wildlife confrontation resulting in losses on both sides.
Despite all these concerns, people throughout the world find urban life more productive and enriching. There is still a huge scope for development, especially in the new cities. According to experts, at this crucial stage, the world must focus on planned and environment-friendly development. Our efforts should be directed at an organized and structured setup for cities with no or minimum impact on the surroundings and strain on vital resources.

Urban life is a beautiful creation of our quest for a more prosperous society but its growth should always be in harmony with our ecosystem, so that we can hope for a better future.

Our Society: Technology and Instant Gratification

“I hate traffic.”, “What is the hold up, here?”, “I just cannot wait.”, “Don’t put me on hold!”, etc. Do any of these seem familiar to you? No one likes to wait these days. No matter what it is that they have to wait for, it seems that people just can’t wait. As the human race, we are always looking to better ourselves, to make things easier and faster so that we eventually have to do less on our own. Over the past years, we have developed several new ways to travel, communicate, and entertain ourselves. It is both, a fantastic and terrible thing, that technology has brought us such conveniences.

What is so wrong with technology?
We have become a lazy society. We don’t have to cook, because we can grab food from a restaurant, or better yet, have it delivered. If not, we can always heat up a frozen meal in the microwave. Some people use their cars to travel a distance of two blocks so that they don’t have to walk. The television is often the babysitter. There are too many people who can’t cook, don’t get any exercise, and don’t spare time to teach and discipline their children.

We have also become an unhealthy society. While we might be one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, we do not rank high in health. The top five healthiest countries are Japan, France, Iceland, Sweden, and Cuba. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are killing the health of our nation, and technology is a major contributor to these factors.

It is not that there is a problem with technology itself, but it’s the abuse of that convenience.
The use of cell phones while driving has caused tons of accidents, yet so many continue to do it everyday. If many of those people are honest with themselves, it is not that they don’t have time to talk later; it’s that they just can’t wait. Teenagers text each other during class, and fill their heads with popular music in the hallways. It is not only distracting students from learning, but it feeds their need for instant gratification.

Abuse of convenience in case of credit cards is just that you can’t wait to earn enough money to buy things. The debt system is such a common pitfall. It drives us to work more, which causes more stress, giving rise to anxiety, in turn making us want to rush around and do everything super-fast. Do you see the cycle that impatience is causing?

How can we overcome the ill-effects of technology?
Remember that good things come to those who wait. If you can discipline yourself not to get so angry and frustrated when things don’t happen quite as quickly as you like, you will find yourself happier. Make the most of the waiting period. Look at it this way, maybe you aren’t exactly where you want to be, but you could be avoiding an accident that you didn’t know would happen. Sometimes unexpected delays can save our lives.

Take some time away from technology. Turn off your cell phone once in a while. Go for quiet walks on your own. Make something with your own hands. Cook a meal from scratch. Coming back down to the natural earth without all the wires, computer chips, rings, and beeps can keep you grounded, and reduce your stress. This shall show magnanimous benefits for your health.

Good health is worth waiting for, isn’t it? Enjoy the moments that you have, because life is too short to rush through everything. Take advantage of your free time, otherwise you will lose it.