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The last few decades have witnessed a sharp rise in the number of motor vehicles and the urbanization process, occasioning serious issues related to social and environmental changes. The concept of immense use of automobiles, which goes hand in hand with increase in the number and size of cities, is well known as urban sprawl and motorization.
It is pertinent to note that there are numerous strategies that can be used to solve the social and environmental concerns resulting from urban sprawl and urbanization. To this end, the focus of this essay is to explore three concerns raised by urban sprawl and motorization, before discussing two approaches that can be used to address these concerns. The three problems to be analyzed in this essay include the challenge of climate change, destruction of agricultural lands, and harm on human health.
A lot of emissions have been released into the environment due to urbanization and increase in use of automobiles. This has contributed to climate change. While there exists numerous ways of addressing climate change, this paper will consider the concept of raising energy costs and managing lands in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Raising energy costs is bound to negatively affect sprawling of cities and use of automobiles. To be specific, increase in energy costs would promote proliferation of crowded communities since construction of spacious housing facilities in the peri-urban areas would hardly take place.
The resultant crowded and small housing units would spur the need for cheap public transportation means to serve the high population. Regarding proper management of environmentally important land, this is an effective method of addressing environmental degradation; if environmentally sensitive lands were to be managed well, it would be possible to adopt modernization without compromising the environment.
To be specific, sprawled areas would have residential and working areas close to each other. This would eliminate the need to use automobiles to commute to and from work, and instead adopt environmental friendlier transport modes such as cycling and walking.
Depletion of agricultural lands
The widespread use of cars has led to serious encroachment of agricultural lands in sprawled areas. This problem can be addressed by limiting the extent to which urban centers can spread. This would eventually lead to preservation of rural areas. The State of Oregon is a classic model where farmlands can be guarded against the effects of urban sprawling and motorization. This can be done by formulating policies that prohibit expansion of urban centers into farmlands.
Instead, only specified farmlands should be allowed to have urban sprawl. Cuba has successfully limited the encroachment of farmlands by setting up community gardens. In a nutshell, while limiting urban sprawl can be an effective means of preserving agricultural lands, having restricted farmlands, as well as coming up with community gardens would achieve more success in preventing the loss of agricultural lands to urban sprawl and motorization.
Effect on human health
Air pollution resulting from motorization and sprawled areas is a significant risk on human health. Other than air pollution, traffic jams and depletion of ozone layer also affect human health in a negative way. Air pollution due to emissions from automobiles has led to an increase in respiratory illnesses and respiratory-related diseases.
On the other hand, traffic jam causes serious stress in sprawled areas, thus affecting the mental health of dwellers in a negative way. These two problems, traffic jams and air pollution, can be addressed by using and sharing bikes. Paris is one of the many cities in Europe that use the bike share system as a way of addressing these two problems.
Business operators are also encouraged to start up businesses near transport stops, such as the case of Portland where the government of Oregon encouraged entrepreneurs to set up businesses in close proximity to transport stops. The bike share system would see users attain healthier lifestyles, while air pollution from private cars would be best prevented by setting up businesses around transport stops. In addition, residents of sprawled areas would be drawn to make use of public transport in place of private vehicles.
Many developed countries are grappling with the challenge of climate change, yet there are many solutions that can be implemented to deal with such challenges. For instance, climate change due to urban sprawl and motorization can be tackled by raising energy costs and managing environmentally sensitive lands efficiently.
Farmlands can be conserved and protected from expansion of cities and increased use of automobiles by setting up community gardens and setting aside areas that can be used for urban expansion, while preserving farmlands. Evidently, human health is negatively affected by air pollution from automobiles and stress emanating from traffic congestion.
These two challenges can be tackled by adopting a bike share system, which also gives the benefit of attaining better health. Public transport should also be encouraged, instead of using private cars, by setting up businesses around transport stops. It is no doubt that citizens are bound to benefit immensely by following the above proposed solutions in addressing the effects of urban sprawl and motorization.