Urban Sprawl, a Vision From Space!

Urban Sprawl has a major impact on all our Resources!

Urban Sprawl can be tracked

Urban Sprawl can be tracked

In the Sun Belt Areas of our country, phenomenal growth has occurred over the past 30 years.  Satellite images from 1984 through 2012 show the impacts on the Landscape in a time lapse image that is a scary picture of what the next 30 years may bring.

A blog article from the Atlantic Cities website forwarded to me by my friend Dave H. Is a geographic time lapse of satellite images provided by Google.  Their article titled  “The Devastating Impact of 30 Years of Sprawl, as Seen From Space.” gives startling images of how our cities have grown.

“These GIFs were recorded from Google’s “Landsat Annual Time Lapse” tool by Samuel Aston Williams, a young Texas architect. Williams wanted to contribute something new to a startling series of showing three decades of human-landscape intervention recently produced by a collaboration of Google, NASA, TIME and others.”

For the full article;


The Atlantic Cities also published a blog titled “A Terrifying, Fascinating Time lapse of 30 Years Impact on Earth.”  The images in this blog shows development in other places on the earth in a scary 30 year blink of an eye.

“Since the 1970s, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey have been amassing satellite images of every inch of our planet as part of the Landsat program. Over time, the images reveal a record of change: of cities expanding, lakes and forests disappearing, new islands emerging from the sea off the coast of rising Middle East metropolises like Dubai.

If you could thumb through these historic pictures as if in a flip book, they would show stunning change across the earth’s surface, in both our natural environments and our man-made ones. Now, the digital equivalent of that experience is possible – three decades of global change as GIF – in a project unveiled today between NASA, the USGS, TIME, Google, and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

Landsat images taken between 1984 and 2012 have been converted into a seamless, navigable animation built from millions of satellite photos. As Google wrote this morning on its blog: “We believe this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public.”

See the time lapse images at;


Here’s the Problem!

World Population Growth.

Our Population is only going to Grow Larger!

Our Population is only going to Grow Larger!


NASA has also been Following Urban Sprawl

This is how Baltimore has grown in 200 Years!

This is how Baltimore has grown in 200 Years!

October 11, 2002:  While space technology was undergoing its spectacular birth during the 1950s and ’60s, and visionaries were predicting the spread of human colonies into space, another kind of human colony was spreading rapidly–right here on Earth!

It was the dawn of the modern suburb, a time of post-war prosperity when housing developments popped up across the landscape like mushrooms after a rain.

A half-century later, we now understand that many environmental problems accompany the outward spread of cities: fragmenting and destroying wildlife habitat, for example, and discharging polluted runoff water into streams and lakes.”


Urban Sprawl in the United States is covered in Photos by Christoph Gielen

The photo below was taken by Christoph Gielen.  There is a symmetrical beauty to his aerial photos of Urban Areas.  Please go to his Twisted Sifter website for phenomenal aerial photos of our Urban Centers.

A Great Aerial photo by Christoph Gielen of an Arizona Neighborhood

A Great Aerial photo by Christoph Gielen of an Arizona Neighborhood


Urban Sprawl is defined in detail at the Wiki website;

An interesting phenomena is that Sprawl is a term only used in America for Urban Growth,  “The term “sprawl” is most often associated with US land use; outside the US (and especially outside the Anglosphere), the term “peri-urbanisation” is often used to denote similar dynamics and phenomena.”


Urban Sprawl and Public Health?

Smart Growth is the alternative to Urban Sprawl,  unfortunately many people argue against high density living and it is still a contentious point.  Do we continue to grow outward or upward.  Will we feel more like rats trapped in a cage or free range rats?…Read the following National Institute of Health article for their take on the impacts of Urban Sprawl vs. Smart Growth.

Urban Sprawl

“Urban sprawl in the United States has its origins in the flight to the suburbs that began in the 1950s. People wanted to live outside of city centers to avoid traffic, noise, crime, and other problems, and to have homes with more square footage and yard space. As suburban areas developed, cities expanded in geographic size faster than they grew in population. This trend has produced large metropolitan areas with low population densities, interconnected by roads. Residents of sprawling cities tend to live in single-family homes and commute to work, school, or other activities by automobile.”

“Although there is considerable evidence that urban sprawl has adverse environmental impacts and contributes to a variety of health problems—including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease implementation of policies designed to combat sprawl, such as smart growth, has proven to be difficult.”

Smart Growth

“Smart growth can be defined as a policy framework that promotes an urban development pattern characterized by high population density, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, preserved green spaces, mixed-use development (i.e., development projects that include both residential and commercial uses), available mass transit, and limited road construction.”


From Wiki these are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Urban Sprawl


– More single family residences on larger lots.
– Lower land prices.
– Less experience of noise and pollution.
– Suburban areas generally associated with “sprawl” tend to have lower crime and higher-quality schools.
– Perceived overwhelming consumer preference for sprawl-type developments.


– High car dependence.
– Inadequate facilities e.g.: cultural, emergency, health, etc.
– Higher per-person infrastructure costs.
– Inefficient street layouts.
– Low diversity of housing and business types.
– Higher per-capita use of energy, land, and water.
– Perceived low aesthetic value

Source: Wikipedia

Our Human Colonies seem to be spreading about as fast as our ice caps are melting.  I wonder if there is any correlation?

Is it time for mankind to adapt to a new future?  No, it’s past time.  We have a lot of catching up to do in implementing new technologies to provide sustainable growth options in all areas; industry, transportation, energy production, carbon footprints, food supply, to taking care of our precious fresh water supplies.

How do we make our cities more sustainable and resilient?  Start with telling your national, state and local politicians that you want a sustainable future.  Let’s work together and make this happen.

Urban Sprawl or Smart Growth, your choice!

Make your world Sustainable!

Make your world Sustainable!


About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Overpopulation, Political Action, Urban Sprawl, World Population and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Urban Sprawl, a Vision From Space!

  1. Pingback: Down here, from up there! | Learning from Dogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s