The New York Times yesterday featured a compelling story about the devastation wrought by the mortgage industry and the housing boom – frenetic home construction in farm fields, feverish real-estate speculation, then plummeting home values, foreclosures, layoffs, hunger, vacancy and despair.
But there is a missing element to the story: the environmental carnage wrought by the housing bubble and suburban sprawl.
The story, “Florida’s Crossroads of Foreclosure and Despair,” describes how a vast swath of farmland, four times the size of Manhattan, was quickly converted to blacktop and cookie-cutter subdivisions, between 2004 and 2006, as 13,183 homes were raised in Lehigh Acres, Fla. The human catastrophe of this overbuilding and then crash is vividly illustrated by the article.
But what about the countryside that was ripped apart for this madness? What about all the polluted runoff from this orgy of building? The credit pushers used our natural world as the raw material they could chew up to feed their greed.
This story has relevance for our Chesapeake Bay region, as well. Bay Daily believes there is a connection between the housing boom of the last decade and the erosion of water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.