land use, exploitation of land for agricultural, industrial, residential, recreational, or other purposes. Because the United States historically has a laissez-faire attitude toward land use, the land has been exploited at will for economic gain. Only in recent decades have Americans realized that land is not a limitless commodity. Increasing population and industrial expansion have generated urban sprawl, with thousands of square miles of open space being taken over annually for housing and business. As a result congestion and widespread pollution, along with depletion of water and mineral resources and destruction of wilderness and wildlife habitats, have become increasingly severe (see also environmentalism).
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