| || Like an electronic circuit board, the «bandages» on this old road weave a pattern on the tarmac, their smooth, dark bands reflecting the light. Applied to repair cracks in the road surface, they bear witness to a long, hard life at the mercy of car tires. In the United States, the expansion of urban areas is not a recent phenomenon—but it is not over yet, either. Expansion is even speeding up as the population grows and the middle classes move to the residential suburbs. Thus cities continue to stretch out their tentacles, eating up almost 3,600 square miles (9,320 k 2 ) of farmland each year. Worldwide, they gnaw into countryside, but they also wipe out any forests and wetlands that stand in their way. Their growth is a threat to both biodiversity and air quality. The building of higher-density neighborhoods, however, along with downtown revitalization of city centers that are often decaying and inhabited by the poor, can help limit the impact of urban growth on the environment while also encouraging a more diverse social mix.
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