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Visual Pollution Essay

Visual Pollution





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Visual pollution is an aesthetic issue, referring to the impacts of pollution that impair one's ability to enjoy a vista or view. The term is used broadly to cover visibility, limits on the ability to view distant objects, as well as the more subjective issue of visual clutter, structures that intrude upon otherwise "pretty" scenes, as well as graffiti and other visual defacement.

Visibility is a measure of how far and how well people can see into the distance. Haze obscures visibility. It is caused when light is absorbed or scattered by pollution particles such as sulfates, nitrates, organic carbon compounds, soot, and soil dust. Nitrogen dioxide and other pollution gases also contribute to haze. Haze increases with summer humidity because sulfate and other particles absorb moisture and increase in size. The larger the particles, the more light they scatter.

Haze is most dramatically seen as a brownish-grey cloud hovering over cities, but it also obscures many beautiful vistas in U.S. national parks. At Acadia National Park in Maine, visual range on a clear day can be 199 miles. On a hazy day, that can be reduced to 30 miles. At its worst, haze at Grand Canyon National Park was so severe that people could not see across the 10-mile wide canyon. An enormous coal-fired electric plant, the Navajo Power Generating Station, about 80 miles north of the Grand Canyon, was thought to be the source of the pollution causing canyon haze. In 1985 researchers at Colorado State University injected methane-containing deuterium into the power plant's smoke emissions. Deuterium is not normally present in the air. When monitors determined the presence of deuterium in canyon air, researchers were able to demonstrate that the plant was responsible for much of the canyon haze. The result was a landmark settlement in which Navajo's owners agreed to a 90-percent cutback in sulfur dioxide emissions by 1999.

Utility boilers and vehicular emissions are both major sources of haze-causing pollution. The haze problem is greatest on the east coast of the United States because of the higher levels of pollution and humidity in that region. The pollution that causes haze can travel thousands of miles, and improving regional visibility requires interstate cooperation. Wood smoke is a contributor in the west, and forest fire smoke and windblown dust are natural sources of haze.

The pollutants that cause haze are also a health concern because they often result in respiratory problems among humans and other species. Controls designed to reduce the pollution from vehicular and smokestack emissions will also reduce visual pollution. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued regional haze regulations that call on

The top of a ninety-five-foot-tall wireless phone antenna made to look like a cypress tree, blending with the other cypress trees in a Metairie, Louisiana, neighborhood. (

AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.

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The Los Angeles skyline with mountain peaks visible in the background. (

© Mark L. Stephenson/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

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states to establish goals and strategies and to work together in regional groups to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas.

In Southeast Asia, haze caused by massive forest fires cost billions of dollars in health care and lost tourist revenue in the last decade. Fires in Sumatra and Borneo affected not only Indonesia, but also Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Most fires were set deliberately, and often illegally, to clear land for planting and development and to cover up illegal logging. Some of the fires spread to peat deposits beneath the forest, and these may continue to burn for years.

Visual blight—billboards, power lines, cell towers, even ugly buildings—is literally in the eye of the beholder. It is subjective. To the businessman, a well-placed billboard may be a thing of beauty. But to the traveler whose view of the rolling hills or the rustic village is obstructed, it is visual pollution.

Billboards proliferated in the 1940s and 1950s, spurred by the growth of automobile traffic and construction of interstate highway system, but in 1965 Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson, attacked their growing presence on our nation's roadways. "Ugliness is so grim," the first lady proclaimed, and she fought for and won passage of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. This groundbreaking law prompted a number of states, including Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont, to ban billboards totally; there were loopholes, however.

Sensitivity to visual pollution has led utility companies to bury power and telephone lines in some communities. The latest fight against visual pollution centers on cell towers, needed to provide cellular telephone service. One solution has been to disguise cell towers as trees or cacti. Graffiti, spray-painted

A similar perspective of the Los Angeles skyline, but with much of the scenery obscured by smog. (

© Robert Landau/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

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names and messages, are a form of urban visual blight. Attempts to curb graffiti by banning the sale of spray paint to minors have had little effect.

Bibliography

Gudis, Catherine (2003). Buyways: Automobility, Billboards and the American Cultural Landscape. New York: Routledge.

National Research Council Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. (1991). Haze in the Grand Canyon: An Evaluation of the Winter Haze Intensive Tracer Experiment. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

National Research Council Environment and Resources Commission on Geosciences. (1993). Protecting Visibility in National Parks and Wilderness Areas. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.


Internet Resources

Malm, William (National Park Service and Colorado State Institute for Research on the Atmosphere). "Introduction to Visibility." Available from http://www.epa.gov/oar/visibility .

Scenic America Web site. Available from http://www.scenic.org/billboards.htm .

Visual pollution is an aesthetic issue and refers to the impacts of pollution that impair one's ability to enjoy a vista or view.

Visual pollution disturbs the visual areas of people by creating harmful changes in the natural environment. Billboards[1],[2] open storage of trash, antennas, electric wires, buildings, and automobiles are often considered visual pollution. An overcrowding of an area causes visual pollution. Visual pollution is defined as the whole of irregular formations, which are mostly found in natural and built environments.[3][4]

Effects of exposure to visual pollution include: distraction, eye fatigue, decreases in opinion diversity, and loss of identity.[5]

Sources[edit]

Local managers of urban areas sometimes lack control over what is built and assembled in public places. As businesses look for ways to increase the profits, cleanliness, architecture, logic and use of space in urban areas are suffering from visual clutter.[6] Variations in the built environment are determined by the location of street furniture such as public transport stations, garbage cans, large panels and stalls. Insensitivity of local administration is another cause for visual pollution. For example, poorly planned buildings and transportation systems create visual pollution. The increase in high-rise buildings brings adverse change to the visual and physical characteristics of a city, which reduces the readability of the city and destroys natural environments.[7]

A frequent criticism of advertising is that there is too much of it.[8]Billboards, for example, have been alleged to distract drivers, corrupt public taste, promote consumerism and clutter the land. [9] See highway beautification. However, with the introduction of new communication technologies the fragmentation and incentive nature of advertising methods will improve, reducing clutter. Thus, with the increase of mobile device usage, more money goes to advertising on social media websites and mobile apps. Vandalism, in the form of graffiti is defined as street markings, offensive and inappropriate messages made without the owner’s consent.[10] Graffiti adds to visual clutter as it disturbs the view.

Prevention[edit]

United States[edit]

In the United States, there are several initiatives gradually taking place to prevent visual pollution. The Federal Highway Beautification Act of 1965 limits placement of billboards on Interstate highways and federally aided roads. It has dramatically reduced the amount of billboards placed on these roads.[11] Another highway bill, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 has made transportation facilities sync with the needs of communities. This bill created a system of state and national scenic byways and provided funds for biking trails, historic preservation and scenic conservation.[12]

The Dunn Foundation is an organization that increases public awareness of visual pollution and landscape appearance in America through educational programs.[13] The foundation has designed an educationally interactive package for students from grades 3-12 on how to improve the visual environment in their communities. Another company working toward prevention of visual clutter is Scenic America; a non-profit organization that envisions a future movement toward ensuring that scenic conservation boosts the economy and decreases visual pollution.[14] Businesses situated near an interstate can create problems of advertising through large billboards, however now an alternative solution for advertisers is gradually eliminating the problem. For example, logo signs that provide directional information for travelers without disfiguring the landscape are increasing and are a step toward decreasing visual pollution on highways in America.[15] Thus, researchers believe that planners should help and encourage citizens to maintain their communities as citizens have the power to influence government, especially local and regional management where most issues regarding appearance and disclosed.

Brazil[edit]

In September 2006, São Paulo passed the Cidade Limpa (Clean City Law), outlawing the use of all outdoor advertisements, including on billboards, transit, and in front of stores.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^Chmielewski, Sz., Lee, D., Tompalski, P., Chmielewski, T., J., Wężyk, P. (2016) Measuring visual pollution by outdoor advertisements in an urban street using intervisibility analysis and public surveys. International Journal of Geographical Information, 30(4): 801-819. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2015.1104316 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283491169_Measuring_visual_pollution_by_outdoor_advertisements_in_an_urban_street_using_intervisibilty_analysis_and_public_surveys/
  2. ^Chmielewski, S., Samulowska M., Lupa, M., Lee, D., Zagajewski, B., (2018) Citiezen Science and WebGIS for outdoor advertisement visual pollution assessment. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems (67): 97-109 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320086937_Citizen_science_and_WebGIS_for_outdoor_advertisement_visual_pollution_assessment)
  3. ^Yilmaz, Demet (May 2011). "In the Context of Visual Pollution: Effects to Trabzon City Center Silhoutte". The Asian Social Science Journal. 7 (5): 99. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  4. ^Nagle, Copeland. (2009). Cell Phone Towers as Visual Pollution. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy.
  5. ^Yilmaz, Demet (May 2011). "In the Context of Visual Pollution: Effects to Trabzon City Center Silhoutte". The Asian Social Science Journal. 7 (5): 99. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  6. ^Morozan, Cristian; Enache, Elena; Purice, Suzan. "Visual Pollution: A New Axiological Dimension Of Marketing?"(PDF). University of Pite, Faculty of Management-Marketing in Economic Affairs Brilla. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  7. ^Yilmaz, Demet (May 2011). "In the Context of Visual Pollution: Effects to Trabzon City Center Silhoutte". The Asian Social Science Journal. 7 (5): 99. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  8. ^Morozan, Cristian; Enache, Elena; Purice, Suzana. "Visual Pollution: A New Axiological Dimension Of Marketing?"(PDF). University of Pite, Faculty of Management-Marketing in Economic Affairs Brilla. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  9. ^Nagle, Copeland. (2009). Cell Phone Towers as Visual Pollution. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy.
  10. ^Morozan, Cristian; Enache, Elena; Purice, Suzana. "Visual Pollution: A New Axiological Dimension Of Marketing?"(PDF). University of Pite, Faculty of Management-Marketing in Economic Affairs Brilla. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  11. ^Nagle, Copeland. (2009). Cell Phone Towers as Visual Pollution. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy. Retrieved from
  12. ^Maguire, M., Foote, R., & Vespe, F. (1997). Beauty as well as bread. American Planning Association.Journal of the American Planning Association, 63(3), 317-328. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/229617956
  13. ^"Visual Pollution". The Dunn Foundation. 2012. Archived from the original on June 2, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  14. ^"Seven Principles of Scenic Conservation". Washington, DC: Scenic America. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  15. ^Maguire, M., Foote, R., & Vespe, F. (1997). Beauty as well as bread. American Planning Association.Journal of the American Planning Association, 63(3), 317-328. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/229617956
  16. ^"Five Years After Banning Outdoor Ads, Brazil's Largest City Is More Vibrant Than Ever". The Center for a New American Dream. Retrieved September 26, 2013. 

Chmielewski, Sz., Lee, D., Tompalski, P., Chmielewski, T., J., Wężyk, P. (2016) Measuring visual pollution by outdoor advertisements in an urban street using intervisibility analysis and public surveys. International Journal of Geographical Information, 30(4): 801-819. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2015.1104316

External links[edit]

Electrical and communication wires hang above a highway corner in the Philippines. A complex mix of commercial signs make up the view's background.
Artificial tree to hide a mobile phone base station