Not en masse, no “we” didn’t. There were people that did though and there are people that are warning of it’s ill effects in developing nations.
But it’s hard to get people that are consuming and building progressively more complex systems to stop. There is a natural inclination to want to more out to the edges of complex cities, it feels more safe, you can afford a larger property, the air is cleaner. In a capitalistic system that requires ever greater and more varied consumption, sprawl is just a matter of time. Once an area become dense with buildings some people want to move again to the edges or even beyond the edges, striving for low-density within proximity to the high density they work in but don’t want to live in.
So, yes, some people knew the affect it would have on the land and the people. Some people know now and it is continuing to spread worldwide.
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