In the blur of media the last few weeks, an excellent press release from the Center for Biological Diversity earned no attention. Titled, “Survey: Most Americans Believe Human Population Is Driving Wildlife Extinctions”, the press release reports on a very important survey with these results:
73% of respondents think the world’s population is growing too fast,
nearly 3/4 of respondents agree human population growth is driving other animals to extinction,
Seventy-one percent of respondents agree that human population growth is making climate change worse,
Three out of 4 respondents say the United States isn’t doing enough to protect natural resources,
Seventy-four percent of respondents say Americans consume too many natural resources,
Eighty percent of respondents agree that all types of birth control should be legal, free and easily accessible.
The Center for Biological Diversity deserves major kudos for funding this survey and for their work in support of lowering human population growth. Few environmental groups are willing to touch the issue, especially larger American environmental groups.
And the issue absolutely has to be addressed because population growth is literally devouring the United States. A report titled, “How Much Nature Should America Keep?” in 2019 by the Center for American Progress indicates that:
The United States loses a football field of natural land every 30 seconds,
The continental United States lost 24 million acres of natural land to development between 2001 and 2017,
At this rate, "a South Dakota-sized expanse of forests, wetlands, and wild places in the continental United States will disappear by 2050".
And the report directly points to the culprit by noting that, ‘since 1996, the U.S. population has skyrocketed from 270 million people to 330 million, and that figure could eclipse 440 million by 2065 if current trends continue’. The Center for American Progress deserves major kudos for funding this study and for their work documenting the severe negative impacts caused by a rapidly growing U.S. population.
To better understand and address these population growth trends, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report in 2020 that further explains the cause of present and future U.S. population growth. Titled, “A Changing Nation: Population Projections Under Alternative Immigration Scenarios”, the report discusses and depicts the growing U.S. population with an eye towards various changes in immigration policy. The image-graph below is the take-home point of the report:
In 2016, there were 323.1 million people in the U.S. The green line in the graph is the “status quo” of immigration policy by recent presidents including Obama and the first 3 years of Trump, with the population predicted to reach 404.5 million in 2060. The dark purple line at the top would double U.S. immigration rates, the lighter purple line would halve immigration rates, and the grey line at the bottom would come from a policy of “no immigration”. Because birth rates in the U.S. are well below replacement level, if there is no immigration (the grey line), the total U.S. population would soon begin declining.
Always a “third rail” issue, immigration policy in the U.S. nevertheless needs to be brought out in the open and discussed by environmentalists including major environmental groups. The U.S.’ immigration policy is almost solely driving the results of the reports cited above from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for American Progress.
We must begin a conversation about conservation and U.S. population growth.