Millions of Americans limit their personal consumption to conserve natural resources. But there is a movement afoot to ask Americans to sacrifice not for nature's sake, but in order to pack more people into the country, the states, cities and towns. We are being asked to conserve more individually so we can consume more collectively.
Congress has set a course, through immigration policy, to ensure that the United States will add tens of millions of people over the coming decades. In doing so, Congress has negated the personal sacrifices of millions. With our total ecological footprint already well beyond our biocapacity, moderating immigration numbers back to the levels of even the 1980s would be among the top priorities of a sensible Congress.
As we've studied the loss of open space across America, we've seen a pattern emerge:
- Governments promote rapid population growth,
- watch housing prices and investor profits soar,
- oversee more housing & development (sprawl & density) under the guise of affordability and equity, and
- promote more rapid population growth...etc.
The land loss is enormous. The ecological loss is even greater. Americans favor slower growth or stabilization but Congress has made that impossible.
By any measure, from housing to land loss to the extinction crisis, immigration-driven population growth has already stretched our biocapacity to the limit. Just look at water.
The Bear River Watershed is globally important for migrating birds and is a "life-line" for agriculture, mineral extraction, hunting, and tourism. But it is struggling with drought and overuse. The human population of the watershed is projected to double by 2050 and sections of it are being sold off to the highest bidder.
The Bear River feeds into the Great Salt Lake, which is drying up amidst some of the fastest population growth in the United States.
We need and want water in our rivers...
...but we're asked to conserve so we can drain them dry faster. Environmental Whistleblower Gary Wockner says:
water conservation is often seen as a moral imperative in the environmental movement where, in theory, water use by humans can be whittled down to make more water available for the rivers, the environment, and the non-human species that depend on water for survival.
However, what if...[conservation efforts] will it be used to simply fuel more growth while our river systems collapse even faster?"
Expanding cities need water. Utah has turned rural areas and tribal lands into "sacrifice zones for the sake of urban growth."
My colleague Leon Kolankiewicz says "We are facing a crisis that shows no sign of getting any better" as we put "an ever greater demand on a resource that's actually shrinking."
The squandering of our land, water, and biodiversity is un-American and upsetting, but the videos above also remind us we still have so much to save...if Congress will allow it.
JEREMY BECK is a V.P., Deputy Director for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Dec 16th 2022 @ 10:01am EST