Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

On this Earth Day, the earth is still losing rapidly in the United States, according to NumbersUSA's latest study on sprawl, authored by Leon Kolankiewicz, Anne Manetas and myself, and entitled:

VANISHING OPEN SPACES: How an Exploding U.S. Population Is Devouring the Land that Feeds and Nourishes Us

(Click here to see the entire study. ]

In just the eight years from 2002 to 2010, over 8.3 million acres (approximately 13,000 square miles) of farmland and natural habitat succumbed to the bulldozer's blade. That is an area larger than the entire state of Maryland -- cleared, scraped, filled, paved and built over -- in less than a decade.

Reporters today are asking me what actions the study suggests can be taken to reduce this continuing massive destruction of America's farmland and natural habitat. My answer is that the solution can be found in the fact that the No. 1 cause of all this destruction is the majority of Congress which year in and year out votes to force huge national population growth. Until the public demands that Congress stop driving what is the highest level of population growth in our history, the environmental destruction of our nation's land will continue.

Our study found this:

  • about 70% of all the open-space destruction around our urban areas in the last decade was related to population growth
  • and new immigrants and births to immigrants in the last decade have been the equivalent of about 70% of U.S. population growth.

It's a 70&70 situation that is easy to remember. Immigrants themselves bear no responsibility in any of this, as legal immigrants are merely taking advantage of the invitation that Congress extends to them to take lifetime work permits and to begin adopting the same suburban living preferences as U.S.-born Americans. But it is Congress that sets the policy that has quadrupled annual immigration numbers so that they are the chief factor in the expansion of our cities into the forests, meadows, pastures and croplands.

The acres that Congress annually forces under the bulldozers' blades are:

. . . the open spaces on which the country's human residents depend for food, fiber and the nourishment of their spirits, and to which the non-human inhabitants often tenuously cling for life itself."

In the period studied since 1982, the study concluded that the addition of each new resident of the United States results in the elimination of about a half-acre of farmland or open space.

While the country obviously can survive the recent losses, the report questions how long these trends of destruction can continue. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has noted that more than one-third of all the open spaces that have ever been converted to development in this country's history were eliminated from natural use and agriculture in just the last quarter century.

The NumbersUSA study concludes:

The good news during the last decade was that the galloping hyper-sprawl of the 1990s calmed significantly. The primary reason was that the rate of per capita land consumption stopped increasing as rapidly as it had over much of the post-World War II era. Indeed, by one measure, the average urban resident increased his or her amount of urbanized land by a relatively modest 3%.

Nonetheless, that lower (per capita consumption) growth rate still combined with a continuation of the largest numerical population growth in U.S. history to drive open-space destruction at a higher volume than any time other than the 1990s.

In the first decade of this century, the 497 Urbanized Areas designated by the U.S. Bureau of Census had to accommodate an extra 26 million, one hundred sixty-eight thousand, five hundred and eighteen residents (most of them citizens from other countries, and their children).

To provide those 26,168,518 new residents with housing, transportation and places to work, to shop and to meet educational, religious, cultural and recreational demands, the 497 Urbanized Areas spread out over an additional 13,586 square miles.

Back in the year 2000, those 13,586 square miles were filled with farmland and the woodland and grassland habitats of myriad animal and plant species. Now, they are filled with urban development.

We wrote in our study:

Yet, there is little sign that the nation is ready to substantially change this population trend – or even to much discuss it – although the open-space destruction it is driving is not sustainable over the long run.

On this week of special Earth Day attention to the stewardship of our natural environment, citizens should ask their U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators whether they are committed to driving high U.S. population growth or if they will pledge to slow down the destruction of our country's open spaces.

ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA

population growth
Three Possible Causes of Overpopulation

Updated: Mon, Apr 21st 2014 @ 10:45pm EDT

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Dave 362 of WI's picture

If you've been tracking voter turnout in recent years, you will see that there is nothing "horrifying and stupid" about our government at all; actually, it's the government we deserve.

Terri 9170 of IL's picture

When I hear people say this I always think they're not looking at the whole picture. We can only vote for the candidates offered, the parties control that totally, (if it were a democratic process Obama would never have been on the ballot), we have no responsible press anymore and instead of news we get propaganda. Taken together, these facts make it almost impossible for Americans to elect good representatives. There's an old saying, "If the gods meant us to vote, they'd give us candidates." NEW PARTY

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Gene 5798 of TX's picture

I do not see where I have a large responsibility in this problem. I had one child, that child was killed by a drunk driving alien from Mexico. I've been one to warn of over population. So,to those that had larger families and favor illegal immigration, how are we going to continue to provide for our population? This, oh me bad, thanks Roy for ever reminding America of this situation ever developing!

Roy 453 of VA's picture

Gene, it is always heart-breaking to be reminded of your loss to crime and the failure of our government to protect. As for children, for 40 years, some Americans have one child, some have two, some none, and some three or more but it all averages out to just under two per American woman. If not for Congress increasing immigration, the U.S. population would be just about to level off around 250 million. Instead we are closing in on 320 million and growing by 25-30 million more per decade with no end in sight -- all because of federal immigration policies.

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None 2150 of WY's picture

With all due respect Roy Beck, Your wrong it is the illegal aliens from all countries, mainly mexico that's causing this to happen. Of course with congress's help and illegal activist pushing illegals.

"Please note, we are NOT saying that "immigrants" are causing the losses." Your buttering up the cause.

Albert 3441 of PA's picture

Massive, uncontrolled population growth - be it legal or illegal - is causing environmental degradation. Therefore, legal immigration must be reduced and illegal immigration must be stopped. That has been the position of NumbersUSA since its inception.

Roy 453 of VA's picture

Carl, you are certainly right that illegal aliens DO bear responsibility for their actions. But the numbers are clear that LEGAL immigrants are the primary cause of our population growth, not illegal aliens. Even if we totally stop illegal immigration, our LEGAL immigration system will drive continuous and devastating loss of open spaces. It is the LEGAL immigrants whom I do not blame.

None 2150 of WY's picture

Your very right.

I have reviewed your media on the population effects again and again. Makes total sense.

"It is the LEGAL immigrants whom I do not blame." I without doubt think the same way.

But, this country is being invaded by all illegals causing a tremendous influx of people, therefore setting this country up to be a third world country.

You have displayed such an understanding and the consequences of this country being over populated with gum balls. So simple, but yet very BOLD! Thank you.

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John 4110 of MI's picture

Given that illegals represent numbers beyond the excessively large legal quotas they do represent the peak of the problem. Legal immigrants are the bigger part of the problem but can hardly be blamed- bad government policy invited them in.

Politically recent immigrants are all part of the problem. What immigrant will welcome the opinion that they are hurting the country?

Brett 6588 of CA's picture

Again this illustrates the hypocrisy of the far-left. They claim to be for pro environment issues, but what about the impact of overpopulation?

Gene 5798 of TX's picture

I think it is well known here that I do not vote left or right. So, the solution may be for America to find the center and abandon the parties presently known. Politics has been a big factor is "fracturing America" and only Americans can reunite America to maintain its longevity continuing.

Terri 9170 of IL's picture

If Americans can't figure out to get a new party before 2016, we're cooked. Two parties that both want to turn the U. S. into a Third World country and make slaves of us all.

Terri 9170 of IL's picture

You know, I haven't heard any significant rhetoric about environmental issues since Obama took office. The Obama Democrats are rogue politicians, they aren't Democrats. The old Democratic Party championed workers, the environment, and fought Big Business for the benefit of the little guy. The Obama bunch has totally sold out to to the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and the multi-billionaires.

Thomas 2924 of IN's picture

Terri, your assessment of the current, corrupt Democrat officeholders is completely accurate. They are traitors to everything the Democratic Party once stood for.

Mike 1111 of CO's picture

Immigration puts tremendous pressure on America's ability to supply its people with food, fuel, power, space, and water.

You article points out that most American women are comfortable with about 2 children per lifetime, replacement rate, and I think that 300 million people in this country is plenty.

Dave 362 of WI's picture

Many members of the media love to boast that they have a responsibility to hold government accountable.  Always sniffing around for one journalism award or another that acknowledges their role in bringing down a corrupt politician or hanging out to dry an agency that invades our privacy.  But where are these crusaders when it comes to our immigration-fed population explosion and it's impact on the environment?  On millions of jobless Americans?  

Robert 4907 of DE's picture

What is it going to take to get rid of ALL the illegal aliens?

How about some comprehensive ENFORCEMENT reform? Illegal aliens are destroying this country. Demanding this, damanding that, Who do these people think they are? If they are here ILLEGALLY, they have NO RIGHT to be here. They say our immigration laws are broken. They are not broken. What is broken is the lack of ENFORCEMENT to get these people out of this country. When is enough, enough? WHEN?

Nancy 0947 of AK's picture

Even in Anchorage, Alaska where I have lived for the last 34yrs.; we are experiencing urban sprawl. And a lot of it, but not all of it can be attributed to immigration. Thanks to Catholic Social Services, thousands of Third World Immigrants on being dumped in our state. And with Anchorage being the largest city, we pretty much end up with all of them. They all have lots of children when they arrive and continue to have more. And why not, they don't pay for the hospital bills, Medicaid does. And almost of them are on some kind of social service. When is our federal government going to wake up? A diversity of poverty and over-population is not a good thing.

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John 4110 of MI's picture

The fact that immigration driven population growth has negative environmental impact seems obvious and clear - yet is rarely mentioned. The fact that high immigration negatively (from a worker's perspective) impacts labor markets and increases income inequality is only slightly less obvious - and also is rarely mentioned.

Immigration impacts has become like a tenant of religion and none of the negative get discussed in correct society - even at the cost of deficiency in analysis.

Larry Summers in discussing the relatively small number of women in the sciences suggested that a complete study would explore fundamental differences by gender. It seems that he did not believe that there are real differences but a scholar should address the issue (presumably to rule them out). Even asking the scholarly question cost him his job as Harvard president).

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Albert 3441 of PA's picture

Right you are, John. The holy trinity of the Progressive catechism comprises mass immigration, multiculturalism, and political correctness. The reason that no one in the MSM is willing to discuss it is that facts will occasionally insinuate themselves into even the most cautious discussion, with the consequent risk for heretical conclusions. That would be too dangerous, too provocative.

In the MSM they burn heretics.

June 3610 of TX's picture

The President said much the same thing as Biden when he stated that the sovereignty of a country should be respected. I find that strange when he cares little about the sovereignty of his own nation. But, as Jeb Bush would say, they only break in out of love.

Gene 5798 of TX's picture

I'd like to have a conversation with Jeb about his acts of love. When I awoke to find one in my living room, he had my computer disconnected, and my TV in is arms. Loved the TV? What immigration has/is doing to our environment and expansion of urban sprawl is despicable. I despise going to Houston any more because they pretend they own Houston in action, and do have a lot of control, at least by implication

Albert 3441 of PA's picture

It could only be one of the Bush clan that would publicly characterize a foreign invasion of his own country as an act of love (an act of war would be closer to the mark). If the Republican Party does not repudiate this wealth-corrupted screwball and his idiot brother after what they have done, it will have a bleak future in American politics.

Mike 1111 of CO's picture

Only 2 countries have more people than the US, India and China, and they both have rampant poverty and pollution.

Of the countries with over 100 million people, the only ones that do not have rampant poverty and pollution are America (so far) and Japan, I think.

There is a 'law of large numbers' at work here. We really need to cut back on our population growth, largely due to immigration, especially Illegals, and best of all to stable population.

You can imagine the other, dark alternative: China, only very expensive, and with SUVs everywhere.

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Gene 5798 of TX's picture

I totally agree,Mike. I try to find something in history for America to compare to. In terms of bleak times only two times in America's history seem as disturbing, the Civil War and WWII. I truly worry about our American young people. I truly believe that I am likely a part of those leaving the country worse than left to my generation and those that followed!

Gary 5824 of TX's picture

Unfortunately I don't see anything changing in the near future.There are to few Americans that really see what is happening to our great Country.I still remember the USA when the population was about 100 million plus this was really a great Country.Now it seems the politicians are tripping over themselves to see who can bend over the most to give our Country away to the Third World Invaders.What puzzles me is that they can't see what they are doing or maybe they can and are just concerned with lining their pockets.I guess I shouldn't be surprised when I see how many Americans still think Obama is doing a good job.

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Gene 5798 of TX's picture

Gary, I agree with you, also. Lowering taxes like was done just a few years back, then driving wage scales down like what is happening now, can only be offset by more lower wage people. The thing in this equation that seems to be ignored by government, there has to be jobs or EQUATION WILL NOT WORK!! Then our environment gets overly abused by over population if it did work. I just CANNOT find the win-win in what we are doing today for America, for Americans, for labor, for the environment.

Terri 9170 of IL's picture

Well, I answered my own question about the F.A.I.R. event in Chicago today. Every single Republican candidate got up at before a "meeting of businessmen" and cried for amnesty. Even Oberwiess who we voted for in the primary because he campaigned against amnesty apologized for having held anti-amnesty views.

Glorria 2008 of CA's picture

We The People scream and scream and no one listens. CA will be bankrupt soon due to all the illegals. Too many immigrants too fast destroys a country. No one in CA speaks English anymore. The government brings them in and puts them on our entitlement systems and we can't figure out why we are broke. Obama and Jerry Brown refuse to deport illegals, even criminals. We pay for their housing, food stamps, medical, schooling (at $10,000 a child), etc. etc. The middle class gets more broken every year. What will it take to STOP the madness??? Now we can add the damage to the environment to the list of problems. I ask you... where is the common sense????

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Gene 5798 of TX's picture

Lloyd, your last question stumped me. however thanks for asking, because I'm thinking about how we lost that now First it seems to me that it has been gone for some time. Did we lose it with "No child left behind?" I think its gone longer than that, Did we lose it introducing computers into classrooms? Not too logical? Most of the time I believe I practice common sense. I went thru the 8th grade in a one room school house with one teacher to teach all 8 grades. My parents vehemently opposed school consolidation, even those times I was a class of one, You suppose that.....

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Terri 9170 of IL's picture

IL the same and yet, all candidates of both parties for 2014 in IL endorse amnesty. It's disgusting. Except for Rodney Davis, but how long can he hold out with all other GOP pushing for amnesty? I am afraid the illegals will vote in IL and American citizens will end up being dispossessed. There's going to be a hot time in the old state in Nov.

Albert 3441 of PA's picture

Illegal aliens have killed over 30,000 of our citizens since the September 11 incident. That is nearly three times the number of Americans killed in the Mexican War (1846-1848). It seems unlikely that congressmen and senators who are willing to countenance the deaths of thousands of their fellow countrymen at the hands of an invading horde are going to lose any sleep over the loss of farmland and open space. I think that we sometimes underestimate the cynicism of the scoundrels who rule our country.

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None 2150 of WY's picture

SECTION 350-356

Why we are having so many problems? This one reason.

(b) "Employee" means every person, including aliens and minors,
rendering actual service in any business for an employer, whether
gratuitously or for wages or pay, whether the wages or pay are
measured by the standard of time, piece, task, commission, or other
method of calculation, and whether the service is rendered on a
commission, concessionaire, or other basis.

Nancy 9993 of NC's picture

Why can't our leaders so where our flaws are and make a change..that's what they are hired to do...keep our country and citizenship under control in peace and war and protect our country from inalienable corruption due to them being illegal and taking advantage of the US hospitAlity. And goodness yet not a citizen to defend and pay they're way with taxes and lives to protect our country..Do not legalize illegals...We must continue to farm and provide for ourselves to be less dependant on others and get out of debt with other countries so we won't be threatened at any time in foreclosure or ownership! We need to restrict immigrants and keep better records and followup on visits like other countries. I know we are a country of all kinds and nationalities but there are rules to be upheld! The Land of the Free is becoming the Land of the Illegals...

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John 4110 of MI's picture

Successful (those that get elected and stay in office) politicians generally are those that accommodate and focus on the intensive wants of big voting blocks and campaign contributors. This process leads to manifest inconsistencies. It is rare indeed for a politician to admit to the inconsistencies.

William 6898 of AZ's picture

Obama says we are a "nation of laws" yet at the same time encourages and rewards people that break our laws! He's obviously very confused!

Benjamin 1502 of WA's picture

Roy, Maine is ground zero for America's abusive refugee resettlement scheme. My small group, Maine Immigration Reform Initiative, wants to make Maine a laboratory for true immigration reform. Attack the problem at its source, and Maine has been a victim.

We believe that the corporate Amnesty Lobby must be challenged in a number of ways; don't put all of your eggs in one strategy basket. We believe one additional course of action must take place at the local level. In Fremont, Nebraska, 60% of citizens voted to keep a local ordinance prohibiting the rental of property to illegals. This despite opposition from the mayor and the local Chamber of Commerce. Sounds familiar to the national scene.

In the spirit of Fremont, our group seeks to pass pro-law, pro-America resolutions at town halls and ordinances by local voters. Even within extreme pro-amnesty states, there are towns that stand for the rule of law and the Republic. We call it the initiative 50 Towns for America; call it what you may, we need solid action far more than strong words.

Would NumbersUSA consider aiding and utilizing such an effort? It's not a panacea for the Amnesty legislation, but if more patriots spoke up, then we have a better chance of halting this madness.

God bless America.

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