It was my first year joining the NumbersUSA team at Fair Park in Dallas, TX for the annual EarthX event! In general, it was fun and rewarding to be able to share important information with our booth visitors about the impacts of urban sprawl and population growth, both locally and nationally.
Most passersby agreed that population growth is an important issue that needs to be addressed and many stopped long enough to engage in lengthy and enlightening discussion. (See my colleague Jeremy Beck's blog about our display booth.)
Visitors who took time to learn about our display were clearly astonished to learn that the number of gumballs we had in our machine represented the 20,000 acres of cropland and open spaces lost in Texas every two months to population growth and development.
We all see and feel the effect of more and more vehicles on the road and longer wait lines to just about every event we may want to attend, especially in our cities. But I learned just how valuable it truly is to raise awareness of what is causing these conditions. It is something we do not think about, and maybe don’t always want to think about, but more people means less space for plants and animals, higher prices from more consumer demand, and increasing resource scarcity of even the basics of food, energy and water –and more traffic!
A college student disagreed with our position to lower immigration saying that such an approach is inhumane. So, I respectfully engaged her in a discussion as to why she took this position. As I suspected, her position is narrowly based on media-driven narrative about border enforcement without an understanding of the broader issues related to immigration.
I asked her what is inhumane about regulating the flow of people into our country so we don’t run out of land to grow food, so we can afford to pay our rents, etc. I asked if she supported reducing pollution and individual carbon footprints. “Yes! she replied, of course.” So, I continued by asking how it is humane to add to these climate change dangers when we don’t give much, if any, thought to how many people are added to the United States population through immigration every year. Her answer was that we should “focus on encouraging more people to move to more rural states like her home state of Illinois.” I agreed, and being from West Virgina as I pointed out, I understood that out-migration can be as devastating as adding too many people too fast.
I continued by asking how it makes sense to bring more labor and resource competition with more people to already overcrowded cities where they choose mostly to go, when we could instead focus our spending and efforts to revive rural economies that would spread out the existing population?
She didn’t have an answer, but I applaud her willingness to listen and respectfully take interest. She asked if NumbersUSA would be willing to come to her campus sometimes to make a presentation or be part of a panel discussion. When and where we can have our message heard, we certainly will try!
CHRISTY SHAW is the Development Officer for NumbersUSA
Updated: Sun, Jun 2nd 2019 @ 5:15pm EDT