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author Published by Jeremy Beck

Habitat loss is the primary threat to biodiversity and ecosystems.

Habitat loss is driven by immigration-fueled population growth in the United States.

These things are true. You can write them down. You can say them out loud.

Look at what is going on in the Southern Appalachians.

Carolina Public Press reported last year that “climate change coupled with development and human population growth in Western North Carolina has disrupted the ability of wildlife, including elk, American black bears, white-tailed deer, bobcats, red salamanders and others, to traverse their historic ranges.”

Note: Elk were extirpated in North Carolina in the 19th century, long before population-driven urban sprawl became an issue, by uncontrolled hunting and habitat change from conversion to subsistence agriculture at a time when NC’s human population was far less than what it is today. The National Park Service reintroduced Elk to the area twenty years ago. These are the Elk that are impacted by habitat fragmentation today.

Elk and other large grazers require expansive, connected, natural areas to range and find food, especially during unseasonable weather. We Americans, meanwhile, use an average of fifteen-football-fields worth of nature to support our lifestyle. As our population grows, so does development and sprawl. If there is one thing sprawl is good at engendering, it is habitat fragmentation.

“Connecting natural areas,” says Nikki Robinson of the Wildlands Project in North America, “is a bit like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.”

The Southern Appalachians, according to a 2016 study, is one of the few areas on the East Coast that has a significant area of connected habitats. Now that appears to also be threatened.

According to The Center For American Progress,”habitat fragmentation is now so severe that a pin dropped at random on a map of the contiguous United States can be expected to land less than half a mile from human development.”

Treating the symptoms, but not the cause

“The Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service is offering “ecogrief” training,” reports Stephen Dinan, “to employees who are struggling with a sense of trauma or loss as they witness a changing environment.”

If only there were as much conversation about the immigration policies that are driving much of the ecological loss! Conversations, unfortunately, are increasingly difficult in the spaces where they are most needed.

“Terms and Phrases To Avoid”

The Sierra Club’s new language guide discourages the use of terms like “overpopulation,” “carrying capacity,” “population stabilization,” “migrant,” and “illegal immigrant.”

The guide may be well-meaning, but it is not going to stop habitat destruction. A moderated immigration policy, however, would be a necessary (if insufficient) step towards protecting wildlife habitat and corridors.

Euphemism obscures the truth

Gary Wockner example of how mushy words help destroy Nature:

Environmentalists are losing the “water wars” because they have had their language stolen — Consider this mumbo-jumbo that you hear when talking to water agencies: “When a water right is in priority, you perfect it by sweeping the river so that excess supplies are held in storage for consumptive use.”

“What really happened? They dammed, drained and destroyed a river, which is a living, breathing life force — the veins of the planet — providing survival to a vast array of nonhuman creatures that have entire cultures and languages of their own.”

Conservationist Karen Shragg says well-intentioned virtue signals aren’t good enough:

We can’t keep driving around in our electric vehicles with our “coexist “bumper stickers on them, with our organic produce-filled cloth bags and think that we are doing much to rectify the devastating impact of living in a country which is deep into overshoot.”

“At some point,” she says, “we have to see the negative impact that continuing to turn the other cheek on massive immigration undermines everything we hold dear.”

JEREMY BECK is a V.P., Deputy Director for NumbersUSA

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