Christy Shaw's picture

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  by  Christy Shaw

More trees? Of course. But also Fewer Feet.

In her response to President Trump’s call to plant 1 trillion trees, The New York Times Op-ed writer, Margaret Renkl rightly observes that we need to do a much better job protecting existing trees. In her own city of Nashville, Renkl reports, unabated development destroyed 918 acres of canopy from 2008 to 2016, while the United States loses “36 million trees a year in metropolitan areas alone."

And what is the biggest culprit that drives the demand for overdevelopment?

Population growth.

U.S. population growth, 88%-95% of which is driven by immigration, is projected to reach over 400 million by 2065. This run-away train of increasing demand for new development is devouring our open spaces, wildlife habitats and natural resources at unprecedented and unsustainable rates. According to the U.S. Forest Service, between 1982 and 2001, over 34 million acres of open space was lost to development. By 2030, the total loss of forest space will equal the size of the state of Georgia.

The 'tree canopy' issue is a big deal. Cities are denuding landscapes to make way for new office buildings and condos, all in an effort to try to address the housing crunch and pack in more people, at the exact same time that psychologists increasingly claim that people need access to nature to remain sane and healthy.

Milennials are leaving cities and moving to the suburbs, in droves, for safe, comfortable, friendly, natural places to raise kids. On paper, the “packing people in cities" theory makes sense, but people don't want to do it, at least not Americans.
"Safe, comfortable, friendly, natural places to raise kids" is a very, very powerful part of the American dream and the human psyche. Rapid population growth is destroying that dream.

Agreeing here with Renkl, sure. Plant more trees. But we must go further. And reduce the number of feet. Lower immigration to sustainable levels.

CHRISTY SHAW is the Development Officer for NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, Feb 13th 2020 @ 4:16pm EST

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