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  by  Roy Beck

NumbersUSA's two-decade focus on the relationship between immigration policy and the destruction of natural habitat received a nice national spotlight on this 51st Earth Day.

Real Clear Policy, the articles part of the Real Clear Politics news and polling aggregator, published my oped today and gave it the title "Meeting Earth Day's Promise Means Reducing Immigration."

When I covered the inaugural Earth Day teach-ins as a reporter 51 years ago, one of the top concerns was the rapidly growing U.S. population -- and its negative impact on America's wildlife and ecosystems.

. . . Environmental leaders such as Senator Gaylord Nelson -- often dubbed the Father of Earth Day -- called for the United States to model population stabilization for the rest of the world, as well as modeling ways to reduce negative per capita impacts.

. . . But many of the per capita gains [in reducing pollution and consumption] have been partly or totally negated by the growth of the U.S. population by 127 million since 1970, to 330 million today. The United States has abdicated its leadership role and, instead, remains a model for the never-ending population growth that most nations are rejecting. . . . [My] organization -- which has conducted nearly two dozen state, regional and national sprawl studies -- calculates that about two-thirds of all the habitat and farm loss since 2002 has been related to U.S. population growth. . . . Pew Research projects that almost 90 percent of U.S. population growth the next few decades will be the result of immigration policies.

That means immigration policies are causing about 90% of the two-thirds of habitat and farmland loss caused by the population growth. In other words, about 60% (0.9 x .67) of all habitat and farmland destruction is related to immigration.

As you know from all of NumbersUSA's sprawl studies, the federal government has been conducting exhaustive satellite and on-the-ground surveys of the country since 1982. During that time, nearly 50 million acres of natural habitat and farmland have been cleared, scraped and developed.

How can we protect the ecosystems that support the more than 1,000 species already identified as in jeopardy if we don't reduce U.S. population growth caused by annual immigration? Scientists routinely list habitat loss as the No. 1 or No. 2 threat to wildlife in this country.

Today, instead of reducing annual immigration toward a level more compatible with America's stewardship responsibility over the habitat within its borders, the most vigorous efforts in Congress are devoted to further increasing immigration and U.S. population growth -- and, thus, habitat destruction. Our analysis of the president's proposed immigration overhaul finds it would add an estimated 37 million permanent legal residents in the first 10 years alone (not counting births).

Neither the proposals nor the status quo are in keeping with the first Earth Day's goals of sustainability. They certainly do not present a model for other nations to emulate.

Read the full oped and leave comments here:

Some of you may have seen recent opeds, blogs and even news stories in the left-wing, right-wing, and mainstream media that suggest that the United States is facing a big population decline. If you read them closely, though, they are really talking about a decline in the rate of growth, not a decline in the population. Under current immigration policies, we are still on pace to cross 400 million in the lifetimes of today's children. That would be double the size of the United States at the first Earth Day in 1970. Whatever you may think about Earth Day, polling indicates that you are likely to find no reason why immigration policies should be used to force that doubling on our children, grandchildren and great-greatchildren.

ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, May 6th 2021 @ 3:00pm EDT

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