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Washington Post: density has downsides

author Published by Jeremy Beck

Our studies have demonstrated over and over again that you cannot stop the loss of open space in America without addressing immigration policy; you can only hope to slow it down. Density is a mitigation tool – and the preferred way of life for many – but Americans who desire more open space have science-supported reasons for asking Congress to address sprawl at one of its key sources: federal immigration policy.

“The denser the city, the less health-supporting nature you are likely to find,” reports the Washington Post.

A connection to nature is good for your health. And density tends to limit people’s access to nature, according to the Post’s analysis of “satellite imagery and data on dozens of factors — including air and noise pollution, park space, open water and tree canopy.”

“The scientific basis for nature’s health benefits is now overwhelming,” Harry Stevens reports.

“Study after peer-reviewed study has shown that nature exposure is linked to living longer, sleeping better, displaying improved cognitive function, and enjoying lower rates of heart disease, obesity, depression and stress.”

More to the point, Stevens says: “Countless studies have shown that people who spend less time in nature die younger and suffer higher rates of mental and physical ailments.”

According to the Post’s analysis, the nature deficit in communities with high densities is often a matter of environmental justice

“In rural areas, both rich and poor can easily spend time in nature. But in cities, NatureScores are higher where people have more education, are more likely to be White and earn more money.”

None of this is to knock the millions of Americans who choose a dense lifestyle either because they enjoy it or because they want to limit their ecological footprint. Rather, it is helpful to remind ourselves that the preservation of the American landscape is, among other things, a quality of life issue. Securing access to nature and all of its health benefits for the maximum number of Americans will be more possible with a moderated level of immigration that our and future generations can sustain.

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