Earth Day Network, an environmental advocacy group, plans to plant 7.8 billion trees by 2020. Americans are going to need every one of them to mitigate the environmental damage done by the nation’s immigration policies.
As PFIR’s new Environmental Impact Statement explains, immigration drives rapid population growth. That, in turn, drastically increases the pace of urban sprawl and the loss of farmland and wildlife diversity.
If America continues to admit foreign nationals at the current rate of 1.25 million annually, the country’s population will grow by 215 million people by 2100.
Such growth will make the U.S. environment unrecognizable. The United States would need to develop 79 million additional acres of land — the combined size of Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina and West Virginia. Cities will swallow their suburbs, and rural areas between metro areas will disappear entirely.
Up to 75 million of those lost acres would be wildlife habitat. Future Americans might have to watch Bambi just to see a deer.
Environmental degradation could even lead to higher food costs. About half of the lost acreage will be cropland. If fewer acres are devoted to farming, food supplies may decrease, causing prices to skyrocket.
Such consequences aren’t inevitable.
If policymakers cut immigration levels to 250,000 people each year, it would reduce pressure on limited environmental resources. To support the additional 70 million people such a policy would add to the U.S. population by 2100, Americans would only need to develop about 10 million acres of cropland, and they’d lose as few as 35 million acres of wildlife habitat.
While hardly anything to cheer about, such losses are far less severe than the consequences of leaving immigration levels unchecked.
Planting trees is a wonderful activity. But to truly sow the seeds of a sustainable future, leaders need to bring population growth under control by curbing immigration.