Every 13 seconds, the Census Bureau’s U.S. Population Clock ticks up by one person. Unfortunately, the rest of the government isn’t tracking the impact of this high growth rate.
If it were, officials would realize that there simply aren’t enough resources to support so many people. PFIR’s new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) demonstrates this worrying truth. With the EIS, PFIR aims to educate government officials and ordinary Americans alike on how different immigration policies affect population growth, and how that growth in turn degrades the environment.
Immigration, more than any other factor, drives U.S. population growth. Every 28 seconds, one international migrant comes to the United States. Immigrants and their children account for 88 percent of population growth.
Therefore, different levels of immigration can dramatically alter the rate of population growth. PFIR’s EIS projects the United States’ population in 2100 under three separate immigration policies.
The first situation, “No Action Alternative,” predicts the 2100 population based on the current policy that admits 1.25 million immigrants each year. If this trend continues, the population will increase to 524 million people by 2100 — a 70 percent jump over the 2010 population.
The second scenario, “Expansion Alternative,” factors in the de facto open border policies that some lawmakers have called for. Such policies would allow 2.25 million immigrants to enter the United States each year. Enabling this scenario would expand the population to almost 670 million by 2100 — an increase of 117 percent from 2010.
Finally, the third “Reduction Alternative” scenario considers limiting immigration to 250,000 people each year. In this situation, the population would increase to 379 million — 23 percent higher than 2010’s population.
The EIS then analyzes the impact of these policies on six different environmental criterion: urban sprawl and loss of farmland; habitat loss and impacts on biodiversity; water demands and withdrawals from natural systems; carbon dioxide emissions and resultant climate change; energy demands and national security implications; and international ecological impacts of U.S. immigration policies.
As the next blogs will make clear, the EIS shows that taking any route other than the “Reduction Alternative” will result in dire consequences for the environment and Americans’ quality of life. Even the “reduction alternative” won’t completely mitigate the harmful environmental impact of population growth — but it’s at least a step in the right direction.