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Environmental Sustainability Isn’t Just for the Birds

In an age of political polarization, it’s sometimes difficult to find common ground. But ensuring a sustainable quality of life for generations of Americans to come seems like something we can all agree on. Unfortunately, sustainability has become more complicated as America’s population has quickly expanded. Since 1950 America’s population has more than doubled, increasing from 152 million to 330 million today. The country’s natural resources, environment, and even infrastructure is feeling the pressure:

Air

Air

According to the National Lung Association, nearly half of all Americans breathe unhealthy air. That’s about 150 million Americans putting their health at risk every day.

Water

Water

40 U.S. states are running out of water. 96 of the 204 water basins supplying the country with fresh water could be unable to meet demand by 2071. And the waterways providing much of our drinking water are polluted. Only 21% of the nation’s rivers and streams are considered “healthy” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure

America’s infrastructure is failing. The nation’s water infrastructure is one example. Over 1,000 locations in 49 states have confirmed water contamination by highly toxic PFAS. American Water Works estimates the country will need to invest at least $1 trillion in water infrastructure in coming decades.

Forests

Forests

2,232,765 acres of forests and farmland are lost each year. That’s not only impacting our water and the air we breathe, it’s also impacting good paying jobs.

Birds

Birds

29% of the bird population in North America has disappeared.

Fish

Fish

40% of freshwater fish in North America are in danger.

Population Density

Population Density

“Smart growth” initiatives facilitating high population density have not only increased pollution, but also proven to be fertile ground for transmission of Coronavirus.

However, population growth can be contained. About 90% of U.S. population growth is driven by mass immigration. That should come as no surprise since America takes in more immigrants than any other country in the world. And immigration has played an important role in making America what it is today. But current immigration levels are far higher than in the country’s past. Today America admits more than one million legal immigrants a year, far higher than the 230,000 per year average admitted historically. The overwhelming numbers make the solution obvious. If we slow immigration to traditional levels, we can slow population growth and help ensure a sustainable quality of life for all Americans.