Riders United For A Sovereign America

U.S. population growth is a key factor in paving the world’s breadbasket

Economic, cultural, demographic and political forces between 1982 and 1997 converted approximately 39,000 square miles (or 25 million acres) of rural land into subdivisions, malls, workplaces, roads, parking lots, resorts, and the like.

The rural area lost to development between 1982 and 1997 is about equal to the entire land mass of Maine and New Hampshire combined.

The rate of rural land lost to development in the 1990s was about 2.2 million acres per year. If this rate continues to the year 2050 – when today’s toddlers are middle-aged – the United States will have lost an additional 110 million acres of rural countryside. That’s about equal to the combined areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Added to the loss of an area equivalent to Maine and New Hampshire, the losses by 2050 will amount to much of the Eastern Seaboard. Anyone who has flown at night from New York to Florida and seen the vast clusters of lights below sweeping away as far as the eye can see knows just how far advanced this process of mass urbanization already is – and how strained is the myth of limitless American open spaces. Half of all that agricultural loss will be the result of rapid U.S. population growth forced by mass immigration policies.

U.S. population growth eating food surplus that poor countries need

Like 19th century American cornucopians who could not imagine how human activity could seriously threaten the existence of the seemingly limitless passenger pigeons and buffalo, many commentators and leaders today say they can’t imagine any limits to America’s supply of farmland. Technological progress that increases the yield per acre can easily stay ahead of the loss of acreage due to urban expansion, they claim.

That technological progress will have to move quickly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that in just the five years between 1992 and 1997 the nation lost 12.8 million acres of agricultural land: cropland (5.3 million acres), pastureland (6.1 million acres), rangeland (1.4 million acres).

Agricultural land also succumbs to forces other than urban development. Arable land is subject to manmade and natural phenomena such as soil erosion, salinization, and waterlogging that can rob its productivity and eventually force its abandonment.

Much of these losses are due to over-exploitation by intensive agricultural practices needed to constantly raise agricultural productivity (yield per acre) in order to provide ever more food for America’s and the world’s growing populations.

Thus, the potent combination of relentless development and land degradation from overexploitation is reducing America’s productive agricultural land base even as the food demands on that same land base from a growing population are increasing. If the rates of agricultural land loss that have prevailed in recent years continue to 2050, the nation will have lost over 55 million of its remaining 375 million acres of cropland, or 15% of it, even as the U.S. population is projected to grow by more than 40% from 283 million to 404 million.

Continuing onto 2100, the discrepancy widens even further. The Census Bureau’s medium projection is 571 million, more than a doubling of today’s U.S. population. If the same rate of cropland loss were to continue that occurred from 1992-97, then the United States would lose approximately 110 million acres (about 30%) of its remaining 375 million acres of cropland. Such intensification of agricultural use must also assume no significant increase in the impacts of agriculture to ground and surface water, soil loss, biodiversity, etc.

The disappearing per capita farmland

Cropland per capita, that is, the acreage of land to grow grains and other crops for each U.S. resident, would decline by two-thirds, from 1.4 acres in 1997 to 0.46 acre in 2100.

If this actually occurs, biotechnology will have to truly work magic in raising yields per acre in order to maintain the sort of diet Americans have come to expect – let alone to continue to export any food to the large number of countries that currently depend on American surpluses.

Counting the loss in farmland

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has conducted inventories of the nation’s ecologically productive land every five years since 1982. It provides statewide data rather than assigning development to specific cities. The NRCS survey picks up development such as weekend cottages and second homes that are built by city residents far enough into the country that they don’t get included in the data on expanding Urbanized Areas. The NRCS survey also notes all the rural land lost each year to the development of recreational areas, resorts, roads, manufacturing, parking areas and sprawling small cities under 50,000 residents.

During the 15 years for which there is NRCS data available (1982 to 1997), approximately 39,000 square miles (or 25 million acres) of rural land was lost to urbanization.

A study in March, 2001 by three dozen scholars and other experts applied a standard scientific method to determine how much of the lost farmland and open space was related to population growth and how much was related to land use decisions that increase per capita consumption (per capita sprawl).

Information gathered from Numbers USA




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