President Donald Trump’s administration is about to implement new rules that it claims will “modernize” and “improve” the Endangered Species Act.
All too predictably, certain industries in Trump’s favor approve of this imminent overhaul, while environmentalists are in an uproar.
Yet neither the Trump administration nor its most vociferous environmental critics is willing to address or even acknowledge the major threat to all imperiled wildlife in the United States: massive habitat loss associated with massive, unending U.S. population growth.
Degradation and loss of habitat is far and away the single most important cause of disappearing wildlife — much more than pollution, invasive species or poaching.
Propelled mostly by the largest immigration wave in U.S. history, the number of Americans grew by about 60 million from 1990 to 2010, at a rate of 30 million per decade. Tens of millions more have been added this decade as well, and now there are almost 330 million of us, and counting.
American families have averaged fewer than two children for years, so that future population growth in our country will be almost entirely due to mass immigration.
Each added person — each new American consumer, whether native-born or foreign-born — is, on average, responsible for the loss of about a half-acre of natural habitat or farmland. These lands are developed to meet our ever-rising demands for housing, transportation, commercial and office space, warehouses, factories and manufacturing, utilities, educational and government facilities, and so forth.
A 2019 study by Conservation Science Partners identified agriculture, energy, transportation and urban stressors as the major factors in loss and fragmentation of natural habitat in the lower 48 states.
Population growth exacerbates each of these. More people require more land to grow more food, more habitat-destroying surface coal mines, wind and solar facilities, and the like.