Why Population Matters
June 06, 2013
Population Matters Index
Though more than two-thirds of the planet is covered with water, only a small fraction - around 0.3% - is available for human use and reuse. And no more of this renewable fresh water is available today than existed at the dawn of human civilization.
1915: 1.8 billion | 1967: 3.5 billion | 2006: 6.5 billion | 2011: 7.0 billion (World Population) October 2006, U.S. Census Department
June 2005, U.N.
World population, currently 6.5 billion, is growing by another 76 million people per year. According to the UN the world will add another 2.6 billion people by 2050. Rapid population growth has placed incredible stress on Earth's resources. Global demand for water has tripled since the 1950s, but the supply of fresh drinking water has been declining because of over-pumping and contamination. Half a billion people live in water-stressed or water-scarce countries, and by 2025 that number will grow to three billion. In the last 50 years, cropland has been reduced by 13% and pasture by 4%.
NASA's Landsat program, using a series of satellites, monitors how the human species is altering the surface of the planet. Since 1984, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has accumulated a stunning catalog of images that, when riffled through and stitched together, create a high-definition slide show of our rapidly changing Earth. TIME magazine, using GOOGLE Earth, is proud to host the public unveiling of these images from orbit.
You can see Dubai, growing from sparse desert metropolis to modern, sprawling megalopolis, or central-pivot irrigation systems turning the sands of Saudi Arabia into an agricultural breadbasket. Watch the high-speed retreat of Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska; the West Virginia Mountains decapitated by the mining industry, and the denuded forests of the Amazon, cut to stubble by loggers.
Google's technology has scrubbed away cloud cover, filled in missing pixels, digitally stitched puzzle-piece pictures together, until the growing, thriving, sometimes dying planet is revealed in all its dynamic churn. The Landsat images take 1.8 trillion pixels per frame, the equivalent of 900,000 high-def TVs assembled into a single mosaic.
Supporting data, videos, and slideshows are available for free download at: http://www.earth-policy.org/books/fpep
It took all the years from the time that the first modern humans appeared until 1804 for the global population to reach 1 billion in 1804 and until 1927 to add a second billion. Three decades later, in 1960, world population reached 3 billion and then we added another billion every 13 years or so until we hit 7 billion in 2011.
Humans have outrun the carrying capacity of the economy's natural support systems, including its forests, fisheries, grasslands, aquifers, and soils. Additional demand can only be satisfied by consuming the resource base itself. These excesses that are undermining our global civilization.
Consider the lily pond which has started with one lily plant leaf. The second day it adds two leaves, four the third day, eight the fourth, and so on. If the pond is full on the thirtieth day, at what point is it half full? Answer: "On the twenty-ninth day." Our global lily pond may already be in the thirtieth day.
Boosting the world's population to 2.3 billion people (UN's projection of 9.3 billion 2050) is unlikely if we rely solely on declining fertility rates, due to the difficulties in expanding the food supply, such as those posed by spreading water shortages and global warming. Demographic assumptions are based on fertility levels, age distribution, and life expectancy, but rarely on guesses as to will there be enough water to grow food for 2.3 billion more people? Or: will population growth continue without interruption in the face of crop-shrinking heat waves?
While global population growth has slowed from 2.1% in 1967 to 1.1% in 2011, we don't know if population growth will slow further because we accelerate the shift to smaller families or because we fail to do so and eventually death rates begin to rise. Filling the gap of allowing the millions of women in the world who want to plan their families to actually do so by gaining access to reproductive health and family planning services would take us a long way toward stabilizing world population and also improve the health and well-being of women and their families.
Half of the world's people live in countries that are depleting their aquifers by overpumping, but as human numbers multiply, we need more and more irrigation water. 80% of oceanic fisheries are being fished at or beyond their sustainable yield now that world population growth has increased demand for seafood. We could turn to fish farming, this would require us to grow fish food such as corn and soybean meal, putting additional pressure on the earth's land and water resources.
In Africa, the increase in human numbers from 294 million in 1961 to just over 1 billion in 2010 was accompanied by growth in the livestock population from 352 million to 894 million. These livestock numbers are outgrowing grasslands, leaving the land vulnerable to soil erosion and it eventually turns to desert, depriving local people of their livelihood and food supply, as is now happening in parts of Africa, the Middle East, central Asia, and northern China.
The demand for wood due to a growing population is exceeding the regenerative capacity of forests. The world's forests are currently losing a net 5.6 million hectares per year. Mauritania, for example has lost nearly all of its forest and are now essentially treeless. Without trees, erosion will occur, making it more difficult to produce enough food.
Plowing of marginal land leading to soil erosion and eventually cropland abandonment is happening in Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia.
Faced with falling water tables, not a single country has mobilized to reduce water use so that it would not exceed the sustainable yield of an aquifer. We cannot afford to ignore the threats from the risks we are taking, acting like earlier civilizations that failed to reverse the environmental trends that undermined their food economies.
The bright side is that 44 countries, including nearly all those in both Western and Eastern Europe, with about 14% of humanity, have reached population stability as a result of gradual fertility decline. China's population of 1.35 billion is projected to peak in 2026 at 1.4 billion and then start shrinking.
Latin America's population growth is slowing. From just over 600 million in 2012, is projected to reach 751 million by 2050. Brazil, the largest country in the region, is projected to grow only 12% over nearly four decades.
However, virtually all of the population growth will be in developing countries, the areas least able to support them. This would include the Indian subcontinent: India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are expected to grow from 1.6 billion people to almost 2.2 billion by 2050; and Africa south of the Sahara: expected to grow from 899 million people to 2.2 billion by 2050.
The big challenge for the world today is to help these fast-growing regions accelerate the shift to smaller families, both by eradicating poverty and by ensuring that all women have access to reproductive health care and family planning services.
Populations in Germany. Russia, and Japan are projected to shrink by roughly one tenth by 2050. Meanwhile, by 2050, Nigeria, about the size of Texas, will go from 167 million people to 390 million; Ethiopia, one of the world's hungriest countries, will go from 87 million to 145 million; and Pakistan, 8% the size of the U.S., from 180 million to 275 million.
The "demographic transition" explains the dynamics of population growth as societies modernize. In pre-modern societies, where both births and deaths are high, there is little or no population growth. Stage Two is when, as health care improves, death rates decline but birth rates remain high and population growth accelerates, typically at 3% a year. Not many of us realize that a 3% annual rate of growth will actually lead to a 20-fold growth in a century. Stage Three is when living standards continue to improve, women are educated, the birth rates start to decline, and births and deaths reach a balance.
Most countries are in stage two or three, but some countries are trapped in stage two, where governments are worn down by the struggle to build schools and provide jobs, often overwhelmed by land and water shortages, disease, civil conflict, and other adverse effects of prolonged rapid population growth. Soon they may no longer be able to provide personal security, food security, or basic social services such as education and health care; and then they lose their legitimacy and often their authority to govern. They may become failed states, such as Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan. Pakistan and Nigeria are not far behind.
The top 20 failing states, almost without exception, have high levels of fertility, according to Fund for Peace.
Countries that reach stage three, with lower fertility and fewer children, often reap a "demographic bonus," which happens when the number of young dependents declines sharply relative to the number of working adults. Household savings climb, investment rises and economic growth accelerates.
Japan, after it made a big effort to cut family size after WW II, became the first country to gain the bonus benefit, and, after three decades, raised Japan's income per person to one of the highest in the world, its economy second only to the United States. South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore followed shortly thereafter. China's declining birth rate created an unusually large demographic bonus, spurring investment because people were able to save a good share of their incomes. Sri Lanka, Mexico, Iran, Tunisia, and Viet Nam are now seeing the demographic bonus.
If world population growth does not slow dramatically, the number of people trapped in hydrological poverty and hunger will almost certainly grow, threatening food security, economic progress, and political stability. The only humane option is to move quickly to replacement-level fertility of two children per couple.
Since the first UN environment meeting in Stockholm in 1972, environmentalists have debated whether we should include human population growth among the urgent challenges of human consumption, industrial toxins, species loss, global warming, and so forth.
Today it is apparent that population matters. Virtually every nation in the world seeks more commodities for its citizens, and a growing population multiplies the effect of this growing per-capita resource consumption. We could make all the right moves regarding energy systems, transportation, and recycling, and still overshoot Earth's capacity with unsustainable numbers of humans.
Next year, in September 2014, the UN will convene a special session on human population. The intention is to implement a population stabilization plan devised twenty years ago at the U.N. population conference in Cairo. The original strategy, adopted by 180 nations, cited women's rights, birth control, and economic development as keys to stabilizing population growth.
The Cairo strategy remains valid, but is useless if not implemented with meaningful targets and actions. It may also prove useless if we do not re-define "economic development" to focus on better lives for the world's poor, less wasteful consumption among the rich, and less concentration of wealth among the super-rich.
Since Cairo conference, we have gone from 5.7 billion to 7 billion people, adding about 75 million people each year - the equivalent of five cities the size of Beijing each year. But we have failed to match this growth with new infrastructure, shelter, food, water, or health care. As we add more people, we lose some 16 million hectares of forest each year, gain 6 million hectares of desert, lose 26-billion tons of topsoil, deplete aquifers, and drain rivers. These trends are not sustainable.
About ten million people starve to death each year, over a billion people go hungry, and some 2 billion have no access to clean fresh water.
The danger with UN meetings is that no substantive action will follow. Kenya lead the movement for the meeting, but warned that there will be no final document from the 2014 population session. Controversial issues such as universal women's rights, girl's education, abortion rights, and access to contraception are likely to be avoided.
Wherever women have rights over their own reproduction and where families have access to birth control, the fertility rate declines, as history has shown.
In the 1970s, fertility rates fell in Spain and Italy, not because of increased wealth, but rather following the advent of women's rights and available contraception. In Columbia, fertility rates dropped from 6 to 3.5 children per family in 15 years after contraception was made widely available.
To be successful, the U.N. must be willing to confront cultural resistance with education. The Cairo conference recognized the need for comprehensive population policies that include family planning, gender equality, and sex education for both young women and men. However, they also noted that such policies will conflict with cultural habits.
The UNFPA has been working with UNICEF to encourage communities to stop the practice of female genital mutilation. In 2012 they met directly with 1,800 communities to overcome "major obstacles related to culture," according to Babatunde Osotimehin, the UNFPA executive director. They have worked to educate communities in family planning and contraception, which Osotimehin calls "the most important intervention you can give to liberate a women's energy and life."
In the US, the Center for Biological Diversity conducted a Public Poll a found that 60% of Americans now equate human population growth to wildlife extinctions; 57% understand the link to climate change. These represent marked changes from even a decade ago.
The US is predicted to lose 36 million acres of forest to urban sprawl by 2050. In Florida, due to over-pumping of water, salt water is now intruding into the primary aquifer, which supplies water for 19 million people.
Water shortages now appear in most parts of the world, rich and poor - US plains, Beijing, Madras, Mexico - simply because of over-consumption, too many people demanding too much of a limited resources. Since 1960, for example, the Aral Sea has shrunk to about 10% of its original area.
The I = PAT formula invented in the 1970s by Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren to account for human ecological impact on the Earth's systems: Ecological Impact (I) is equal to Population (P) times Affluence (A), or average consumption, times a factor for Technology (T). This formula has been useful, but it has been found that the "Technology" factor is non-linear, meaning that a simple change in technology can create a large, exponential leap in ecological impact. Consider for example the exponential impact of deep sea drilling after the British Petroleum oil-well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, or the exponential impact of a disaster such as the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. A nuclear war would be the ultimate exponential impact.
The other problem with technology is that the living ecological system may also respond with its own multiplying effects. Every time we disturb nature, we set in motion a sequence of system responses, which then have their own impact, usually beyond our control or influence. We witness this with global heating. While carbon in the atmosphere heats the Earth, the heating itself creates feedbacks that include: melting permafrost that releases methane, which increases heating; melting ice that reduces Earth's reflective qualities (albedo), retaining more heat; dying forests that absorb less carbon; increased wildfires; and so forth.
There are ways that we can stabilize human population without unpleasantly imposed restrictions, namely with universal women's rights, education, and available contraception. We can hope that in 2014, the United Nations adopts these policies and takes serious action.
Paul Ehrlich, addressing an audience at the University of Vermont, said, "I believe and all of my colleagues believe that we are on a straightforward course to a collapse of our civilization."
"We're a small-group animal," he said, "both genetically and culturally. We have evolved to relate to groups of somewhere between 50 and 150 people." ... "nd now suddenly we're trying to live in a group not of 150 or 100 people, but of seven billion people, somewhat over seven billion people at the moment, and that is presenting us with a whole array of problems."
Those problems include an inability to recognize gradual, large-scale changes in our environment as dangerous.
“We're facing climate disruption," he said. “That is the most talked about environmental problem we face. It's not necessarily the most serious. … It may be some of the others are even more serious. The global spread of toxic substances is getting worse every year." Some substances are more dangerous to us in small quantities than large because of the way our cells process them, and we've spread these substances far and wide. “There's already nasty signs about the effects. For instance in some sub-Arctic villages they're having twice as many girl babies born as boy babies."
Ehrlich said we have to cut our fossil fuel use dramatically and completely redesign our water management infrastructure. If we don't, changing precipitation patterns will make it impossible to feed everyone on Earth.
“We're doing a crappy job of feeding people today, and yet we're sitting in a society that with equanimity looks at adding another two and a half billion people to the seven billion people we've got already."
Ehrlich said we also need to concentrate on gradually slowing and then reversing population growth. The Earth's carrying capacity is 1.5 billion people at the very most. To cut the global population from its current level to 1.5 billion, we need a fertility rate of 1.5 children per family.
“How do you do it humanely? Well, first thing you do is work very hard to get every woman on the planet exactly the same rights, opportunities, pay, and so on as every man. When women get rights, birth rates go down." Next, promote birth control.
The problem of overconsumption, Ehrlich said, could be solved almost instantly, given the right government. As an example, he mentioned how quickly the U.S. switched from producing cars to manufacturing tanks during World War II.
“If there's any reason for hope, it's that we do have a history of showing that human beings, human societies, in relatively recent times can change extremely dramatically, extremely rapidly." .. “When the time is right, you can get dramatic, dramatic changes, which indicates to me that there's a chance that when the time is right, we can change the way we behave towards each other and towards our environment and it can happen very very rapidly. I think … your main challenge is to find a way to ripen the time."
Dr. Charles Fowler is a recently retired American scientist who worked for NOAA at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center who in 2008 wrote a paper entitled "Maximizing biodiversity, information and sustainability" - see http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-008-9327-2?no-access=true
According to Dr. Fowler, in order to maximize the biodiversity of the planet we would need to reduce human population to about 1/700 (10 million people), overall energy use to 1/6000, CO2 emissions to about 1/8000, consumption of the planet's primary production to 1/13,000, and our water consumption to 1/267,000.
That means each of the 10 million people would use 12% of today's average energy, produce 8% of the CO2, use 5% of the planet's productivity and consume just 0.3% of the fresh water.
These 10 million would have a standard of living of less than 10% what the "world average" person enjoys today.
This is about half the lower-bound number arrived at in Thermodynamic Footprints and Sustainability, which was 20 million people all living a strict hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
We will eventually, somehow revert back to a situation much closer to true sustainability. However, because the gap between where we are and where we need to be is so enormous, it's essentially impossible for us to manage ourselves out of our predicament within the next century. That means an involuntary correction is inevitable, with all the hardship that implies.
Egypt imports about half of its food; however, its foreign currency reserves have been shrinking dramatically and without more external aid, it's difficult to see how Egypt will manage to feed itself.
Recently Qatar, Turkey, and Libya pledged $6.2 billion so that Egypt could continue to purchase wheat, cooking oil, and other staples, but without a continuous flow of aid, it is hard to see how Egypt survives. Egypt has been trying to negotiate a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF, but the IMF is not an international relief agency; it expects its loans to be repaid and will not extend credit when repayment is not made.
Egypt has more people than Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates combined. Egypt is also heavily dependent on diesel imports to transport its food and run its agriculture machinery. One-third of its population is under the age of 15, and it is estimated that 40% of Egyptians are living on less than $2 a day. In 13 years or less, Egypt's population, currently 82 million, is projected to reach 102 million, and by 2050, 135 million.
With political instability in recent years, Egypt can no longer rely upon tourism to pay the bills. And without a healthier economy, there's no end in sight to the political unrest.
Egypt's poor and middle class are heavily dependent on government food and fuel subsidies for their economic survival. The IMF is insisting that the government agree to trim them on the claim that they are wasteful. However, trimming them would almost certainly fuel widespread protests and further undermine the government.
President Morsi is banking on the large number of Egyptian young people as a source of potential economic strength, hoping that Egypt will soon join the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Not likely. It would take a whole lot of education and foreign investment to productively employ Egypt's youth; Egypt is just too big.
If Egypt had curbed corruption, educated more girls, empowered women, and instituted economic reforms two or three decades ago, it might have had a fighting chance of turning its demographic corner and joining the BRICS, but its food and foreign currency reserves are steadily shrinking and its population and number of unemployed youth are rising.
In the end, Egypt may be too big and too late to save.
Other countries may see similar dim prospects. Syria is a political nightmare. Yemen's capitol city, Sanaa, could run out of water by the end of this decade. Saudi Arabia is estimated by Citigroup Inc. to be a net oil importer by 2030.
Politicians of western countries avoid talking about population control, but if we invest in family planning we might just save our planet.
A 60-year-old Bolivian woman, mother of eight, was born and raised in a mountain community in Bolivia. High above her home, a glacier is retreating three times as fast as predicted ten years ago. All but one of her children have already migrated to other parts of the country. Because of the dwindling water supply, she must spend hours hauling water and the fodder for her llamas and sheep is more difficult to find, with some of her llamas starving to death.
She and women like her are on the front line of the struggle against climate change. But her plight as a mother dramatizes an issue that was largely ignored at the UN summit last December and is missing from the agenda of the UN summit in Mexico (COP16), scheduled for late this year. It is the problem of human numbers.
Britain's premier scientific organisation, The Optimum Population Trust, has launched a two-year study into global population levels. A growing body of scientists believe the time has come for politicians to confront the problems posed by the future increase in human numbers.
The Royal Society has established a working group of leading experts to draw up a set of recommendations on human population that could set the agenda for tackling the environmental stress caused by billions of extra people on the planet.
We really do have to look at where we are going in relation to population. If we don't do it, we may survive but we won't flourish. We will be examining the extent to which population is a significant factor in the challenge of securing global sustainable development, considering not just the scientific elements but encompassing the wider issues including culture, gender, economics and law.
The planet's population stands at 6.8 billion and although fertility rates in most countries are falling, the number of young people alive now who are destined to become parents in the future suggests that this figure could rise to 8.3 billion by 2030 and 9.2 billion by 2050.
Human numbers have shot up since the Industrial Revolution. In 1800, there were about a billion people, and by 1900 the figure was 1.7 billion. It then multiplied four-fold to six billion within a century, powered by advances in medicine and public health, cheap fossil fuels and a technical revolution in food production.
Much of the coming increase in human numbers will be in the poorest developing countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, where the population is set to rise by about 50% over the coming decades. Scientists estimate that food and energy production will have to increase by 50% and water availability by 30% to meet the demand caused by the extra 1.5 billion people living on Earth in the next two decades - an increase of nearly 10,000 people per hour.
Many countries have already exceeded their capacity to be self-sustainable without having to import resources. 77 out of 130 countries that have been studied can be classified as "overpopulated" based on the fact they are consuming more natural resources than they are producing. Britain's "ecological footprint" shows that it comes 17th in the table of overpopulated nations, which are dominated by the high-consuming countries of the Middle East and Europe.
If Britain had to rely on its biological resources, its sustainable population would be about 15 million rather than the present 60 million.
"Overpopulation is a much used and abuse word, but we believe the index helps to anchor it firmly in the realm of sustainability; of people living within the limits of the place they inhabit."
The "ecological footprint" was developed more than 15 years ago. It is a measure of the demand placed on the biosphere by human activity, calculating the amount of biologically productive land and water area required to produce all the resources that an individual, population or activity consumes, and also to absorb the waste they generate, given prevailing technology and resource management. The "footprint" is measured in global hectares, or average world productivity, allowing one area or population to be compared with another.
The Gendered Face of Climate ChangeNovember 20, 2009, Livemint.com
A new report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says that women, who make up a large share of the agricultural work force, are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but are also key players in mitigating its effects on humanity.
Women also manage households and care for family members, which restricts their mobility, so they often lack the social capital necessary to deal effectively with climate change.
On the other hand, woman often desire to reduce the number of children they might have, which would, in turn, reduce population growth, contributing to a reduction of greenhouse gas-emissions in the future.
The UNFPA report comes a few weeks before the Copenhagen climate talks and follows just a short time after the release of the World Economic Forum's gender gap index, which ranks India at 114 out of 134 countries, on the basis of economic participation, political participation, education and health.
Population growth plus a weakened economy in Burkina Faso have sparked calls for a new population control policy.
The population is growing at 3.1% a year, or more than 400,000 people, after factoring in deaths, which have declined over the past decade which requires immediate action. Burkina Faso's population nearly tripled over 30 years to more than 14 million people, cancelling out benefits from the country's 2008 5% economic growth.
From a conference at Redlands University in California, with speakers from the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and the Center for Environmental Studies -- Human population has a direct effect on environmental sustainability. If you look at the health of the planet's ecosystem, you find that humans have done more damage in the last 50 years than in the entirety of human existence, said the director of the Center for Environmental Studies. These things unfold over millennia, which is why politicians and the media don't pay attention. It is encouraging that people are realizing that having more children will limit their economic freedom. If we leave our future generations an impoverished planet, we're in for a lot of trouble. Less than 1% of the world's water is potable, and it is a challenge to walk 8 kilometers to obtain water for a family. Only .14% of the U.S. Federal Budget went to foreign aid. Only $425 million of the $1 billion we've pledged for the UNFPA has been contributed. A lack of family planning in the world was a crime against humanity. Environment and population control go hand-in-hand."
Trinidad and Tobago experienced a loss of natural vegetation equal to 0.8% a year over five years .Only 32.9% of natural vegetation remains. The Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) revealed a very nice place without the climatic or geological extremes of other nations. The downside is a small island with a population density of 266 people per sq km. The only reason for the environmental stresses "is us" and we have the capability to reverse these impacts. It was "urgent" that we "adopt specific measures" to deal with these challenges. EVI forms part of an effort by the UN to produce a global EVI spanning 235 countries that highlights the vulnerability of a country's environment in the future based on events from the recent past. Trinidad and Tobago ranked as the country with the eighth-least likely chance of halting "major environmental deterioration over the next several decades": 3,441 forest fires occurred between 1987 and 1992, destroying 46,942 ha ( about 114,538 acres ) of forest cover, but only 167 ha were reforested in that period. Tobago faced serious problems, but emerged a better place to live than Trinidad from an environmental standpoint. Tourism-driven Tobago falls badly with degradation/rate of habitat loss; loss of natural vegetation; water resources; and coastal settlements (stress on coastal ecosystems). The island scores "sixes" for its low percentage area of marine reserves; its hazardous municipal waste and human population density. The only good news was the performance in Trinidad of the Beetham Wastewater Treatment Plant that now treated all the raw sewage that once flowed from Port of Spain and suburbs east and west but it should be pumped by pipeline to Point Lisas for cooling industrial processes.
Population control was a big part of the environmental agenda when Earth Day was established in 1970. The Population Bomb, by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, was a bestseller. The executive director of the Sierra Club at that time, David Brower, said "You don't have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy." President Nixon's Commission on Population Growth and the American Future declared that the U.S. would be unlikely to meet its environmental goals unless its population was stabilized. However, since 1970, over 70 million people have been added to the U.S., an unprecedented increase.
Nearly half the population lives along our coasts where ecosystems are most fragile. Air and water pollution, traffic congestion, habitat destruction and loss of farmland are the consequences. "Sprawl" is treated as if it were separate and divorced from the weight of the extra humanity.
Immigration discussions in environmental groups such as the Sierra Club often lead to divisive internal squabbles. Immigrants seek admittance to the U.S. because of fear of political persecution, war, famine and deteriorating environmental conditions in their home countries, as well as for economic reasons. It would seem that strategic use of American development aid, coupled with family planning support, can help reduce these emigration pressures. Even minor adjustments to immigration levels could have major impact on our environmental stewardship. When we should be protecting our farms and dedicating new open space, we're paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.
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