Five Ways Immigration – Driven Population Growth Impacts our Environment
Chapter 3 in our book “Globalization and Diversity” titled North America is about how the North American region plays a vital role in globalization with its urbanized and culturally diverse populations. It is also about how North America has a population of 355 million people with a large-scale economy and vast economic growth who have the largest consumers of natural resources on the earth. It also talks about environmental challenges and issues like acid rain, threatened coastlines, drought, scarce water, and population growth. The chapter talks are in-depth about how immigrants have settled into North America dating back to 12,000-25,000 years ago. Over the last 400 years, that settlement has accelerated and transformed the region into new patterns of settlement with 355 million people occupying the land. I was able to find an article titled “Five Ways Immigration – Driven Population Growth Impacts Our Environment” written by Matthew Sussi on November 19, 2018, which argues that “population growth in the United States is almost entirely driven by the federal government’s immigration policy.” He goes on to quote that the 2060 census bureau predicts that the population will grow from 325.5 million people to 403.7 million people. He argues that with this growth, we as Americans and citizens of the earth have an obligation to consider how this growth will impact the world around us. He further argues that although federal agencies like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are supposed to consider environmental impacts when new laws are introduced, they have completely ignored their responsibilities and in so doing, they are creating five impacts that will affect our environment and living conditions.
The first is the threat to species extinction and the destruction of animal habitats as immigrants take over grasslands and destroy valuable resources that animals need to survive. Currently, there are 1300 endangered species and with a growing population that will require more resources and demands more resources by invading farmlands, grasslands, beaches, etc., endangered animals and species will have fewer places to live.
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The second is a threat is water shortages. With population growth comes more and more of a demand for water which burdens existing supplies. This strain, as well as climate changes, results in less rainfall, snowpack, and higher environmental temperatures that contribute to water shortages which affect our environment.
The third threat is urban sprawl which is the result of immigration increasing the population, creating disproportion and ultimately expanding cities. This expansion creates development that takes over grasslands and farmlands which as stated earlier, has an effect on the environment and its species.
The fourth threat mentioned in the article is overcrowded cities. Immigrants tend to settle in or near cities for cultural or economic reasons. This creates more of a strain on public utilities and overcrowding which directly creates transportation issues. The fifth and final threat that the article talks about is higher carbon emissions. The article states that according to the “CIS study, U.S. immigrants produce an estimated 637 million tons of CO2 annually, which is 482 million tons more than these immigrants would have produced had they remained in their home countries.”
I found this article quite interesting. Lately, immigration has been discussed because of its social impacts on people and society as well as its political implications but it goes much further than just those areas. It also involves our responsibility to our environment and our future. Perhaps we should address ways that we can encourage responsible immigration that preserves our country and environment. Perhaps also we should hold our federal agencies accountable for their obligations and responsibilities to weigh the environmental impact of their policies.