Zakcq Lockrem 
Member since Jul 2, 2009


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Re: “You're Not an Environmentalist If You're Also a NIMBY

Blaming urban sprawl on population growth, especially in the United States, is unfounded. There's pretty much no correlation between sprawl and population growth. For thousands of years, population increases were dealt with in urban areas through increased density, not through consumption of more land. Indeed, the necessity of supplying people in the city with food made it next to impossible to expand to far into the hinterland. In the United States, primarily in the last 60 years, density has decreased at the same time that we've greatly expanded our housing stock and the amount of space that each house sits on as well as decreased the number of multi-family or multi-generational dwellings. There are now roughly 1.3 houses per household in America and the average size of both lots and living space has doubled since 1950. This is despite the fact that the average size of a household has shrunk (from around 3.5 to around 2) in the same period of time. That means fewer people are taking up more space. Even beyond all of that, the main reason for the expansion of the number of households in the US over the last 40 or 50 years is not birthrates, but rather the massive expansion of divorce (which produces two houses on one acre lots rather then one). The average number of children per women in the US is only 2.09, which only breaks even. The issue is not with the amount of people, but rather how much those people choose to consume.

If you're interested in a further discussion on these issue, I'd recommend Robert Breugmann's book Sprawl for a good discussion of American growth and Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population by Matthew Connelly for a very interesting look at population issues.

Posted by Zakcq Lockrem on 07/02/2009 at 4:10 PM

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