The United States is losing natural land at an alarming rate, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress (CAP). If these trends continue, then by 2050 the United States may lose the area of natural land equivalent to the size of South Dakota.
The report, authored by Matt Lee-Ashley, senior director of environmental strategy and communications at CAP, found that the United States lost a soccer field the size of natural land every thirty seconds between 2001 and 2017.
These losses can be prevented, according to the report, but it will require serious efforts to preserve and protect the wilderness and natural spaces of America.
“This report argues that the question is,” how much nature should America save? “… should be the subject of urgent national conversation,” the report says. “Much like climate change, America must confront the crisis of environmental protection head-on and face the role that it wants nature to play in society, the economy and communities in the coming decades.”
To assess land losses over the years, CEP has attracted the assistance of environmental science partners (CSP).
CSP researchers have created a detailed map of the footprint of humanity throughout the United States, excluding Hawaii and Alaska from 2001 to 2017. Satellite data and publicly available data sets were used to help map how much land was lost as a result of human activities.
Over 24 million acres of land have been lost for development in 16 years studied. In the Midwest, 59 percent of all land was lost to farms, cities, power plants, and other infrastructure and development initiatives shown in the report.
If these trends continue, then by 2050 the United States may lose the area of natural land equivalent to the size of South Dakota.
CAP has several recommendations to ensure that the United States does not lose more natural land and biodiversity than necessary.
Researchers say that if countries in the world committed to protecting 30 percent of their land and oceans by 2030, this could go far in ensuring that our ecosystem does not degrade beyond the point of no return.
Only 12 percent of all US land is currently protected by law.
“Protecting 30 percent of the world’s terrestrial and marine habitats will not only reduce extinction and preserve food supplies, drinking water and clean air, but also help prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, the threshold beyond which According to scientists, the costs and consequences of climate change are significantly deteriorating, ”the report said.