Statements like "the overall livability of our world is in decline" and "our
failure to see the bigger picture" followed by "focusing on just one aspect
of it ... is myopic and stupid" really get under my skin.
It is in itself arrogant, and to use your word.... myopic. The U.S. has 2.3
billion acres of land. However, 375 million acres are in Alaska. The land
area of the lower 48 states is approximately 1.9 billion acres.
To put things in perspective, keep in mind that California is 103 million
acres, Montana 94 million acres, Oregon 60 million acres and Maine 20
million acres.Despite all the hand wringing over sprawl and urbanization,
only 66 million acres are considered developed lands. This amounts to 3
percent of the land area in the U.S.
Rural Residential Land-This category comprises nearly all sprawl and
subdivisions along with farmhouses scattered across the country The total
acreage for rural residential is 73 million acres. Of this total, 44 million
acres are lots of 10 or more acres.
Developed and rural residential make up 139 million acres, or 6.1 percent of
total land area in the U.S. This amount of land is not insignificant until
you consider that we planted more than 80 million acres of feeder corn and
another 75 million acres of soybeans (95 percent of which are consumed by
livestock, not tofu eaters) last year alone. These two crops affect more of
the land area of the U.S. than all the urbanization, rural residential,
highways, railroads, commercial centers, malls, industrial parks and golf
Cropland- About 349 million acres in the U.S. are planted for crops. This is
the equivalent of about four states the size of Montana. Four crops --
feeder corn (80 million acres), soybeans (75 million acres), alfalfa hay (61
million acres) and wheat (62 million acres) -- make up 80 percent of total
crop acreage. All but wheat are primarily used to feed livestock.
The amount of land used to produce all vegetables in the U.S. is less than 3
Range and Pasture Land- Some 788 million acres, or 41.4 percent of the U. S.
excluding Alaska, are grazed by livestock. This is an area the size of 8.3
states the size of Montana. Grazed lands include rangeland, pasture and
cropland pasture. More than 309 million acres of federal, state and other
public lands are grazed by domestic livestock. Another 140 million acres are
forested lands that are grazed.
Forest Land- Forest lands comprise 747 million acres. Of these lands, some
501 million acres are primarily forest (minus lands used for grazed forest
and other special categories).
The USDA report concludes that urbanization and rural residences
(subdivisions) "do not threaten the U.S. cropland base or the level of
agricultural production." This does not mean sprawl doesn't have impacts
where it occurs. But the notion that sprawl is the greatest threat to
biodiversity is absolutely false.