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A Football Field’s Worth Of Natural Land Is Lost Every 30 Seconds In The US

An icon of America’s natural wonder: A giant Sequoia in the Sequoia National Park and Forest in California, USA. welcomia/Shutterstock

As far as the loss of natural land is concerned, this isn’t just a disaster for the Amazon or the rain forests of Southeast Asia. The United States is facing the same problem, because its forests, grasslands, wetlands, and deserts are disappearing at a very frightening pace. 

In the United States, at the period between 2001 and 2017, some 97,124 square kilometers (24 million acres) of natural land – almost equaling the size of Indiana – were destroyed to make way for the roads, infrastructure, industry, farms, and other hallmarks marking the human civilization. Put it in another way, it means that the piece of land equivalent to the size of a football field is being lost every 30 seconds. 

According to the study lasting for sixteen years, the South and Midwest have seen some of the most profound losses. In these areas, human development took over 47 percent and 59 percent in relation to all land area, respectively.

These findings are released recently in a new report by The Center for American Progress, which is a liberal think tank and public policy research organization. With help of available satellite data and open-source databases, the staff at the Center  calculated the rate of loss of natural lands as well as the relationship between such loss and oil and gas extraction, road construction, urban sprawl, agriculture, and other human-related activities.

As the report predicted, if such national trends continue, expanse of forests, wetlands, and wild places equaling to the size of the State of South Dakota in the continental United States would be lost by 2050.

With a growing climate crisis and further infrastructure development, the report had raised a very realistic question to be answered, that is: How much nature should America keep? 

At present, only 12 percent of land area of the United States has been conserved as national parks, wilderness areas, national monuments, or other protected areas, while 26 percent of ocean territory is safeguarded against oil and gas extraction.

In today’s situation, it is suggested by the report that  it’s now time to raise this level of protection even higher. Based on current scientific recommendations, it was concluded in this report that at least 30 percent of lands and oceans of the United States should be protected in a natural state by 2030.

However, it isn’t all apocalyptic doom and gloom. The report conclude on a remarkably optimistic note that the United States was moving into an era in which it would focus more than ever on the integrity and stability of the natural world in order to maintain  economic prosperity, ensure the safe health of communities, and weather the effects of a changing climate.

The report was quite certain that with the  remarkable track record in solving environmental problems in the United States, it would be reasonable to have confidence that the United States could  conserve enough lands, waters, and wildlife to support a healthy, just, and prosperous society for generations to come.

On the other hand, the report was cautious about future actions. It had to be clear that the scale and scope of the challenge ahead was huge and pressing . To protect 30 percent of lands and oceans of the country by 2030, the Unites States should make every effort to act in every domain, in every  geography, and in the interest of every community