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Jacksonville IS the Biggest City in the U.S., Area-wise

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Here’s a letter to an e-mail corresondent:

5 March 2011

Mr./Ms. “Bill McKibben”

Dear Mr./Ms. “McKibben”:

I assume that you aren’t the Bill McKibben, but your choice of a nom de plume is revealing.

You ask, in response to my blog-post in which I criticize Jeff Sachs for his enviro-hysteria [2], how I can “be so lame and uninformed” as not to “realize” that the earth is “overcrowded; overused; over its limit of sustaining life.”

My response is simple: show me hard evidence that humanity is on the verge of calamity.  Show me hard evidence of general resource depletion.  Show me hard evidence that the quality of human life is declining, or destined to decline, over time.  Show me hard evidence of overcrowding.

There’s plenty of evidence against your propositions [3]; show me some evidence to support them.

Actually, it’s coincidental that you mention overcrowding.  Just this morning my friend Barry Connor sent me the following e-mail: “If all [7 billion] people on earth were given an area of 3.5 sq. ft. (18″ x 28″), they all could stand in the City of Jacksonville, Florida.  This calculation is accurate.  Check it out.  Literally, we have barely scratched the surface of the earth.”

True, 3.5 square feet per person ain’t much room, but Jacksonville is only a tiny fraction of all land in the U.S. – and its size is a rounding error in relation to the amount of land in the earth’s temperate zones.

Do you have contrary evidence or arguments that the earth is, in fact, overcrowded?

Donald J. Boudreaux

UPDATE: My colleague, the great Walter Williams, reminded me of this 1999 short essay he wrote on this topic. [4]