National Geographic Magazine
P.O. Box 96095
Washington, DC 20090-6095

Dear Editor,

The map on pages 56-57 of the July 2001 National Geographic article on urban sprawl falls far below your usual high cartographic standards. Based on satellite detection of "faint sources of infrared emissions," not urbanization, this map exaggerates urbanization by five to ten times.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that 96 percent of the contiguous 48 states remains rural, but the colored areas on your map cover far more than 4 percent of the land area.

This error was compounded by a one-sided article that failed to even mention the numerous experts, including U.S.C.'s Peter Gordon, Harry Richardson, and Genevieve Giuliano, who have shown that low-density suburbs are the solution to, not the cause of, congestion, high taxes, and pollution.

Meanwhile, Portland Oregon is proving that smart growth increases congestion, makes housing unaffordable, and gobbles up urban open spaces through so-called "infill."

Russians say that "Americans don't have real problems, so they make them up." Urban sprawl is one of those made-up problems.

Yours truly,


Randal O'Toole
The Thoreau Institute
P. O. Box 1590
Bandon, Oregon 97411

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