Elon Musk is correct here:
To illustrate, it is said that the U.S. population uses about 7% of the land for where people live, but even that is misleading: About 3% to 4% is in cities and the rest of that slice is in rural areas with low concentrations of people.
Look at a map of the U.S. – most of the country’s population lives in about two dozen very large metropolitan areas.
I once worked with a legal immigrant who escaped the Soviet Union and eventually arrived in the U.S. She had flown into New York City, then later to Los Angeles, crossing the country at night. All she had seen was dense population and she thought this was how the entire U.S. was (seriously). Get out of the cities and most of the country is farmland, ranch land, and in the west, BLM and USFS lands, much of which you cannot see because they are vast and there may not be easy road access.
Perhaps 20 years ago, I read an item, perhaps in National Geographic, that 30% of the world’s surface was still not mapped in detail, which I assume means, closely evaluated for plant life, minerals exploration and so on.
That said, we do see pressures from larger population. It is no longer possible in the U.S., for example, to drop into a summer campground without have made reservations, sometimes, months in advance. When you wait in long lines at the grocery store, or are stuck in jammed traffic, you are seeing the effects of population increases firsthand. Perhaps we could fix these with better infrastructure but for now, we are way behind where we need to be.
The original Benzinga. com story implies Musk is wrong and quotes a figure that the U.S. is 82% urbanized. Benzina has misunderstood what that means – it means 82% of the U.S. population lives in cities which, in fact, supports what Musk is saying. I tried to contact the staff writer but there is no obvious way to reach him.