Letter Re: List of Countries by Real Population Density

James Wesley:
As they say in the radio world, “long time listener, first time caller”…

First off, thank you for sharing your words of wisdom for those of us who aren’t prepared.  Admittedly, I am one of those fence-sitters, liking the idea of prepping but not having near enough money to start in that direction, let alone uproot the new wife farther from her family than we already are.  Nonetheless, your articles (and those by your contributors on SurvivalBlog.com) are eye-opening and help me remind myself that we are just a few small steps from something really bad.

As to the purpose of my e-mail, I read Dr. Hugh’s article on Real Population Density, and the follow-up letters in which he asked someone to do research on which of the United States had the most arable land per person.  Since I’ve a keen mind for doing research (and had some free time to burn), I went to the USDA Economic Research Service web site, which gave me both the 2010 state populations and the number of acres of “cropland” (which I’m guessing is USDA-speak for arable land).  I modified the chart to show the same final data (people/sq km) as the previous chart mentioned, and I also sorted the chart in order of most amount to least amount of land.  Here’s the chart:

Population Density Table

As they taught me in college, statistics are of no use unless they are analyzed properly.  Here are some of my thoughts regarding the above data.

1)       The “breadbasket” states rose to the top, while most of the east coast (with the exception of Vermont) ranked near the bottom.  The usability of land is certainly a factor, but I wonder how much of this also has to do with how the states were drawn out during their founding.  If you recall your history, we tended to be much more liberal with our state sizes as we headed further out west.
2)      Alaska and Hawaii both ranked near the bottom.  That’s probably another good reason to not include them on the G.O.O.D. destination sites.
3)      There’s no distinction between the parts of the state that are heavily populated and the rest of the state (Chicago versus Illinois as a whole, for instance); this chart gives us what can best be described as a weighted average of the state.  Sort of on that note also, there’s no telling that residents of one state that rank low in arable land can’t just jump to a bordering state (Arizona to New Mexico is a good example).

One final note—that web site may be useful for other purposes related to prepping.  It also has data on top agricultural commodities exported, federal funds received, and farm financial indicators.  Please take a look.

Again, thank you for keeping us updated on how to better prepare ourselves for WTSHTF.  As they would say in the Navy, keep your head on a swivel.

Respectfully, – Mr. Anchovy