2006/10/15

300,000,000

As I write this, we (the United States) are about 11,200 people away from hitting the 300 million mark. Interestingly, among all the doom and gloom articles that I've read about this event, there are some, like this article in the San Jose Mercury News that present population growth as a good thing. I don't agree. I'm old enough to remember when the population of our nation hit 200,000,000...barely, and the differences between then, 1967, and now are profound and disturbing.

Even if we accept, as the San Jose Mercury News suggests, that oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium are abundant enough to keep us well supplied through the next century, consuming 1/5 of all the world's energy resources is not a good thing. Doubling the amount of highway capacity, as we will have to do to accommodate the next 100M people, traveling further to their jobs, is not a good thing. 12 lanes of Interstate 75 through the center of Atlanta (I just returned from a vacation in the South) is not a good thing. Endless processions of big-rig traffic on every Interstate, US highway, state road, and municipal street is not a good thing. More cars than drivers in the US, is not a good thing. 4-car garages are not a good thing. Being unable, as a practical matter, to escape the presence of humanity is not a good thing, and the impact of that on the environment cannot be understated. Reaching the tipping point of global climate change is not a go--no strike that--it's a very, Very, VERY bad thing, and another 100M isn't going to help.

The United States needs to work to stabilize it's population so that future generations--our descendants, immigrants, whoever--can enjoy lives as rich as the one's we enjoy. It's not enough to merely throw up our hands and say, "We have enough resources for the present. So what does it matter how much we use now?" Why divide the pie 400 million ways?

18 Comments:

It's not that we have so many people as much as we're not utilizing our resources correctly. We need to look more at sustainability rather than squandering, and we need to ensure and preserve more green spaces left undisturbed by development and land mismanagement.
Which would be difficult to maintain under the tuberculosis of capitalism.
The earth is over populated. On the micro level we are as beautiful as a crystalline fractal, on the macro we are rust, we are mold, we are decay.

Nothing's for certain
It could always go wrong
Come in when it's raining
Go on out when it's gone
We could have us a high time
living the good life
Well I know
I think that just about everyone on the planet should really think about joining a moratorium on having kids until we sort a few things out. Like getting parents for all the kids that need to be adopted. Maybe adopt two kids for every kid you have? Something like that? How about a one to one ratio? No?
People generally are too self-centered to care about over-population or saving our resources. We have to force them to save the resources..I have no clue how to get them to quit breeding..

I had one and I was done. So I probably don't have any room to speak about breeding.
I recall a tv interview with Arthur C. Clarke in the 80's where he was delineating the problems of overpopulation (many of which you've listed). Eventually the interviewer asks, "so, what would you consider the optimum human population figure?" ACC says, "10%". Stunned, the interviewer pauses, then says "ohhh, you mean 10% less than the current level?" ACC fires back, "No, 10% OF the current level, a 90% reduction!"

I had that same stunned reaction, but the ensuing decades are making it clear life would be much easier with a lot less human imprint. Question is who get to be in the 10% (or whatever % is deemed optimal)? Too Dr. Strangelove? Well, stabilization MAY work in a country like ours that still has much open space & resources.

My parents ea came from large families & had 4 children. My brother & I chose not to have any. Then my 2 sisters had *7* between them. So much for zero-sum net gain! ~~ D.K.
Lew, I definitely agree with your observations on sustainability, but I still think that population control should be a very high priority. If you expand the observation to all 6.3B people, we can see the measurable impact of human population growth. How will we fare when world population reaches...say...8 billion?

SA, your observations about adoption are interesting. Before deciding not to have (raise) any children, the Frogette and I considered going the adoption route. I, for one, have never had much attachement to a child of mine necessarily being my biological offspring.
Dusty, it certainly is a difficult sell, but look at what's happened in Europe... Many countries (especially the 'Catholic' ones) have zero or negative population growth.

D.K., ACC is probably correct, though I tend to think that a world population about half of what we have now would reduce our impact to a sustainable level. Of course as we speed toward the 8B mark, 3B seems unreachable...that is...without a cataclysm.
We have negative growth in the CZ which presents its own set of problems.

Kvatch, do you know the Highway 12 interchange in Santa Rosa. This thing is a total dinosaur that needed help when I was a kid in the 70s. Nothing has been done to it, and the traffic is a nightmare. Sonoma County doesn't have the funds to do the improvement, and honestly, there isn't a whole lot of room there to do much even if there was money for it.

And even if they could do an improvement, for the 2 years it would take, that place would be a total nightmare.

For me, this is typical of the United States over the last couple of decades. A lack of investment in crucial infrastructure is going to come home to roost soon. I was shocked at the level of disrepair on the 101 corridor. Marin is great, but Sonoma county is hurting.

I can't imagine that place with another 50% population growth over the next 30 years. Insane.

But, then again, think about Shanghai. They manage.
i hate to be doom and gloom about this

but

the way we-all are poisioning ourselves with delpated urauium and viruses like aids

we will wittle outselves down to 10% of the population is no time

my guess would be two generations

on another note:

some say that the downfall of our population will be infertility...we will loose the inability to reproduce naturally
We have been a nation of "bigger is better" for so long we're nearly incapable of thinking in terms of any resource being finite.
I think Bush is doing a pretty good job of cutting down the population.
Praguetwin, I know that stretch, and they are working on it. So...no matter how bad you thought it was, it's ten times worse right now. Mass transit with high-speed rail corridors on the coasts, in Florida, and in the Midwest are the only way to go IMHO.

AZG, like I said cataclysm is gonna get us in the end, but you're right on the infertility issue--might get us first.

TFWY, sure looks that way, doesn't it? Take all the 'McMansions', for example.

Mary, he's certainly talking the big talk on immigration, but so far much of our growth still comes from immigration, but lest I be tagged as 'anti-immigration', I'm really not. I think that immigration keeps this country vital.
Unfortunately, countries that begin going down the "slippery slope" of population control almost inevitably end up with a "dump the baby girls in a field to starve and die" problem.

Now, while this works on a certain level, as long as nobody saves those baby girls (If all you end up with is a country full of baby boys and no females... eventually the population IS going to reduce), It's just really NOT an answer I'm prepared to live with.

Especially since my niece was one of those baby girls left in a rice paddy in China.
Sewmouse, I think that I may not have expressed myself very well on this issue. When I say 'population control', I don't mean government mandated laws or initiatives. It would always be my hope that people would choose on their own to have fewer children.

Practically speaking with immigration rates where they are currently, we'd have to voluntarily reach 1 child per family (actually slightly less) pretty quickly to achieve zero growth.
Iwas being sarcastic regarding the lives lost in the war.
Iwas being sarcastic regarding the lives lost in the war.

Sorry...didn't pick up on the reference. Read a recent article that stated that the Iraqi lives lost is in the neighborhood of 600,000--tragic.
I think you may be onto something here Kvatch - in terms of population, more isn't always better. In fact, if we factor in the ever increasing size of China, we may simply explode the earth at her seams if we don't instill the values of sustainablity in the current batch of generations.
I live in a severely overpopulated metropolitan region in the southwest. Who would have thought the desert could be overpopulated right here in the USA? The problem where I live is, people are indeed reproducing more than normal (I personally know families with as many as 12 children)and most of them are on welfare.

Sooner than later our federal government is going to have to adopt the one child policy.

As a side note I am deliberately child free, I have done my civic duty for AZ, the USA, and ultimately, the whole planet Earth.

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