“The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct. To say, as many do, that the difficulties of nations are not due to people but to poor ideology and land-use management is sophistic.”Harvard scholar and biologist E.O. Wilson
According to Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Charles Gibson, the United States surpassed 300,000,000 people in October 2006. The U.S. Census Bureau, based on accelerating growth levels, shows America adding 100 million people by 2035.
For those asleep at the wheel—that’s three decades from now—a blink in time.
To place this kind of horrific growth rate into perspective, it resembles a “Human Tsunami.” Much like nature’s earthquakes that occurred beneath the ocean several years ago in Sri Lanka, the energy wave sped under the surface for hours and hundreds of miles without notice. Once it hit the shoreline, it created cataclysmic devastation and tens of thousands of deaths. Why? No one suspected it. None took action to save themselves. They didn’t know it raced toward them. Once it hit, everyone became victims! That tsunami rendered human tragedy of epic proportions!
Fast forward to 2005, another kind of natural disaster erupted in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Katrina approached the U.S. Gulf Coast featuring 200 mile per hour winds. For a week before it hit, everyone witnessed swirling clouds funneling high in the heavens on TV sets. Five different kinds of people reacted to the news reports:
1. People assessed the danger and drove any kind of vehicle they could procure out of the hurricane area. They acted on their knowledge and proved proactive.
2. Some said, “We’ve ridden out these hurricanes before so we can ride this one out, too.” They thought from the past and acted as if history would serve them in the present. Some survived and some died. Thinking in the past!
3. Others said, “Let’s wait and see!” Those people suffered traffic jams, death, burning busses, gas stations without fuel and miles of Interstates jammed with the same kind of people. Some died and some survived. Pot luck thinking!
4. Still others said, “Maybe it will change course or drop down to a Category “1” storm.” ‘Maybe’ came with a high price tag. They became victims or survivors. They resorted to chance rather than personal actions!
5. The poor could not drive away or afford transport. They became victims beyond their own choices.
A Human Katrina slams America
In 1963, the United States featured a stable population of 194 million people. America accepted 170,000 persons as the annual legal immigration rate. At the same time, that many people departed the United States annually. Births and deaths matched one another. Thus--a stable population! However, change burst upon the scene.
In 1965, the U.S. Senate passed the “Immigration Reform Act” shepherded by Senator Teddy Kennedy. Lyndon Baines Johnson signed it without fanfare--jumping immigration rates to 1.1 and as high as 1.4 million annually.
Within 41 years, the United States added 106 million people through October 2006. That new benchmark set the stage for adding 100 million more by 2035. How? Moving into the 21st century, not only legal, but massive illegal immigration pours over U.S. borders.
Time Magazine’s feature story on September 20, 2004, “What Happened?” estimated three million people crossing into America illegally every year.
The U.S. Senate in June 2007 attempted passage of S.B. 1369 that would have doubled current immigration levels from 1.2 million to 2.4 million annually. It increased work visas by tens of thousands. It continued allowances for millions in chain migration. It allowed millions more in anchor babies which constitute children of persons that entered the United States illegally. The senate bill did nothing to stop illegal immigration. The bill failed five times, while senators continued pressing for greater population influx into the United States.
American citizens face a challenging future
What about overloaded cities? Overwhelmed schools? How about water, farm land, energy, air quality, food sources, species habitat, and dozens of other issues?
What do we as a nation face if we allow this “Human Katrina” to crash upon our shores? It negatively affects every aspect of our society: environment, sustainability, culture, language and viability as a civilization.
Unfortunately, no national leader promotes a strategic population initiative. That leaves our civilization at risk and at the whim of a future explored by Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond in his book: COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. As a leading anthropologist, he discovered why civilizations of the past fell into ruin.
Dilemma of the 21st century
Dr. Albert Bartlett of the University of Colorado asked the most prominent question of the 21st century: “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally or globally?”
In 1900, the world population reached 1.6 billion; today, it exceeds 6.7 billion. By mid century experts expect world population to grow to a low of 9.2 to as high as 9.8 billion. (Source: Population Reference Bureau)
According to March 14, 2005 Time Magazine, eight million people already starve to death around the planet annually. Over 35 percent of humanity lacks clean drinking water. Species extinction exceeds thousands annually.
What do we hope to accomplish by adding another 3.0 billion people to the planet with consequences already crushing us with current population levels?
In the next 50 years, if we continue on this path, you can expect 1.0 million to as many as 3.0 million more people added to your state depending on location. Once their numbers manifest, they won’t vanish. Why? Because, at the same time, that 100 million people spread to other states! Texas adds 12 million by 2025, while Arizona adds four million and California adds 20 million by 2035.
Finite carrying capacity
Today, states like Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California don’t possess enough water for their residents. Aquifers degrade as fast as diesel engines pump them dry. No matter how many reservoirs we build, nature won’t rain or snow more to accommodate added millions of people. Water shortages and rationing will become the norm while green lawns become as extinct as five cent candy bars.
At the same time, states like Colorado lost 1.65 million acres of prime farm land to development in the past 10 years. Why? Adding 1.3 million people requires homes, roads, malls and commercial buildings. Colorado will add five million more by 2050. Latest reports show Colorado losing 3.1 million more acres by 2022. How many by 2050? An additional 2.0 million more acres will be placed under concrete and asphalt via roads, malls and housing. Ask yourself: have you ever seen cows grazing on concrete or corn growing out of pavement? What will be the acreage losses in your state? Your losses will be commensurate to your population growth.
While we exceed the land’s carrying capacity, we squeeze ourselves in like sardines with “smart growth” and “slow growth” and “managed growth.” Any way you stack it, growth adds vehicles, homes, power plants, malls and smoke stacks. Have you noted increased traffic in your city? Have you seen the Brown Cloud thicken in toxicity over your area? How about the bumper-to-bumper traffic?
How about your quality of life? Standard of living? What about species extinction? Air pollution? Acid rain? Crowding of national parks? Lakes? Streams? How about soil erosion?
We drive this population train toward the edge of the Grand Canyon—blind, deaf and clueless. Lacking a strategic plan, commensurate vision statements and a full-set of first-class actions—we swell ourselves into a world of hurt. We can take action by applying the brakes now, but once we careen over the edge, we become powerless.
When will local and national leaders speak out? When will newspapers, TV and radio talk shows deal with our number one crisis: population? For a hint of our future, visit www.thesocialcontract.com for the Social Contract Quarterly.
Of the five types of choices people made concerning Hurricane Katrina, as a nation, what choices will we make? Take action now? Wait and see? Think we will ride it out again like we rode it out before? Pray for this population juggernaut to change course? Or, resign and become victims for sure?
Each of us rides on Spaceship Earth. Perhaps Chief Seattle said it best, “All things and all peoples are connected.”
In the end, our children and future generations walk into the cross hairs of our poor choices today.
This book invites you to educate yourself with critical thinking, standing tall—and then, taking action. Your children and future residents of America will look back and thank you for bequeathing them a sustainable civilization and planet.