"If growth is like an overflowing bathtub, then focusing on smart-growth is like frantically mopping up the floor.
Wouldn't it be easier to turn off the faucet?"
Replacing the procreation habit with a sustainability ethic
Overpopulation is a clear example of the "tragedy of the commons."
Historically, the U.S. has been a relief valve for other societies burdened by overpopulation and corrupt governments.
But this tradition is not sustainable, and open borders would lead to a massive acceleration in growth and development.
In fact, our post-modern push for free trade in goods and labor
can and does undermine sustainability in regional, national and global communities
The essential point is that our population cannot rise indefinitely. And
the fundamental question is: if we do not stabilize the population now, then when? An excellent review of
the overpopulation problem in the United States is available in the book
The Population Fix by Edward Hartman.
Groups opposing population stabilization are diverse and very well funded; they include:
The opposition uses at least two propaganda tools to manipulate public opinion. First, they appeal to traditional, albeit unsustainable, cultural norms (e.g., "we are a society of immigrants"). Second, they foment unsubstantiated fears that anyone wishing to stabilize population must, by default, also hold irrational positions such as wanting more abortions, or wanting government control over reproductive rights, or wanting to ignore the plight of third-world peoples. By doing so, the opposition tries to denigrate good people who hold politically progressive values and who sincerely want to protect mankind and our world from ignorance and greed.
- most business and investment concerns (want cheap labor and more consumers)
- the Growth Machine (wants more development)
- Big Government and the Military Industrial Complex
(want more tax revenues to fund big programs that benefit party members, campaign donors, large military budgets, etc.)
- Political parties that encourage the conception (Republican) or importation (Democrat) of more members
for their parties even though these actions reduce the quality-of-life for most all citizens.
If you are also interested in groups focused on overpopulation in your state or region, check out these organizations:
The following websites and publications also focus, at least in part, on U.S. overpopulation:
The following groups operate at the national level; none of them are nativist or racist. We strongly urge you to become a member of, or contribute to, at least one of these organizations.
- Center for Population and Environment issued this report in August, 2006 -
U.S. National Report on Population and the Environment
- Sierrans for US Population Stabilization (www.susps.org) continues its valiant effort
for returning the Sierra Club to its conservation roots
- The Rewilding Institute (www.rewilding.org) - Dave Foreman's
"Around the Campfire" newsletters are both delightful and informative reading
- The Population Press (www.populationpress.org)
provides some great articles via its on-line newletters
- The Population Media Center (www.populationmedia.org) encourages entertainment
media in developing countries to air family-planning-friendly
programming. PMC has been extremely successful, and its model
needs to be applied in the U.S. Mr. Ryerson has a keen interest in
stabilizing U.S. population and distributes very interesting
information via e-mail. To be added to his "Population List"
e-mail distribution list, just send him an e-mail request.
- Die-off (www.dieoff.org ) -
Our dependence on cheap, non-renewable energy has resulted in a population level that
cannot be supported when the oil and coal run out. The crisis will occur during the lifetimes of
young people today.
Publications by Lindsey Grant (through www.npg.org)
and Andrew Ferguson (www.optimumpopulation.org) also focus on this issue.
Smart Growth won't help
Opponents of population stabilization may claim that population growth can be accommodated by the application
of “Smart Growth” policies. These policies put new housing developments into high-density structure, nearby
mass transit, etc. But even the best “Smart Growth” policies cannot cure the fact that between 15-30 acres of
land are required to support a typical American
(www.myfootprint.org). Each of us needs this much land to grow
our food, generate our energy, clean our wastes, build our workplaces, roads, stores recreation facilities, etc.
So no matter how “smart” a development works in adding 5,000 new residents to a community, mankind will need to
appropriate at least an additional 75,000 acres or 120 sq.miles of land to accommodate that development. In a
democracy where citizens are responsible for the actions of their governments, many of us do not support such decisions.
Others do it. Why can't we?
Many countries in Western Europe - even those such as Italy and Ireland with large Roman Catholic
majorities - have stabilized their populations.
And they do it while fully respecting individual human rights.
Creating worthy places for our great, great grandchildren