Earth Notes: Deleterious effects of population growth

164ASP944757289-443By Kenneth Roy

Neither the average conservationist nor the average conservative businessman has yet to seriously address the population explosion in the United States.

I became alarmed about 1960 when I saw what happened where I grew up in the New Bedford, Mass. area.  We were not rich by any means, but we managed to have a cottage in town and summer camp on Sassaquin Pond in the north end of New Bedford, an eight-mile distance between the two. That difference was like night and day. There were plenty of woods, fields and cranberry bogs in that eight-mile stretch. There were no highways nearby; even the road to Boston was a two-lane country road for miles. Today, that is all gone! A four-lane interstate runs right through the cranberry bogs; the woods are gone with subdivisions reaching out in every direction. Right then and there, I became a population environmentalist.

When I was born in 1940 the U.S. population was about 140 million and according to Edward Hartman in The Population Fix, in 1970 it was about 205 million, 1974 about 214 million, 1982 about 232 million and 1996 about 265 million. From 1969 to 1996, America’s population grew by approximately 62 million while five presidents figured out America’s rampant population growth was causing America major harm.

From the preceding historical review of presidential action and inaction, we can draw our own good news/bad news conclusions:

1. First, the good news is that intelligent politicians and members of their staffs know that rampant population growth in America and worldwide is a threat to America.

2. The bad news is that they have been unable to fathom a politically adroit way to address America’s addiction to population growth without, in their judgment, losing more votes than they gain.

The Summer 2009 edition of the Earth Island Journal states:

“It’s highly unlikely that life as we know it — or want it — can continue for long unless we rein in population growth. Too many measures indicate that the great mass of us burning fossil fuels, gobbling up renewable resources, and generating toxic trash is overloading our life support ecosystems. In the central North Pacific Ocean gyre, swirling plastic fragments now outweigh plankton 46 to one. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is far higher today than at any point in the past 650,000 years, and climbing. Nearly one in four mammals is threatened with extinction, as is one in three amphibians and a quarter of all conifers. In many parts of the world, including the High Plains of North America, human water use exceeds annual average water replenishment; the United Nations predicts that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. Unsustainable farming practices cause the destruction and abandonment of almost 30 million acres of arable land each year. The list runs far too long.”

Where are we now? Same spot, same battles. We shall never stabilize our population as long as we keep passing amnesty bills! Remember, our politicians promised President Reagan, who was very reluctant to sign the 1986 Amnesty Bill, that it would be the one and only. Since then, we have had seven more and this current one from the senate Gang of 8 is #8. So much for political promises!

Again, we cannot save the world and the way we are struggling economically, we can barely save ourselves. We are $18 trillion in debt and want to admit 12 million illegal aliens. Does that sound like a normal thinking process? A jumpstart to a better economy? Also, Americans use more resources than any other country. Growing our population hurts us and the rest of the world. We can have immigration as long as it equals emigration and includes no illegals. We can and we must balance our budget and stabilize our population. We owe this to our children and grandchildren. Don’t be shortsighted; think long-term.

Kenneth Roy is a resident of Center Lovell.

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