300 million Americans

In: Uncategorized

14 Oct 2006

The fact that the number of Americans is predicted to hit 300 million this coming Tuesday – up from 200m in 1967 – has provoked a mixed response. Lester Brown, a veteran environmentalist, is predictably miserable. In a recent dispatch from his Earth Policy Institute he argued that:

“Population growth is the ever expanding denominator that gives each person a shrinking share of the resource pie. It contributes to water shortages, cropland conversion to non-farm uses, traffic congestion, more garbage, overfishing, crowding in national parks, a growing dependence on imported oil, and other conditions that diminish the quality of our daily lives.”

Much more positive and accurate was an op-ed piece entitled “The kids are all right” by John Tierney in the New York Times on 14 October. He made the correct point that human beings are producers as well as consumers. In other words, we may create problems but we also have the capacity to solve them. Or, as he eloquently put it:

“In the long debate about overpopulation and famine, none of the gloomy projections by intellectuals proved to be as prescient as an old proverb in farming societies: “Each extra mouth comes attached to two extra hands.” No matter what problems lie ahead, the good news on Tuesday will be that America has 600 million hands to solve them.”

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