The population equation: exceeding carrying capacity

Published on December 2nd, 2012

The most avoided, ignored and evaded issue the United States faces grows more portentous by the day: human overpopulation. Our leaders, the main stream media and average citizens continuously suppress overpopulation's consequences. Too few understand what an added 138 million people to the United States during the next 38 years will mean to water, energy, resources, quality of life and standard of living.

This "Human Katrina" advancing on our civilization via endless immigration deserves more than a wink and a nod. Instead elected officials and the media avoid overpopulation for political correctness reasons.

The nation needs to address overpopulation now to limit its manifestation in three decades.

It boils down to “carrying capacity.” A glass carries only so much water. A restaurant seats a limited amount of patrons. An airplane holds limited passengers and not one single added person above the number of seats on the plane. Finite space dictates how many.


In 1970, when U.S. population hit 200 million, we began to exceed our carrying capacity. Peak oil as defined by the "Hubbert Curve" indicated that the US oil production would drop production from nine million barrels daily to less than three million barrels. That’s what happened.  Today, we produce about 2.6 million barrels daily, import about 70 percent percent, or about 16 out of 22 million barrels daily. We exceeded our energy carrying capacity forty years ago along with “carbon footprint.” (Source: www.350.org )

Author and social critic James Howard Kunstler wrote:

"The cheap oil age created an artificial bubble of plentitude for a period not much longer than a human lifetime….so I hazard to assert that as oil ceases to be cheap and the world reserves move toward depletion, we will be left with an enormous population…that the ecology of the earth will not support. The journey back toward non-oil population homeostasis will not be pretty. We will discover the hard way that population hyper growth was simply a side-effect of the oil age. It was a condition, not a problem with a solution. That is what happened and we are stuck with it."

Don't think advancing technology will save us. Nothing on the horizon equals the energy density of oil. In order to drive cars, boats, planes and fuel industry, Americans use 20 million barrels of oil daily while the rest of the world burns 62 million barrels. That equals 82 million barrels of oil every 24 hours.

To show how much energy oil provides the U.S. annually, Michael Brownlee of www.transitionbouldercounty.org provided a graph of one cubic mile of oil. That's how much oil humans burn around the planet annually, an amount equal to the energy provided by 52 nuclear power plants built every year for 50 years or 104 operating coal-fired electrical plants built every year for 50 years or 32,000 wind turbines built every year for 50 years — and in continuous operation — or 91 million solar panels built every year for 50 years.

In other words, once oil depletes, civilization as we know it would end. We could alter the future's course by stabilizing U.S. population so that the nation would live within its carrying capacity for water, land, energy and other natural resources.

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