The population equation: lack of water

Published on January 4th, 2013

"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," said Harvard biologist Dr. E.O. Wilson.

Ironically, everyone demands cleaner air, but few demand a corresponding stop to economic and human growth. Cure gridlock traffic but let expansion continue. Halt species extinction but never end development. Let’s solve climate change but leave growth which causes climate change alone. Work on alternative energy but let progress continue. We insist on lower water prices but allow housing starts to continue. In other words, let’s attempt to solve our energy, water and climate change predicament by dealing with a pyramid of effects but doing nothing to address the root cause. That’s like a three-pack-a-day smoker who wants his lung cancer cured, but he blurts, “I am willing to try any solution to cure my lung cancer as long as you don’t tell me to stop smoking.”

The United States’ population stands at 315 million. New immigrants (legal and illegal) plus births to immigrants add some 2.3 million people to the United States each year, accounting for most of the nation's population increase. By 2035, U.S. population will hit an unsustainable 438 million. Unfortunately, Mother Nature won’t produce more rain or snow nor does she create more ground water that will be necessary just to water and feed those extra 138 million.

While California has struggled with water issues for decades, none of its leaders addresses the fact that demographers expect the state to add 20 to nearly 60 million within 30 years or less.

“Decreases in winter snow packs are likely to be most noticeable during the next 30 years and will continue to shrink through the century,” said Noah Diffenbaugh at Stanford's Department of Environmental Earth System Science. "One clear result is that western North America shows the most rapid and largest response to the continued emissions of greenhouse gases when it comes to early snow-melt and spring runoff.”

The Colorado River provides dry-as-a-bone states like Arizona, Nevada and California with water that won’t match their population growth in the near future. Ironically, National Public Radio often reports on the consequences of overpopulation but without mentioning the root cause: immigration and lack of family planning.

S+R=O: Situation plus response=outcome

Cause and effect equal results. When we add population, we cannot expand our finite resources such as water, energy and space. Thus, the worldwide disasters you read about like starvation and poverty may become more widespread throughout America.

Politicians and businessman advocate growth, apparently blind to the inevitable consequences. Let’s create new paradigms for the 21st century: a “U.S. Stabilized Population Policy” or a “U.S. Conservation Water Policy.” Nationally, we should strive for a “U.S. Sustainable Immigration Policy.”

Dr. Albert Bartlett, professor emeritus of physics at University of  Colorado, Boulder, correctly states that reductions in population locally, nationally and globally would solve more problems long-term than any other approach.

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