This essay is in response to Jeff Wise and his Intelligencer article so frustratingly entitled, “America Could Use Another Boom.”
His subtitle warns us that, “Failing to address population decline may exact a heavy toll.” Number one, we are not in decline. Number two, the US is overpopulated and deep into overshoot, a concept I don’t think Mr. Wise is familiar with at all. Overshoot means that we are demanding more than our resources can give. Simply consulting the website of the Ecological Footprint Network would have been a way for him to bone up on the science of overshoot. A simple glance at the US Census Bureau’s population clock would counter his claim of population decline.
There is no other way of stating my dismay at the strung-together narrative of lies and half-truths in this article other than attempting to ask Mr. Wise directly, “What are you thinking and from where are you getting your statistics?” This article is so chock full of misinformation and lack of understanding of where we are ecologically as we start 2023, that I don’t even know where to begin.
Yes, I will give you that there are some small towns sadly losing population, but that can be resolved in many other more sustainable ways from within our country and is no excuse for thinking that at 332 million we need more people.
What statistics would impress you that we need to avoid a population boom? Perhaps the fact that since the first Earth Day we have added approximately 131 million Americans to our land – creating a demand for fresh water that is already compromised in a world of varying climate and increasing droughts?
And may I further ask, what color is the sky in your world when you say that immigration is decreasing when it is instead the way we are growing? The New York Times ran a story in February of 2022 with the headline, “Amid Slowdown, Immigration is Driving U.S. Population Growth.” Even NBC News reported last October that “The number of undocumented immigrant crossings at the Southwest border for fiscal year 2022 topped 2.76 million, breaking the previous annual record by more than 1 million according to customs and border protection data.” Please note that these are major news sources. Is there any evidence that could get through to you and your pro-growth stance? For your eyes must be opened to the reality that mass immigration continues in an upward trend. When the resources of everything from housing to our water supplies are already in critically short supply, my claim that we cannot accommodate a boom in population is just the reality of life in the US today; it is simply and morally about keeping the United States of America afloat. Recommending a boom in a country experiencing overshoot is like saying cigarette smokers could use another pack and diabetics could use a trip to the dessert bar.
It frightens me that most people don’t have the time I am taking today to think about what you and others have written, often with slick words and important sounding statistics about the false threat of depopulation. Not only are we continuing to grow by millions per year, depopulation is exactly what we need. It is the antidote to our stressed-out education systems, housing shortages, pollution, increasing traffic and deteriorating freeways to mention just a few problems. The US desperately needs to stop growing. Why? Because wildlife matters, because biocapacity matters, because infrastructure is limited, because on average every American uses between 82 and 100 gallons of water a day and water sources are already stretched beyond capacity. Because according to the US treasury, as of November of last year, it cost $103 billion dollars just to maintain our national debt, and there is currently a proposal on the table to spend upwards of $785 million to feed, house and transport even more migrants. This is happening in a country of over 500 thousand homeless Americans, that is wrong on so many levels.
To be encouraging a boom in a country that has tripled in numbers in about 100 years is beyond foolish, it is dangerous. It is dangerous not only to the salmon which no longer run in our streams but to the people already here trying to make their lives work. Only those with dollar signs for eyes are blind to the often-irreversible damage caused by unfettered appetites for growth in our overpopulated country.