OCALA, Fla., October 24, 2013 — Every year, America grows bigger and bigger.
This has nothing to do with land size, and everything to do with population. While our country’s days of acquiring new territories have long since passed — arguably for the better — it is now home to more people than at any other time since the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock.
Just what is going on here?
Quite a few things, interestingly enough. Unfortunately, very little is mentioned of it. Chalk this up to one of the few issues which rightists and leftists alike can agree on: Piping down about overpopulation.
Luckily, not everyone is willing to go with the flow. Michael E. Arth is an urban designer and public policy analyst, among many other things. In 2010, he launched a quixotic bid for Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination. While this was not a success, it set the ball rolling for discussion about the role special interests play in politics.
On a more comprehensive level, Arth’s writings about overpopulation have attracted great controversy, but successfully raised interest about the subject.
Those who believe in the existence of overpopulation claim that as populations increase, more people will compete for fewer resources. Does he believe this to be the case?
“As long as we are talking about current facts, then yes, but predicting the future is tricky and variables change—sometimes rather spectacularly,” Arth explains to The Washington Times Communities.
“Natural resources may be declining in many areas, but technological resources are being developed at an increasing rate. For example, we may develop molecular manufacturing to the point where a box on your kitchen table could make anything out of anything—food out of excrement, a supercomputer out of dirt…. Such an invention would solve a lot of problems, but it might also turn out to be a Pandora’s Box.
“The human brain is now being reverse-engineered at the same time strong AI is being developed. Almost all the jobs we do today will be gone tomorrow, thanks to developments in genetics, robotics, nanotechnology and information technology. Driverless vehicles will eliminate the need to own an automobile, and will also eliminate millions of truck drivers and taxi drivers, for example.
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“As we approach the Technological Singularity, enhanced humans, intelligent machines and their merged forms are probably not going to want to take up space with delicate, temperamental, resource-hogging humans like us. Radical life extension could compound the problem of overpopulation if people start to live indefinitely long.
“In the meantime, overpopulation has contributed to a wide range of problems including deforestation, political instability, ocean acidification, global warming, increase in greenhouse gases, overfishing, depreciation, water scarcity, pollution, sprawl, etc. Many of the conditions related to overpopulation causing these problems will continue in some form for an indeterminate period of time.”
Jo Wideman is the executive director of Californians for Population Stabilization, a group which has taken a lead role in addressing population growth’s impact on American life. Despite CAPS’s conservative reputation, her views are none too different.
“In today’s overpopulated world more people are already competing for fewer resources,” Wideman tells TWTC. “This is evident with international and intra-national competition and conflict over oil, a variety of minerals, fresh water, arable land, forests, and marine fisheries. More people create a greater demand for resources, assuming per capita consumption of those resources is maintained and even greater demand if per capita consumption is increased, which people of virtually all nations and economies are striving to achieve.
“A large but stable population can deplete renewable and non-renewable resources if the overall rate of consumption is too high – an increasing population with an accompanying increase in resource consumption will deplete resources that much faster.
“While technological innovation can help this situation to some extent by 1) increasing rates of efficiency, 2) increasing available stocks of resources, and 3) finding and developing entirely new types of resources it cannot do so indefinitely or infinitely. Such innovation is not capable of magic.
“Additionally, technological advances may produce other problems. As just one example, we have vastly improved the yield of croplands over the past century, primarily through the application of fertilizer, but this has caused catastrophic water pollution. Nitrogen-based fertilizer runoff flows down the Mississippi, creating a seasonal Gulf of Mexico dead zone, an oxygen-starved aquatic desert.
“This year’s dead zone is about 6,000 square miles – larger than Connecticut.”
Unpopular as it might be, one can hardly discuss overpopulation without giving serious consideration to immigration. After all, this is a leading cause of rising population levels in America.
“The root of the immigration problem is overpopulation,” Arth says. “If we had global zero or negative population growth, immigration and migration would slow to a trickle. In the meantime, the U.S. should encourage immigration of high-tech talent and discourage unskilled immigration since those jobs are being replaced by mechanization and robots. Perhaps temporary guest workers could be allowed for jobs that are being phased out.”
Wideman relates her views in detail: “Immigration is a contentious, complicated issue. Unfortunately, its demographic impact, the role it plays in our continuing population growth and the resultant strain on resources, is seldom part of the debate. Our organization’s primary concern with immigration is the total numbers.
“Directly and indirectly, immigration is now responsible for three-quarters (75%) or more of the population growth in the United States. At current levels of between 1 and 2 million immigrants annually (legal and illegal combined), immigration will result in rapid U.S. population growth with no end in sight.
“With a population of 317 million at present, the U.S. will be driven to over 400 million by 2050 and somewhere between 500 and 700 million by 2100. Virtually all of this increase will be attributable to immigration and births to immigrants.
“As a result of this interminable deluge – if Americans acquiesce to it – our environment and quality of life will suffer enormously in this century.
“Our greenhouse gas emissions will continue growing indefinitely, more valuable farmland and natural habitat will be paved over, ever more species of wildlife will become endangered or driven extinct, traffic congestion and overcrowding in parks will worsen, air quality and water resources will be impaired and overstressed, and our desultory pursuit of environmental sustainability sabotaged altogether.”