California is the Dim Picture of America’s Future

Published on December 28th, 2007

The Golden State Today Bodes Ill for the U.S. of Tomorrow

SANTA BARBARA—October 5, 2006—As America prepares to surge past a population of 300 million people sometime around October 15, one need only to look at what has happened to California over the past two decades to see what is in store for the rest of the nation.

“Three hundred million people is neither an achievement nor an endpoint, but just a landmark on the way to a billion people,” said Diana Hull, President of Californians for Population Stabilization. “It is time to remind everyone again, that perpetual growth is the philosophy of a cancer cell.”

Hull delivered her comments at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, where some of the nation’s top population and immigration experts warned that 300 million people is nothing to celebrate.

The grim foretelling in California of the impacts that massive population growth will have on the nation’s environment and quality-of-life demonstrate how fast the ‘tipping-point’ can be reached. “The California Experiment is an example of how far and how fast a magnificent natural inheritance can be squandered and plundered,” Hull said. “How fast the skid and how far the fall.”

Hull, a behavioral scientist trained in demography who served on the Sierra Club’s Population Committee and the Southern California Demographic Forum, said California’s cultural penchant for fast-if-easy living was quickly outstripped by its unchecked appetite for simply ‘more.’

“In our state, the race to gargantuan-size has progressed so far and so fast that we can barely move,” Hull said. “Freeways have become like doors that the morbidly obese can no longer fit through, thus the size of everything has to expand.”

It’s unlikely that Governor Pat Brown, who invested heavily in California’s infrastructure, could have envisioned in 1965 the human tidal wave that would eventually swamp his fabled public works.

But it was in 1965 that real sustained population growth began in California that would take on what Hull described as “astonishing momentum” over the next four decades. In 1965, California’s population was just over 18 million people. Today, California has more than 37 million people, and sustains a net-gain of about 500,000 more people annually.

The vast majority of people flowing into the state, Hull said, are legal and illegal immigrants; the vast majority of them are poor and uneducated and require social assistance. The resulting cultural arguments over immigration have obscured the most basic question the state government and the media should be openly discussing: how many more people can the state take?

The answer may be found in the devolution of California over the past four decades, from a sun-dappled state that could provide its people an enviable quality of life to a gritty jumble of jammed public schools, failing emergency rooms, overwhelmed social services, vanishing green space and suburban sprawl so vast that three hour commutes to and from work are now a reality.

As Hull noted on Tuesday, the overpopulating of California occurred not with popular support, but rather amid a collective slumber.

“The state became a pilot project in a failed social experiment that no one had agreed to beforehand,” she said. “All around us there were more people, more traffic, more crowds, more long waits, more houses and more shopping centers…but never enough.”

The resulting dislocations caused by a deteriorating quality of life, which has seen large numbers of Californian’s fleeing the state, has been more than made up for by surging net gains in the population fueled by immigration.

Yet amazingly, the nation’s bi-partisan leadership at virtually every level of the federal government seems unwilling to learn from what has happened to California, but to the contrary seem more than prepared to let California’s fate become America’s future.

Despite four decades of hard evidence of the potentially catastrophic impacts—particularly for the environment—of unmanaged population growth, Hull said the nation’s leaders have been shamefully silent.

“As demographic momentum accelerated, the pace of this growth and the changes it wrought were never systematically observed and monitored, nor even officially acknowledged,” she said. “And little interest was shown in evaluating outcomes.”

Those outcomes are evident everyday now in California, from the implosion of trauma centers across Los Angeles County to the bulldozing of some of the most fertile farmland in the Central Valley to make way for more homes.

“The two very worst outcomes are that infrastructure over-use wears everything out faster than we can replace it,” Hull said. “And there is an insatiable demand on natural resources that are now unable to replenish themselves.”


Californians for Population Stabilization is a non-profit organization dedicated to formulating and advancing policies and programs designed to stabilize the population of California at a level which will preserve a good quality of life for all Californians; www.capsweb.org.


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