Little Known Presidential Population Leadership

Presidents Bush II and Obama have steered Sustainability at the Federal level into eight years of inactivity followed by a CEQ-coordinated reporting process requiring federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainability outside Washington has become a Big Tent containing many good or good-sounding things, but now has (in the U.S.) nothing to do with capping or reducing population numbers. So Bush II and Obama seem to have ended a long-running presidential book-writing policy-revising project, in Obama’s case possibly without fully understanding the policy potential of this new Sustainability framework.

It is a large puzzle why Population Stabilization Policy slipped off the national agenda, not in response to a reversal or ebbing of the demographic trends that activated it, but as the 2 billion humans of 1930 became 4 billion by 1975 then 5.2 billion by 1990 projected to rise to between 7.8 to 12.5 billion by 2030 – a human crowd trying to cope with the multiple-stresses of global warming.

I expect Population Stabilization Policy to come back into the agenda of the White House and Congress with the global turmoil ahead of us all. Bet me on it, Julian Simon.

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Otis L. Graham, Jr

Professor Emeritus of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author or editor of more than fifteen books, including “Debating American Immigration, 1882-Present” (with Roger Daniels) and “Environment Politics and Policy, 1960s to 1990s”. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA.

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