Deputy Director’s Corner
Last week, a short piece on Northeast Public Radio caught my attention. Author and Albany Law School professor Stephen Gottlieb notes: “one of the ways in which we are making our earth unsustainable for human life is the population explosion. …That makes population policy a tremendously important issue worldwide.” Gottlieb goes on to explain what NPG has stated for decades: “We have a choice, we can curb the growth of population voluntarily, or an angry earth will do it to us…
“The earth will have its revenge.”
A gloomy prospect, perhaps. But Gottlieb highlights something I’ve been seeing reflected in other recent headlines around the country: “…the evidence that Malthus’ prediction is coming true is all around us.”
Also last week, an angry Congressional Oversight Committee grilled Susan Hedman – a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who resigned early this year from her post as Director of the EPA regional office in charge of Michigan. Members of the Congressional Oversight Committee cast Hedman as “one of the primary villains” in the Flint, Michigan water crisis. If there is any positive outcome to the tragic, immoral, and baffling inaction of government in this situation – it is that the Flint crisis has brought much-needed attention to drinking water contamination all across the U.S.
Along with the media frenzy surrounding the lead contamination in Flint, CNN recently ran a story on the filthy-looking tap water in St. Joseph, Louisiana. Residents of that town are told that iron is leaving the brown residue in their water – which, while entirely unappealing, isn’t considered dangerous by government officials. It’s yet another case of America’s failing infrastructure:
Aging, corroded water pipes
+ Increased demand due to population growth
Deteriorating quality of life for citizens
The situation is so widespread, in 2013 the American Society of Civil Engineers issued our nation’s infrastructure a grade of D, stating: “much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life.” In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated “a 20-year capital investment need of almost $334.8 billion” – but that was just to maintain our existing system. EPA estimates “are more conservative as they do not factor in population growth.” As our nation’s population continues to climb by an average of one person every 15 seconds, the cos will ultimately be even higher. In 2012, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) “concluded that the aggregate replacement value for more than 1 million miles of pipes was approximately $2.1 trillion.”
“Ultimately we will have to face the need to ‘catch up’ with past deferred investments, and the more we delay the harder the job will be when the day of reckoning comes.”
Again, it seems “the earth will have its revenge” for our refusal to voluntarily reduce our population size – and thus reduce our demands on nature’s limited resources. Another article, this one in Newsweek, only confirmed the trend I was noticing: “Seas Rose Faster in 20th Century Than in Previous 27 Centuries.” According to a new Rutgers University study, “Had it not been for climate change, global sea levels would have risen by less than half the amount they did in the 20th century – and may have even fallen… And as oceans continue to rise, we can expect more flooding on the U.S. East Coast, researchers warned.”
NPG has long drawn the link between population growth and climate change – and catastrophic flooding is likely to impact some of the most populated states in America. The Miami Herald recently published an article titled “Sea rise could force millions in Florida to adapt or flee, study finds” – which highlights: “Authors find three times more people at risk from flooding in the U.S. than earlier projected; Floridians alone make up nearly half that number if seas rise six feet; Residents in Miami-Dade and Broward counties make up a quarter of U.S. citizens at risk.”
The article notes: “For the first time, a team of researchers looked at ongoing population growth… What they found was startling: projections that failed to factor in population growth in dense states like Florida hugely underestimated the number of people at risk and the cost of protecting them.” An EcoWatch article highlighted that “More than 13 million Americans could be at risk….” Most importantly, the new study explains what NPG has warned for decades: “current projections don’t take into account rapid population growth in coastal areas.” (For more information on population growth in Florida, see NPG’s webpage Overpopulation in Your State: Florida.)
Over and over, the message is clear: the earth is already starting to take its revenge.
With so much in the headlines directly related to the dangerous consequences of U.S. population growth, we cannot stop in our critical battle. We must DEMAND that our elected officials take immediate action to enact responsible, comprehensive population policies. We must ACT NOW to slow, halt, and eventually reverse population growth. With YOUR help, we can continue to wage – and win – the war for our grandchildren’s future!
World population, now over 7.3 billion, is predicted to rise to 9 billion by 2050, an increase of almost two billion, or 23%, in the short space of only 34 years from now.In the highly unlikely event that per capita greenhouse gas emissions could possibly be decreased by an equal percentage in such a short space of time (a blink of an eye) the total amount of worldwide emission would remain the same!
From this simple illustration it would appear that without drastically reducing the size of world population, there is no solution to the problem.None at all.So then why do our world leaders pretend that there is one?What is to be gained by pretending rather than by proposing a solution that would solve the problem – a reduction in the size of world population to not more than 1- 2 billion?
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