Monday, August 15, 2005

Ideal U.S. Population?

Should we wait until all the US is this crowded?
The United States Census Bureau estimates the current population of the United Status to be about 290 million. While the number of people in the US may stabilize at some point in the future, there are economic pressures to have an ever growing population. Depending on the assumptions made, the US Census Bureau estimates that the US population in 2100 will range from 571 million with a moderate growth rate to 1.1 billion with a high growth rate.

Imagine this country with four times the number of people it has now. As you drive to work or walk through the mall, imagine three other people standing or sitting next to each person you see. Image cross country interstate highways with eight lanes in each direction. Imagine having to make reservations at national tourist attractions years in advance.

Would the United States with a population of somewhere between 571 million and 1.1 billion be the same country we love today? How would the quality of life be affected by such a large number of people? What would be the impact on the environment with so many people needing food, water and other resources?

Most of us consider an expanding population to be part of the natural order, but common sense tells us that at some point the population of the US will stabilize. Whether that will happen before or after we’ve done irreparable damage to the environment is up to us.

What is the ideal population for the United States? 1 Billion? 500 million? 300 million? 200 million? We can just wait and see what happens, but wouldn't it make sense to start a national discussion and build a consensus on an ideal population for the US? We could then talk about how we reach and stabilize at that level.

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