U.S. finds safe paths to plenty

first_imgThat hasn’t prevented generations of American schoolchildren from being taught that Earth is overpopulated and that human beings, particularly American human beings, are going to use up all the natural resources – soon! In California, recycling is a prominent feature of the elementary-school social-studies curriculum, right up there with the stock paragraph about Europeans bringing fatal diseases to the Native Americans. We’ve been taught that Americans use more land than other people throughout the world, we use more water, we use more energy and we produce more trash. We Americans are just walking environmental disasters. Such doom and gloom is accepted modern dogma. But the apocalyptic number crunchers overlook the fact that America is very different from the rest of the world in ways other than just our resource use. We use more land because we have the right to own property and the freedom to travel. We use more water because we have developed our waterworks to a level that allows for things like lawns, backyard pools and water parks. We use more energy than people in other countries because we produce a lot more, and what we produce supports other countries’ economies. We produce more trash because we have a strong economy and healthy paper, cardboard and plastic industries. In other words, we are the Land of More because we’ve used our brains and elbow grease to create a nation where we can drive our SUVs from our homes to Raging Waters or conveniently throw away the debris from our individually wrapped hamburgers. But dogma dies hard. We’ve had the idea of overpopulation so hammered into our heads that it’s difficult to let go. There are 6.6 billion people on the planet, according to current estimates. If you could put everybody in one region of the world and give every man, woman and child his very own 10,000-square-foot plot of land, the world’s population would take up about 4.1 percent of Earth’s land surface, or about two-thirds of the United States. If you figure in the oceans, the world’s population could cover 1.2 percent of Earth’s total surface with everybody owning 10,000 square feet of land. That would leave more than 98 percent of the surface of the planet available for resources. Overpopulation fears notwithstanding, the truth is it’s a big world. And there’s more than enough to share for us and future generations. Tad Cronn is a writer and speaker from West Hills. His Web site is local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! IT’S official again: America is too big for its britches and getting bigger. Many people might think that’s old news. After all, we’ve been accused of being “too” a lot of things: Too arrogant, too affluent, too wasteful, too conservative. We like big money, big names and big cars. Living large – that’s us. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the country that likes “big” so much it had to invent Double Double burgers and Super Big Gulps is about to pass a milestone. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Sometime this month, most likely today, the 300 millionth American resident will arrive – either by birth or by border – 39 years after we hit 200 million. Not surprisingly, the greatest growth has come in the South and West. While our “natural increase” – births minus deaths – was 1.7 million from 2004 to 2005, migration added 1 million to our population. What’s so amazing about these numbers isn’t the mere fact that they make us the third-most-populous nation in the world, behind India and China. What’s startling is that we’re still alive. Back in the late 1960s, around the time we hit that 200 million mark, there was a book called “The Population Bomb” written by Paul Erlich. According to that best-seller, world population would continue to grow exponentially, resulting in inevitable mass starvation. It was the global-warming theory of its day. Since then, not only has population growth slowed, but new technologies, changes in distribution and more open markets have staved off mass starvation. While there are, and almost certainly always will be, pockets of famine, they’re the results of local situations, not global phenomena. last_img

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