U.S. Population Growth is Reaching Dangerous Heights

The U.S. population growth is increasing at a substantial pace, adding extra strain to our already-dwindling resources. Is it time to talk about population stabilization?

| June/July 2008

The U.S. population is approximately 300 million, and if the U.S. population growth keeps increasing at the current rate, we’ll reach 400 million by 2043. As Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute points out, this is not a good trend. “U.S. population growth is the ever expanding denominator that gives each person a shrinking share of the resource pie,” Brown says. “It contributes to water shortages, cropland conversion to non-farm uses, traffic congestion, more garbage, overfishing, a growing dependence on imported oil and other conditions that diminish the quality of our daily lives.”

In other First World countries (France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Japan), populations have either slightly dropped or stayed constant. “It may be time for the United States to establish a national population policy, one that would lead toward population stabilization sooner rather than later,” Brown says. With so much talk about conservation of declining resources, it may be important to switch the focus toward population stabilization and then decide how to stretch the resources among society.

frank kling
8/18/2009 4:14:25 AM

The population explosion denialists like "Dean" remind me of the climate change denialists. For example, "Dean" believes population is a non-issue due to the countries non-developed areas? If Dean thought about this statement, than he would come to understand that more than 100 productive acres of land and natural resources are required to support each American. Every 24 hours, mankind is responsible for driving 100 animal and plant species extinct, according to the US National Academies of Science, yet during this same time period the world expereinces a net gain of 220,000 more human beings. And the denialists believe over-population is a non-issue, yeah right.

7/23/2009 9:12:06 AM

Lester Brown is correct, the U.S. does need a sustainable population policy. There are multiple reasons: 1)Overpopulation is not about space or density. It's about the resources needed to support that population. There is no question the U.S. at current population and consumption levels is using more than its share of the Earth's resources. We need to do better both on consumption and on population. 2)If nations won't take some responsibility for moving toward population stabilization and eventual decline, then who will? 3)Yes, the lion's share of U.S. population growth is due to immigration, but that immigration converts people into American-style superconsumers. So if U.S. consumption is a problem (and it is), anything above zero net immigration is irresponsible. 4)We can't import the billion starving people on the planet, so our efforts to help the impoverished are better invested in the nations where they live. It is more compassionate and humanitarian in the long run not to separate families, not to drain other nations of their most ambitious citizens, and not to exploit them so we can have cheap labor and an ever-growing GDP. 5)And we need to make sure every couple in every conceivable situation can make well-informed, responsible decisions about family size. Any questions? Dave Gardner Producing the GrowthBusters documentary Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity

6/23/2008 10:54:04 PM

Shame on you Mother Earth news for printing such one-sided propaganda. This overpopulation myth has been exploded so many times in multiple good articles available on the web, yet the New World order folks just keep pushing it. Has the common sense of anyone who believes this every been activated when driving across the wide, empty, but inhabitable expanses of our country? We are far from overpopulated. China, Russia, Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, here we come as well.

6/23/2008 12:54:13 PM

"USA is risking being overrun by the uninvited." The country was founded by the uninvited, illegal aliens stealing land. It seems piggish to stop the influx now, when world population seems about to stabilize at 9 billion. What's more, per capita US carbon pollution is about triple Europe's, which in turn is greater than China's, and the (il)legals didn't do that, nor was it less before they arrived. Look in the mirror for the wasters, and learn from Europe.

6/23/2008 12:24:01 PM

Is 400 million really anything close to over population? Or are we as Americans being selfish gluttons. Consider that we are the 180th most densely populated country of the 240 countries listed on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density. If the population of the United States tripled to over 1 billion, there would still be 100 countries that are more densely populated than ours. We are noticing things tightening up a bit in this country, but population density is not the cause.

6/23/2008 11:32:17 AM

I firmly believe that world over-population will be our downfall. Eventually, there will be more people on this planet than it can sustain, and I believe we are getting close. While education and other programs to limit population growth in other countries are great ideas, realistically, they are not working. Unfortunately, I do not think anything substantial will happen until it has to, and that will probably only come as a response to massive deaths due to starvation and communicable disease (far beyond what we are seeing). Until that problem is solved, I believe we may have to restrict our own population growth to maintain/sustain our own dwindling resources. Bottom line, what's wrong with 300+ million in this country and around 7 billion world wide? Isn't that enough? More is not necessarliy better.

6/23/2008 9:39:11 AM

My understanding that the USA has reached Zero Population growth. Does this just apply to actual Americans? Are the people sneaking in adding to the population and the stressing our resources? I see many [probable] illegal aliens pushing baby carriages with toddlers clinging to their legs. One of two things must happen to stop the exploding US population -- either keep the borders better defended from illegals and ship them home when they are caught (something that may become common as the economy sinks further and further) or change the Constitution so children born to illegal aliens are no longer automatically citizens. It seems like the USA is risking being overrun by the uninvited.

6/20/2008 8:39:33 PM

I agree that population control is an ever increasing concern for our society but believe this article is misleading. I read just this morning that the census states that on average, American women have just two children, which merely sustains the population. The vast majority of population growth in the country is from immigration. Nothing wrong with that though as I believe humans should have the personal freedom to live wherever they want to regardless of borders. What this means though is that the population is merely being shifted from other areas to here, not actually growing the way the author implies. Our local concern needs to be on the fact that we consume far more than our fair share of resources as a country. Changing this issue will do far more good for the country than imposing population control laws on a citizenry that is not actually contributing to increased population. Our global concern for overpopulation needs to be focused on third world countries where many women average 7-8 children as the norm. Given better opportunities for education, self sustaining agricultural practices and science based sex education (and birth control options where possible), these women and these countries will inevitably fall into line with industrialized countries birth rates.

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