At www.ThinkPopulation.org we keep track of those population issues which concern the greatest number of our website visitors. Since our visitors are typically American parents and grandparents and since our website is designed for people concerned about their children's--and grandchildren's--quality of life, we are always intrigued to see what most concerns them. Beginning with Number 6 and working forward:
Concern Number 6-Urban Sprawl: As America's population grows, cities spread their businesses and residences further from their cores. Employees--our children--often move farther from their jobs in order to find homes they can afford. Sometimes they find that while they have homes they can afford, they also have commutes they cannot afford--either financially or psychologically. As perpetual population growth perpetuates the growth of urban sprawl, quality of life for our children and grandchildren suffers.
Concern Number 5-Education: Many education researchers believe ideal enrollments for elementary schools are no more than 300 students, for middle schools no more than 500 students, and for high schools 600 to 900 students. Yet high schools with enrollments of more than 1,000 account for 71% of American high school students. Perpetual population growth in America has forced school districts either (a) to try to build more schools than taxpayers are willing to pay for or (b) to cram more students into existing schools. The result, as expected: Diminution of the education process.
Concern Number 4-Environment: Most populationists, people with views and concerns about population growth, arrive at their views and concerns through their concern for the environment. For example, someone working to protect habitat for animals, birds, or fish quickly discovers habitat is hard to protect while bulldozers are leveling it to build more houses or more shopping centers or more parking lots for an increasing population. Thus, it is not surprising that so many parents concerned about protecting America's environment for their descendants have made the connection between perpetual population growth and perpetual environmental degradation.
Concern Number 3-Crime: We want our children and grandchildren to live in safe communities. "Smart growth," which involves consolidating more people into less urban space, is a device designed to mitigate one of the negative effects of population growth, urban sprawl. But would criminals prefer to practice their trade walking down streets of family residences with windows on all sides--some with "Neighborhood Watch" stickers--available to observe strangers on those streets? Or would they prefer to walk down dimly lit halls of multistory residence buildings where they pass only faceless walls? As population growth causes small towns to become cities, criminals become anonymous, crimes become more difficult to solve, and crime rates increase.
Concern Number 2-Culture: America's culture is fortunate to be an amalgam of assimilated behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought from every part of the world. The key to that good fortune is assimilation. Apparently, many American parents are concerned that assimilation may not be occurring today as effectively as it had in the past. Also, there may be concern that population density is contributing to greater incidence of "road rage" and general lack of courtesy and thoughtfulness among America's residents. A Chinese-American tourist visiting China stopped a native from crowding into the front of a queue with, "That's not polite." The native replied, "We have too many people to be polite." That is not the culture American parents want to leave for their children.
Concern Number 1-Food and Farmland: Food? How can that possibly be a concern? Walk into any large grocery store in America and you will see more quantities and varieties of food than most people in the world can even imagine. Yes, but...For the first time in its history, America is importing more food than it is exporting. From the East Coast to the West Coast, people--parents--are seeing farmland taken out of food production to provide land for housing, factories, office buildings, schools, hospitals, and all the other infrastructure required to support a perpetually growing population. Consider the dichotomy: More people to feed...with less land on which to produce food. Food and farmland--logical concerns for today's parents.
As you think about the kind of America you want to leave for your descendants, ask yourself, "How many of my concerns match those of these other parents?" and "How many of my concerns will be lessened if America continues its mindless march to match China and India with a population of one billion?"