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It's the population, stupid

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"California, here we come," is replete with contradictions (HCN, 5/1/06: California, here we come). It praises California for "showing the rest of the West how to use water more efficiently through conservation" by "pioneering the transfer of water rights from rural areas to rapidly growing urban centers." But rural areas, with their ability to grow food, are more sustainable than the "growing urban centers." By driving agriculture farther away from the people in the cities, we are increasing our dependence on the petroleum needed to move the food to consumers.

The suggestion that the West "simply must innovate if it is going to accommodate a growing population without destroying its natural wealth" is a triumph of contradiction. There is no way "to accommodate a growing population" without destroying the natural wealth of the West.

In the long run, we can’t win unless we all recognize that the rapidly growing population is the source of essentially all of our resource and environmental problems. It is a disappointment that this absolute fact of life was not recognized in your editor’s note, which should have been subtitled: "California is coming rapidly to all of us."

Albert A. Bartlett
Boulder, Colorado

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