Population conversation


Paul Larmer states that solutions to the West's tough problems won't be easy (HCN, 6/9/08). True, but we'd do well to focus on one problem whose solution would do so much to alleviate all the others: population growth, mentioned so often in passing, but concentrated on and acted on so rarely. We remain bemused and passive observers even as the Census Bureau adds a California-sized bump-up to its future U.S. population estimate. Now we can expect to grow by almost half in just 50 years. Shocking? Impossible? Hardly. That's just what's in the works, and what our children will have to accept and adjust to.

The operating assumption, of course, is that public ignorance and passivity will continue. What to do?

Short-term, there's no alternative to keep pressing hard on immigration enforcement and reducing legal immigration.  But more importantly, pressure Congress to again (as in 1970) set up a commission on population and the American future that brings together articulate spokesmen from all sides, including the-more-the-better ain't-no-limits cornucopians. A heated national-level discussion that can't be ignored should be all that is needed to make us frogs in the comfy American cookpot a bit jumpy.

Phil Leatherman
Bainbridge Island, Washington