Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Population growth and climate change

The United Sates Census Bureau predicts that the population of the United States will grow by another 100 million in the next forty years. In his book The Next 100 Million: America in 2050 Joel Kotkin sketches a mostly positive outlook on how  diverse and optimistic Americans will cope with this population increase

Mr. Kotkin’s text is a serious study and richly footnoted. His anti new-urbanist view is in apparent. He puts forth that even with this new growth the density of the United States will still be many times less than the population density in Europe. His position on the growth of new extra urban mini-metropolises throughout the heartland of America, supports my view that telecommuting and information transfer technologies will make living in major urban environment a life style not a career driven decision.

If we take as a given that Climate Change will be upon us sooner than later, where ill those people live and what will this population growth mean to the rest of us.

While no one for certain, can say what areas of the United States will be suitable for human habitation in fifty years, one thing for certain some places in America will get better for humans and others will get worse. If you read, and fully believe Dianne Dumanoski’s book The End of the Long Summer you might not be so optimistic. However, as I  believe that we are past the climate change tipping point, its a moot point. The population of the United Sates will grow significantly and climate change will shift our industrialized focus.

What does that mean to our future economy. Less consumer spending of scare resources and more group purchases or redistribution of resources through government. We will have to build new infrastructures to support our increased population and new infrastructure to support it where it lives.

Where will the new population go. No one knows for certain, except that it will go where the weather supports growth and to places (urban or otherwise) that provides for the spiritual and physical needs of Americans.

What does that mean?

More Local Everything

New villages, cities and towns that provide green economies in places that have good weather, rational water supplies and the potential for growing crops.

More small city growth where transportation and infrastructures can be funded locally without mega grants from the federal government.

More villages, cities and towns in areas with abundant green power of hydro, wind and direct solar.

More communities that provide local entertainment and opportunities to recreate in the outdo

Where will this take place?

Your guess is as good as any, my guess: the hill country of Texas, interior North and South Carolina, possibly Arkansas, Oklahoma and the Dakotas as well as the Intermountain West. It is unlikely to take place in the coastal states or anywhere with mega city growth has reached practical commuting and social management limits.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A reason for optimism for the United States

I am mostly an optimist. I worry just a little about prosperity for future generations of Americans. As a post consumerist, I might define prosperity differently than a consumerist, but prosperity is a rational desire for either.

The population of Europe is stable or declining. Russian and China’s population are also stable or declining. European Union nations face a need to create prosperity without growth. This is a daunting proposition.

The United States, on the other hand, will grow by as many as 100 Million people during the next 40 years. Much of that growth will be through immigration. Many immigrants come to the United States as an affirmation of hope in the future for themselves, and for their children.

Although the trend is slowing, Americans are much more likely to have children than people in other developed countries. It is my optimistic belief that population growth will drive our economy during the rest of my lifetime (and then some).

Americans are are among the most religious and spiritual people of the developed world. We are much more likely to attend worship than Europeans or Russians. Religions of all types offer a reason for hope in the future and encourage families to have children. Hope and faith in our ability to meet the challenges the creator tests us with are among the greatest strengths of Americans.

The United States can expect that population growth and our hopeful optimism will drive our economy for the reasonable future. Other countries will not enjoy this gift.

We will face serious challenges, but our hopeful outlook will help us to confront those challenges head-on. I believe our spirituality will quickly bring us to a place where we will value human advance over acquisition of plastic goods. Our growth will be shared resources rather than personal acquisitions.

This post consumerist is optimistic about our shared American future, even in these dark days.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blowing ourselves up with non-biodegradable plastic Chinese Fireworks is not the only way to show patriotism!

Now that the Fourth of July celebration has come and gone from our small town in the Pacific Northwest, I am certain of the following.

  • Professional grade fireworks are legally bought and fired off by individuals in the State of Washington, in very large quantities.
  • I love our old fashioned parade for kids.
  • I enjoy watching fireworks with adolescent children.
  • I am appalled that community volunteers have to clean 25 TONS of Chinese made plastic crap off the beaches after the fireworks.


I was interested in finding out how much personal fireworks were sold in our state. I did a web search; I wasn’t able to get a complete handle on that piece of information, but we are talking millions.

I discovered:

  • That thousands of citizens on this great country are injured and permanently maimed  by fireworks each year. This year a man in New York lost an arm to fireworks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that In 2009 there were over 8,800 fireworks injuries treated at emergency rooms and two deaths from fireworks in 2009. (Eight deaths in 2008). With a conservative addition for non hospital treated injuries we are talking some serious damage. 75% of injuries were to men and 39% to CHHILDREN
  • Fireworks manufacturers and wholesalers invariably advertise wit the “Show your Patriotism” motto! They fail to say “Show your patriotism by polluting the environment of America”  These armaments contain millions of pieces of plastic. This plastic is small, never breaks down, and is now in the environment and will enter the oceans, eventually and find its way to your children's plates through that can of tuna fish. I don’t think we should ban fireworks, just may be regulate them back to paper or biodegradable pieces. We are not talking lost jobs in the USA here. Fireworks sales in the U.S. is a $1 Billion dollar industry, but less than 10% of the sales are from U.S. manufacturers.
  • In our state, and judging from the fireworks manufacturers and wholesalers web pages, most fireworks are sold to consumers through non-profit fundraising. So while the church youth group gets to have a fellowship trip, the concerned citizens get to clean up the mess made by the buyers. Now I have no quarrel with the sellers, but maybe they ought to be on the forefront of the cleanup.

I am certain that fireworks will continue, but maybe we can hope they change to biodegradable, and the industry should consider this before the EPA gets into the act.

I am also certain there are many ways, other than blowing ourselves up with small armaments made in China, to show patriotism.

I suggest that patriotism is shown by ACTIVE involvement in community. That can include voting, being a church volunteer, making donations of time and money to local and national service organizations, being a scout leader, or just going out and helping clean up the mess that the self described “super-patriots” made on your beach.