Sep 27, 2006

The environmental load of 300 million: How heavy?

Read the full story in the Christian Science Monitor.

In many ways, Americans have mitigated the impact of their increasing presence on the land. Since reaching the 200 million mark back in 1967, they have cut emissions of major air pollutants, banned certain harmful pesticides, and overseen the rebound of several endangered species. Despite using more resources and creating more waste, they’ve become more energy efficient.

The danger, experts say, is that the US may simply have postponed the day of reckoning. Major environmental problems remain, and some are getting worse - all of them in one way or another connected to US population growth, which is expected to hit 400 million around midcentury. Some experts put the average American’s “ecological footprint” - the amount of land and water needed to support an individual and absorb his or her waste - at 24 acres. By that calculation, the long-term “carrying capacity” of the US would sustain less than half of the nation’s current population.

 Thanks Laura L. Barnes, SuperLibrarian