Northwest NEWS

March 26, 2001

Editorial

More is not always good

I read every day about our worsening power situation. We won't have enough
   water/oil/natural gas/carrying capacity to get us through - you pick the
   season. I keep waiting to hear lots of people chime in that if we could
   only reign in our population growth rate, we'd be in much better shape - but
   noone has. Then today I read it again: "slow-growth as a way to curb
   suburban sprawl". How about "no growth"? How about "negative-growth"?
   It seems pretty simple to me: more high-consumption US people = higher
   energy needs. More teenage pregnancy = higher energy needs. Higher
   immigration numbers = higher energy needs.
   So, if we want to get a handle on our energy needs and the costs of energy
   it behooves us as a society to look at the core issue: population. Then, we
   need to make changes in our behavior in this area, just like we make efforts
   in conservation. Making difficult choices for the good of the society and
   the world may feel overly altruistic and go against your religious beliefs
   such as be fruitful and multiply, but with a world that the UN predicts will
   grow from 6.2 billion currently, to 9.x billion in 50 years, it's time to
   reign ourselves in.
   There are many simple things our society can do to get a handle on the
   population explosion and the sooner we make these choices ourselves, the
   sooner our leaders in Olympia and DC will gather that they need to act as
   well. No-brainers like having health insurers cover all forms of
   prescription contraception in their plans; selling emergency contraception
   over the counter as is being done in France and Canada; make vasectomies
   available to anyone that wants one; improving our sex education classes and
   generally getting real about teens and sex - these are all issues we can
   move on today. But for the future, we are going to need a national policy
   on population growth and we as a nation are going to have the hard
   discussions about what it will take to slow our growth rate.
   There has been an on-going assumption in Washington state that growth is
   good. That more highways, more businesses, more home-starts - that more
   more more is good good good. That assumption needs to be challenged every
   time you here it. We all need to have a discussion about this and then take
   whatever action we can to stem the tide. This is a case where "we" means
   "you".
   I am traveling to Washington, DC to learn more about these issues
   and to talk to my representatives. What are you doing to slow human
   population growth?
   Albert Kaufman, Seattle