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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Our world is rapidly growing, changing

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It happened sometime last week in some unknown corner of the nation. The population of the United States topped the 300 million mark. By any definition it was a milestone. But it is by no means necessarily a cause for celebration.

If you simply take statistical odds, the chances are the 300 millionth American was an undocumented migrant, born to undocumented parents somewhere in the South or the West. That's where the population is booming. It was 1915 when the population of this country topped the 100 million mark. It hit 200 million in 1967. You do the math.

There are few people who would argue that this new population mark will bring much good news our way. And for the remainder of the world outside of this country, we are far short of being the role model for the world.

Sure, our life expectancy is among the longest in the world. And our standard of living is second to none. But....

America, with just 5 percent of the world's population, uses 23 percent of its energy, eats 15 percent of its meat and consumes 28 percent of its paper. But experts on the subject of population growth are somewhat divided over the real impact of this population milestone. Some experts feel our nation can easily handle the growth while others see only doom and gloom on the horizon.

The real problem down the road is China and India. Both of those countries have more than three times our population with vastly limited resources to serve their booming population.

Take China for example. If their economic growth continues at its current pace, their income levels will match ours in just 20 years and their population will stand at 1.5 billion. They would consume more paper products than are currently being produced and would have more vehicles than are currently in the world.

So what does all of this mean? Your guess is as good as anyone's. The truth is there is but one guarantee. Future generations in this country - our grandchildren and their children - will live in a much different world. And it's almost certain that their world will not offer what is even available today in many areas. We will rely on technology to change our lives but the question is - will our growth out pace the advances of technology?

If we knew the answer to that question we could plan for the future. Unfortunately, that crystal ball does not exist.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen