Population - always a touchy subject

posted Aug 15, 2012, 11:53 AM by Nathan Moore

Population growth is a conversation topic that can get people very heated. It is often touted as the cause of all our problems, and yet the attempts that have been made to reduce population growth (China's one-child policy, for example) are decried as draconian and inhumane. What seems particularly hard for us freedom-loving American's to wrap our heads around is that with increased population density comes a need for increased regulation.

When the US had The Wild West, each ranch had 10,000 acres and there was no one around to enforce laws. Now that the City of Denver is roughly 100,000 acres, and the metro region is 5 million, the freewheeling spirit is not an effective governing ethos any longer. With population density, efficiency becomes possible, and shortly thereafter, necessary. Despite the recently released report describing how inefficient some NYC buildings are (pdf: NYC benchmarking report) the city as a whole is vastly more efficient per person than any other place in the country, because of its density. The desire for each family to have an expansive, dark-green lawn, while real, is no longer acceptable when there are thousands of those desires concentrated in a small area in a semi-arid climate.

We must all be aware of our impacts. Our children may not have a better life than us, if we do not take responsibility for our actions.

Thoughts from Moore Better Building Consulting

posted Sep 16, 2010, 9:12 PM by Nathan Moore

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday, to the effect of: "Wilderness: Land of no uses." It was by an off-highway vehicle organization, and it's a play on the motto of the US National Forests, which is "Land of Many Uses." The owner of the vehicle was clearly upset that they couldn't drive their jeep/dirt bike/snowmobile/4-wheeler anywhere they wanted. It struck me how narrow and short-sighted that world-view is, and how important education is for us all.

Wild areas have significant economic value to humans, most directly and obviously for tourism. Hiking, biking, hunting, etc. are all enhanced by limiting vehicles in their environs.

Unaltered nature is also an excellent source of potential medicines. It is also an excellent source of natural diseases/bacteria. This is a good thing, one that Americans should be exposed to more often. Modern western medicine is working wonders on the diseases of our time. The problem is that the bacteria and viruses are learning how to adapt to our medicines. We need ever larger doses of successful medicines, and/or new versions to combat the updated diseases. These miracle drugs we have created (and I'm sure we can improve them with time) should be reserved for the direst of circumstances, and let our own disease fighters, our immune systems, respond to their fullest extent. What if we already have a cure for cancer/common cold, but the disease has mutated so strongly it is no longer effective? What if there is a cure for cancer in our forests, or an estuary, or a distant jungle?

Wilderness for the sake of wilderness is valuable. Personally, I like knowing there are places where nature continues unchanged by my (collective) actions. I might never go, or even see, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but I like it.

I am not advocating for total cessation of motorized access to nature, or human use of its bounty, just for concerned, thoughtful examination of the methods and quantities of that use. This begins with consumers, in the old refrain of "voting with our wallets." We need to at least reduce the amount of resources we consume that are irrevocably changed.

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