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Joe Guzzardi How the exploding human population affects Lodi, too

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Joe Guzzardi

Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:00 am, Sat Nov 12, 2011.

Wrapping our minds around the concept of 7 billion people, the earth's population, is tough. Even though the sum is liberally tossed around in everyday language, a billion of anything is beyond comprehension. A billion minutes ago would put us back into the time of Christ; a billion hours was 115,000 years ago and a billion days is the equivalent of three million years.

I can understand why so many laymen ignore population issues — although I wish they wouldn't. The numbers are staggeringly high, the problem is weighty, seemingly beyond correction, and the worst of overpopulation's consequences won't occur until our generation has passed. Americans, and especially politicians, are great at looking the other way and passing the toughest problems down the line.

If, however, instead of trying to grasp 7 billion, we would concentrate on our own infinitely smaller communities, we might develop a clearer picture of what lies ahead.

Let's focus on Lodi, where I lived from 1986 to 2008, which was once a small agricultural community. The projections I'll make in my column in terms of growth percentage and the conclusions I draw from Lodi's probable decline in quality of life because of population pressures would apply anywhere in America.

Twenty-five years ago, when I first moved to Lodi, its population was 52,000; today, it's 62,000. To accommodate what may strike some as relatively modest growth, acres of vineyards were paved over to make room for more roads, schools, box stores and housing developments.

Lodi reflected California's overall population increases. In 1990, the state had nearly 30 million residents; today, 38 million. Up and down the state, the same ineffective short-term, Band-Aid solutions failed. While officials authorized more building everywhere, the quality of life became less and less enjoyable.

A year ago, the News-Sentinel provided residents a chance to peer into 2040 by analyzing what one of the town's major thoroughfares will look like three decades from today. Now a two-lane road that runs along Lodi's south side, Harney Lane will eventually expand to four lanes. In the process of building a major east-west connector to Highway 99, plans for the city to acquire 47 pieces of private property are underway. In the interim, according to the News-Sentinel's December story, adjoining roads on the east and west side of Harney Lane will be widened. Also under consideration is an overpass.

While Harney Lane is being expanded, thousands of commuters who travel along that route on their way to the major highways that lead north to Sacramento or south to Stockton will be stuck in day-long, bumper-to-bumper tie-ups.

Then, the ultimate irony, 30 years from now when the project is complete, Lodi will have grown by another 10,000 or more residents and the entire never-ending process will have to repeat itself.

Anyone thinking about addressing the nation's massive problems of traffic congestion, air pollution, increasing water and energy demands, conversion of prime agricultural land, loss of wildlife habitat and open space, housing affordability, school overcrowding and a host of other critical issues, must forthrightly address over-population if they hope to make any headway.

Joe Guzzardi now lives in Pittsburgh, where the rate of population growth is flat. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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6 comments:

  • Bob Marconi posted at 6:11 pm on Tue, Nov 15, 2011.

    Bob Marconi Posts: 30

    Joe has trouble wrapping his mind around the number "billion". Try linking up with our illustrious president who has no problem squandering money we don't have to the tune of "trillions." There's a mind-bender for you.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 8:01 pm on Mon, Nov 14, 2011.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2689

    Ms. Bobin,
    The fact that the world's recources are grossly mismanaged does not negate the fact that the earth is not over-populated.

    Science Czar John Holdren's book "EcoScience" advocates extreme population control techniques including forced abortions and mass sterilization. Perhaps you agree with him?

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:28 pm on Mon, Nov 14, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4306

    Very nice analogy, Mr. Liebich, if all people did was live on their own little 1/4 acre and mind their own business. The amount of land we have has absolutely nothing to do with population explosions.

    What about all of the other resources that humans consume? All the resources that go into the products that are manufactured and purchased? Currently, the US is one of the populations in the world that consumes more natural resources than any other - consider food, water, televisions, cell phones, furniture and on and on and what it takes to manufacture and deliver these products.

    I think that you need to educate yourself on the amount of resources the world's population uses and will continue to use and demand before you can declare that we "have plenty of room" for everyone on earth.

     
  • joel naatus posted at 6:58 am on Sun, Nov 13, 2011.

    joel naatus Posts: 6

    Mr. Guzzardi,
    In my humble opinion your article purports to follow Europe and China towards a demographic graying of a workforce, which will hinder our country, long after you are gone, through the demise of my generation’s hope of a retirement.
    Your assessment of world population and relating it to the United States and then linking it to Lodi is pure poppycock that focuses on the past rather than the future. The world is a changing place and because of our current population demographics we are well positioned as a country to have a working populace to support retired teachers in Shangri La’s like Pittsburg. Because of immigration and population growth we will have a young workforce that can fill those $25,000 dollar homes in the rust belt like near your current home in Pittsburg. There is plenty of room to grow in areas like Detroit where the population has shrunk by hundreds of thousands in the past 10 years. California has grown because of its diverse economy and government policy over the last 30 years. Drive across this country like I did this summer and you will see a place with great natural wealth, room to grow, and huge economic potential because of our willingness to expand, compete in large melting pot, and grow as other generations did in the past.
    According to an article today in the Wall St. Journal (a bastion of right wing thought) “Whose Economy Has It Worse?” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204358004577029972941870172.html?mod=WSJ_GoogleNews&mod=igoogle_wsj_gadgv1
    “But the longer-term future appears much brighter for the U.S. than for either Europe or China. America is still the leader in the kind of cutting-edge technology that expands a nation's long-term economic potential, from renewable energy and medical devices to nanotechnology and cloud computing. Over time, these advantages will yield more robust economic growth.
    The U.S. also has a demographic advantage. In Europe, declining birthrates and rising sentiment against immigration point toward a population that will shrink by as much as 100 million people by 2050. In China, thanks in part to its one-child policy, the working population has already begun to contract. By 2030, nearly 250 million Chinese will have passed the age of 65, and providing them with pensions and health care will be very costly.
    Despite debate over illegal immigration, the U.S. population will likely rise from 310 million to about 420 million by midcentury. Between 2000 and 2050, according to Mark Schill of Praxis Strategy Group, the U.S. workforce is expected to grow by 37%. China's will shrink by 10%. Europe's will contract by 21%.”
    In short, please Mr. Guzzardi try looking on the bright side once and awhile regarding immigration and population growth.
    Sincerely, Joel Naatus
    P.S. I live and work near (less than 2 miles) from Wall St. in Jersey City, NJ, I am a former News Sentinel paperboy, and I was born and raised in Lodi.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 12:34 am on Sun, Nov 13, 2011.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2689

    We could hypothetically give every person in the world a 1/4 acre block of land and they would all fit into an area the size of Australia, each would have enough land that they could all have gardens and grow a substantial supply of their own food, and we would still have 1,603,200,000 1/4 acre blocks, or an area roughly half the size of Queensland left over - plus the entire rest of the world. Now just pause to let that sink in to your brain for a second. ALL the people, thats every man woman and child on earth would comfortably fit inside Australia, each individual person could have a 1/4 acre block of land and we would still have half of Queensland and the entire rest of the planet left totally unoccupied.

    The world is not over populated at all.


     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 12:55 pm on Sat, Nov 12, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2255

    While Mr. Guzzardi would want us to not try to wrap our minds around the concept of a "billion" anything, I suggest that we don't follow his lead - not just yet.

    He's correct when he states that "the sum is liberally tossed around in everyday language," as it comes to money we're now addressing the issue of a "trillion," which for some actually makes the notion of a billion dollars seem rather paltry. Heck, a "million" dollars is today's "thousand," if we keep with Guzzardi's thinking and I suppose our government’s as well.

    No, people will continue to procreate and in the overall scheme of things that's really a good thing. Hopefully out of all these births will come just a few who might actually be able to wrap themselves around a billion, trillion or more when it comes to our runaway spending and decide to do something about it. After all, what's 7 billion dollars nowadays anyway? Not much. But I suppose that’s far too many people for this tiny little planet to handle. Actually it’s not; and even if it is, what does Guzzardi suggest we do about it? Interestingly, he fails to offer even one possible solution of his own.

     

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