The World is Flat! at least on the Western Slope

The world is flat! At least that is what some dullards on the Western Slope proclaim.

In the December 8, 2012 Grand Junction Sentinel article Western Slope population growth slows, author Gary Harmon begins with an uplifting announcement:

Western Colorado’s buoyant growth rate during the first decade of the century slowed, and for a time reversed, according to state estimates...Mesa County saw a 0.8 percent annual growth rate from 2010 to 2011, while Delta County’s population was down 1.5 percent and Montrose County’s down 0.4 percent.

The article then goes on to illustrate our purportedly well-informed State Demographer worships at the altar of infinite growth:

State Demographer Elizabeth Garner remains optimistic that the region already has resumed growing and that its long-term prospects are for better, if not brighter days.

It seems that Harmon and Garner are on to a little secret: the world is flat (or at least it is in Grand Junction), and infinite growth really is possible! Because unless the earth is flat, infinite growth must stop.

The rule of 70 states that to find the doubling time of a growing quantity, simply divide 70 by the growth rate. So using Garner's data, 70 / .8% = 87.5 years. Thus, if the measly growth rate of .8% remains constant, Mesa County's population will double in 87.5 years.

That will mean twice the number of houses, cars, stop lights, schools, hospitals, and jail cells. Twice the demand for Colorado's dwindling water, twice the pollution and twice the garbage. Twice the demand for food which must be grown in other parts of the country. Twice the demand for petroleum - which we are already importing from other countries.

But that's not enough for Garner, who proclaims:

There won’t a sharp population increase, Garner said, “but at least there will be positive growth over the next decade.”

Clearly there is a difference between a positive growth rate and any imagined positive benefits of growth.  Garner confuses the concepts and Harmon willingly buys in.

So let's forge ahead with infinite growth in Colorado. No need to worry - the world is flat! If we're wrong, let our kids deal with it.