Growth, smart growth, and sustainability

Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?

Every increment of added population, and every added increment of affluence invariably destroys an increment of the remaining environment.

We hear a lot today about 'smart growth,' as though 'smart growth' was the magic key to the achievement of sustainability. A central ingredient in 'smart growth' is regional planning; regional planning encourages more population growth, and population growth is unsustainable. It is thus clear that 'smart growth' can't solve the problems.

'Smart growth' destroys the environment. 'Dumb growth' destroys the environment. The only difference is that 'smart growth' destroys the environment with good taste.
That in itself is a worthwhile goal, but one is still destroying the environment. It's like booking passage on the Titanic. If you are dumb, you go steerage. If you are 'smart' you go first class. But either way, the result is the same."
"Smart growth is a means of making unsustainability as pleasant as possible."
Prof. Al Bartlett
Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

Is growth necessary?

In California, 95% of sprawl is directly correlated with population growth. The Urban Sprawl - NumbersUSA, shows the surprising relationship between population growth and sprawl.

We've heard the incessantly repeated mantras of the pro-growth community:

"We need to bring in business to bring down taxes."

"This development will give us jobs."

"Environmental protection will hurt the economy."

"Growth is good for us."

There is plenty of evidence that disproves these deeply held pro-growth beliefs. See Twelve Big Myths About Growth.

The [smart] growth management movement in America must be recognized for what it is: an institutionalized form of support for the growth imperative."
- The Growth Management Delusion, by Dr. Gabor Zovanyi, published by NPG.
In order to create a sustainable economy we must first discard the goal of macro economic growth and replace it with the goal of a no-growth, steady-state economy."
The Earth is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the Earth's limits... Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth..."
- World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, issued by 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, 1992.

Mass immigration will be significantly responsible for U.S. population doubling this century - within the lifetimes of today's children. Allowing this immigration-driven doubling to occur is short-sighted and foolish. May future generations forgive us.


Limits to economic growth