The census people say my hometown, Paso Robles, now has the second largest population of any city in this county. I read that earlier this month in the Tribune.
Paso Robles also chalked up the largest population increase of any city in the county over the past 10 years. But those are dubious achievements these days.
After all, Paso Robles is now entangled in a painful ruckus over how to pay for more water for its growing population. It also lacks money for street repairs.
And Paso Robles public schools are so short of money, they had to issue layoff notices to 28 teachers.
I do miss the Paso Robles I moved my family into in 1962. Back then, its population was 6,800.
The 2010 census says it’s now 29,793. We can round that up to 30,000. The census takers probably missed some people who live under the bridges or in their cars.
Today’s 30,000 Roblans use a whole lot more water than 6,800 did back in 1962. We also discharge a whole lot more sewage these days.
We also use a lot more gasoline and generate a lot more air pollution. And now in the 21st century, we use a zillion more plastic bags and infinitely more electronic equipment containing various exotic and hazardous materials.
Our whole nation is struggling to cope with growth. In 1960, the U.S. population was about 179 million. Now it’s 309 million.
That’s an increase of 130 million in 50 years. Heck, 130 million people are more than the entire U.S. population was when I was born in 1930.
So while I was pondering all that, I took the time to look at the March issue of National Geographic. It said our Earth’s population will reach 7 billion this year. That’s an increase of 4.5 billion since 1950. Also, another 2 billion people are expected by 2050.
And an increased number of people are earning somewhat higher incomes in some places. So, more people are able to buy phones, computers and cars.
The point of the article is that more people will be buying more of everything until, inevitably, our Earth’s cupboard will be as bare as Mother Hubbard’s. We are rapidly using up all the stuff we need to survive.
Around 1950, the New Yorker magazine carried a Charles Addams cartoon that foreshadowed this predicament.
It showed a large rocketship waiting on a frame. A ramp led to the rocketship’s open door. Walking up the ramp two-by-two were pairs of every species of animal on Earth.
Reach Phil Dirkx at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2372.