Over the Hill

How will we provide for all these new babies?

I frequently hear a complaint about our dwindling water reserves. People ask, “Why are developers allowed to continue building new housing projects? They’ll use up our already scarce water.”

Bureaucrats might answer that question by referring to the “adopted master plan” and “existing commitments.” But I believe the continued urge to create new housing projects is something deeper. On some level we all know our human population is increasing and needs more places to live.

National Geographic magazine has reported that the Earth’s human population in 1930 was 2 billion. Today it is about 7.3 billion. I point that out frequently because I was born in 1930, and I’m astonished that we human beings have more than tripled our population in my lifetime.

During that same period, the United States’ population grew from 123 million to 321 million. And California’s population grew from 5.7 million to 38.8 million. Sure, California’s population may now grow more slowly, but it certainly won’t stop. And the newly arriving Californians will need housing.

Some of them will have come from less-pleasant parts of the world. To them, our state and county will seem like much better places. A shortage of houses won’t stop them from coming here. They’ll live three families to a house if necessary.

So until we find acceptable ways to curb human reproduction, we’ll have to build more housing projects and develop every available water source. It also seems obvious that water will continue to grow more and more costly.

Curbing human reproduction won’t be easy. Thirty-five years ago, the government of China started enforcing a rule that allowed couples to have only one child. China is the most populous nation on Earth, with 1.3 billion people. Reports about the Chinese one-child policy were in the Tribune Friday and Saturday.

The Chinese government enforced the one-child rule brutally. For example, in 2012 authorities learned a mother of one child was also seven months pregnant. She was beaten, blindfolded and taken to a hospital. She was injected with a substance that caused her to give birth hours later to a dead baby girl.

The Chinese government claims the one-child rule kept 400 million babies from being born. Officials say that helped China develop rapidly. But the pool of Chinese workers is now shrinking as they get older. The Chinese government announced last week that couples will now be allowed to have two children.

I can’t imagine the U.S. government ever trying to limit American couples to just two children. But it’s time we Americans started thinking about whether we can actually provide properly for any more children than that.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.