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Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Too many people, too little power
People ëlongage,í power shortage

by Ric Oberlink

Per capita consumption of electricity in California has been flat for 25 years. In 1979, per capita consumption of electricity in the state was 7,292 kilowatt-hours. In 1999, it was down to 6,952 kilowatt-hours. Twenty years of more gadgets, new toys, and bigger appliances yielded a 5 percent decrease in per capita consumption of electricity.

So California should be in Fat City regarding energy supplies. We shouldnít need any new power plants. We should be able to shut down the dirtiest of the old plants because weíre using less electricity. However, during that same 20 years the stateís population grew from 23 million to 33 millionóa 43 percent increase!

California doesnít have a power shortage. It has a population "longage." The power "shortages"ólike traffic congestion, sprawl, depletion of habitat for wildlife, and virtually every environmental problem in Californiaóare due primarily to population growth.

Last year California grew by 571,000 people and now has a population in excess of 34 million. Its annual growth rate of 1.7 percent exceeds that of Bangladesh. We think of Europe as the crowded Old World and think of America, especially the West, as the land of wide-open spaces. Yet the population density of California already exceeds that of Europe and in 30 years it will exceed that of present-day China. Clearly, itís time to say enough is enough.

Many people mistakenly think Californiaís population has grown because people move here from other states. In fact, during the last decade more people moved from California to other states than migrated from other states to California.

Most population growth in the U.S. is due to immigration. The baby boom of the í50s and í60s has been supplanted by the "immigration boom" of the í80s and í90s that continues today. According to the Census Bureau, two-thirds of future population growth will come from immigration. The proportion for California is higher. Californiaís immigrant population is almost 9 millionóexceeding the combined population of Norway and Costa Rica.

Previously, we worried about energy shortfalls only in summer when air conditioners are humming. Now we have experienced Stage 3 power alertsóthe highest level of energy emergencyóin December and January. Yet politicians and media have failed to identify the cause. People are not using more electricity. There are simply more people.

After brownouts in July of 2000, Pacific Gas and Electric proposed placing a floating power plant on San Francisco Bay. Environmentalists threatened to board and disrupt the floating power plant should it sail through the Golden Gate. The idea was scrapped.

Given the obvious connection between population growth and the demand for new power plants, you might think that environmental groups would emphasize stopping the stateís population growth. They donít. Oppose new power plant construction? Sure. Oppose the population growth that causes it? Too controversial.

Not all environmentalists are so timid. The late David Brower resigned last year as a director of the Sierra Club, in large part, because of its failure to take a responsible position on population growth and immigration. "Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us, and immigration is part of that problem," Brower said.

Gov. Gray Davis has offered bold rhetoric, but nothing of substance to address Californiaís energy problemsólong-term or short-term.* He certainly didnít mention population growth in California. Let us hope that other leaders have more courage.

Ric Oberlink is an environmental consultant for Californians for Population Stabilization.

* California paid out $9 billion for extra power from mid 2000 to presstime, according to Arcataís pro-conservation Sacramento lawmaker Wes Chesbro, whom we ran into at the co-op. We pointed out that it wouldnít have been necessary had their been some conservation.

Editorís note:
Regarding the sensitive issue of immigration, it is necessary to go deeper than to simply boil down problems to too many people and needlessly high legal immigration quotas.

Policy change, assuming one could counter pro-immigration interests such as megacorporate lobbyists in Washington D.C., can prove to be a false course of action if it is not done along with at least a strong attempt to eliminate oppression and exploitation globally. The U.S. and its corporate agenda has disturbed local economics and communities, often with disastrous results.



Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit torganization.