You don't have to take a jet to see Third World growth - just take a look around the entire Sacramento region! California, Sacramento County, Placer County and El Dorado County are unfortunately experiencing the same growth rates as many of the world's poorest and most overpopulated countries. Is that what we want to bequeath to future generations?

[This was based on a well-received audience handout recently presented to the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County, California on behalf of their Population Study Committee. Other Leagues in the state will be using all or part of this handout for both population and growth management projects.]

The CIA's ( World Fact Book 2001 "Population Growth Rates by Country" was compared to the CA Department of Finance ( data by county "City/County Population Estimates with Annual Percent Change: Jan 2000 - Jan 2001" (note: the CIA includes disputed territories as countries). A "sister country" could only qualify if its rounded-off growth rate was within .1% of the county/state.

The world growth rate is 1.25% and 27 countries (11.6%) had a 3.0% or higher growth rate. If Placer County was indeed a country with its 3.5% growth rate, there would be only eight other "countries" in the world with a higher growth rate: Christmas Island, Eritrea, Gaza Strip, Marshall Islands, Mayotte, Montserrat, Northern Mariana Islands, and Sierra Leone.

The sources of population growth are generally different between California (immigration) and the rest of the world (fertility). No matter what the source of this rapid growth, or where it occurs, these communities will have to struggle with resource depletion, infrastructure strain and other sustainability issues as a result. We must reduce growth because the best conservation and community planning efforts in the world cannot keep pace with exponential growth rates.

Population Growth sisters

California - 1.8 % growth rate: Algeria, Andorra, Bolivia, Egypt, El Salvador, French Polynesia, Ghana, Liberia, Macau, Swaziland, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Zambia

Sacramento Co. - 2.3%: American Samoa, Angola, British Virgin Islands, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Falkland Islands, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Libya, Nepal, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea

Placer Co. - 3.5%: Afghanistan, Kuwait, Northern Mariana Islands, Oman, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Turks and Caicos Islands, West Bank, Yemen

California Meltdown

"The key challenge facing this state for the next century will be growth...the remorseless devouring of landscape is pushing increasing multitudes towards a meltdown of rebellion over quality-of-life".

California historian Kevin Starr, San Jose Mercury, 3/7/00

We are ALREADY Experiencing Severe Multiple and Synergistic Crises

Water -- Energy -- Housing -- Sprawl -- Air Quality -- Biodiversity Loss

By adding the size of a San Francisco every year in population, how do you expect our community quality-of-life to fare in the coming years?

Population Committee Review and Conclusions

Reviewed: data on CA migration, quality-of-life criteria, community assessment studies


  1. California's deteriorating quality-of-life may have started in the 1970s according to one national study which found it ranked 41st in the nation in 1980 and 42nd in 1990 - even before the Great Immigration Boom of the 1990s (larger than the post-WWII Baby Boom). (
  2. El Dorado County's rapid population growth is predominantly from migration (3 times higher than natural increase), presumably from more congested urban areas within the state. International migration is negligible, however, it exerts tremendous social, economic and environmental pressures on sending counties (strong push factor).
  3. Most migration within the state/country is for economic reasons (pull factors) - better job, lower cost of housing, and shorter commute. Non-economic reasons include: air quality, schools, crime and natural amenities (climate, openspace)
  4. Several studies emphasized that population growth by itself does not automatically predict lower quality-of-life, but if resources and infrastructure don't at least keep pace with growth, then quality-of-life is reduced. ("Kid Friendly Cities",
  5. The popular Smart Growth movement has largely failed to live up to promises to curtail sprawl in areas of rapid population growth. Example: Los Angeles County received numerous national awards for Smart Growth innovations between 1970-1990 for increasing density in the core area; however at the same time it paved over almost 300 square miles of peripheral openspace (
  6. Population questions are now starting to be included in community assessments surveys. Example: the regional San Fernando Valley model planning program found residents ranked population issues as the fifth highest concern with regards to quality-of-life there (note that all other ranked criteria can be directly related to population issues too). (
  7. Organizations have formed to assist communities to find ways to reduce costly population growth while fostering economic growth: Rocky Mountain Institute ( and Alternatives to Growth (

Meltdown Policy Choices

Can we afford to overlook ANY opportunities in policy development???

  1. Automatic reaction: must increase resource supply (more schools, housing, power plants, dams, roads, etc.)
  2. Emerging paradigm: conservation, new technologies and better planning (recycling, more efficiency, solar/wind power, Smart Growth, etc.)
  3. Neglected population "orphan": return immigration to traditional levels, national population plan in place to support, not undermine, community planning (systems approach)

Fast Facts on U.S./CA Population

Almost 60% of all pregnancies in the US are unintended. Better access to family planning, including contraception, is necessary so that women can choose the size of their families and delay pregnancy.

The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. is twice that of any other industrialized nation and most of these are unintended.

85% of health insurance plans cover abortions and sterilizations, but only 15% of these cover all 5 FDA-approved reversible methods of contraception. The cost of providing coverage for contraceptive drugs is $1.25 per month per employee, although the out-of-pocket expense to an uncovered employee is $25- $50 a month.

92% of California's population growth during the past decade was due to mass immigration (immigrants plus births to immigrants here). This state receives 40% of all immigrants to the U.S.

The U.S. now accepts over 1 million legal immigrants per year which is almost 5 times its traditional level. Illegal immigration is soaring to almost 800,000 per year.

In just fifty years the U.S. population will be almost a half billion (almost double) with 90 percent due to mass immigration since 1970.

The Democratic Challenge:

How can we establish an objective, constructive and inclusive national dialogue on population stabilization to prevent the U.S. from becoming an economic and environmental Third World country?