Too many people
by Margaret McCown Liles
ew people are aware that October 21- 27 was World Population Awareness Week. Yet, all residents of San Diego County daily encounter the ramifications of too many people - too many people on the roads, too many people on the beach, too many children in the schools. We are told to expect a million more people by 2020.
Early this October, I spent an enchanting week on the Turkish Aegean coast - a land similar to San Diego County in climate and topography. One highlight of that trip was a visit to the Dilek Yarmadas National Park. The park is on a peninsula south of the resort town of Kusadasi and north of the Meander River delta. Here, the relatively barren hillsides of olive groves and overgrazed pasture give way to a rich native ecosystem. The fauna is reported to include wild boar, foxes, jackals, striped hyenas, martens, porcupines, lynxes, badger, bears and leopards! I saw none of these rare creatures, but I did see, touch, and smell the wonderful flora. The native olive trees grow compatibly with carob, cypress, oriental plane, sweet bay, stone pine and judas trees (to name but a few). This was the landscape encountered by the ancient Greeks who founded the nearby port cities of Priene and Miletus - ports long since left high and dry by the silt of the Meander River.
I felt at home in this park. It was like walking through parts of San Diego County. Dilek Yarmadas National Park gives a tantalizing taste of what these Turkish Aegean hills were like before two thousand years of human exploitation. In San Diego, we have a chance to save our wonderful back country habitats from similar devastation.
Too many people - San Diego already has too many people. Yet politicians insist there is no choice, we must accept more people. This may be, but it seems to me the fewer the better! What can be done to slow this growth to a point of stabilization? I have a few suggestions.
First, all those of childbearing age should consider limiting their family size to one or two children. Sixty percent of the growth in San Diego County is estimated to come not from immigration, but from within. Those of us who are beyond childbearing should counsel their children to limit the size of their families. Those who insist on large families should consider adoption - or pay more in taxes.
Second, we can vote for city and county administrators who are dedicated to stopping growth and developing a stabilized economy.
Third, we can become more educated about the overpopulation problem. Overpopulation is the root of almost all environmental problems. Addressing environmental problems without addressing overpopulation is like fixing a leaky fountain pen with a rubber glove.
The lands surrounding the Aegean have been stripped of most of their native flora and fauna. It was only in the twentieth century that an effort was begun to counter two-thousand years of overuse by humans. Progress appears to be slow and difficult. It doesn't have to be that way in Southern California. We can save the natural habitats we now have. But it will take a huge political will.
Overpopulation is indeed a world problem. I have suggested how we can act locally. But we also have to think globally. It is difficult for us to act globally, but we can support and insist upon national representatives that can act on a global scale, representatives that support international family planning. Again, it will take strong political will. It will take an awareness of the major world problem - overpopulation.
Margaret McCown Liles, is a former Chair of the Population Committee, Sierra Club San Diego. Her email is: mmlilesaol.com.