I'm glad to read that the long-standing debate in Lodi about preserving a greenbelt is alive and well. [Local Weigh in on Greenbelt, Lodi News-Sentinel, October 24, 2009]
Inevitably, however, the acreage between Stockton and Lodi will be paved over because of population increases.
The dispute about whether to create and sustain a greenbelt should be addressed in two parts.
First, let's fight to retain our precious acreage. But, let's put as much energy into advocating for population control so that eventually we won't have to argue about how we use our irreplaceable land.
Once the houses are built, agricultural land becomes cement, highways have to be upgraded and traffic increases.
Building in the city creates other equally undesirable consequences. Noise, crime and stress levels rise.
And while some readers accuse me of ranting against all hope for population stability, at least three powerful people have recently joined the cause.
According to reports, billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett met privately at the Manhattan home of Nobel laureate biologist Sir Paul Nurse, president of Rockefeller University. [Billionaire Club in Bid to Curb Overpopulation, by John Harlow, London Times, May 9, 2009]
Gates, Buffet and Nurse need to spread their message among the unenlightened. If they don't, then California is on its way to being the equal to China.
According to recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates, by 2030 California's population density will equal China's. Unlike the United States, however, thirty years ago China came to terms with its overpopulation when it instituted a one child per family policy.
In 1850, California's first year of statehood, it had only 92,000 residents. Today, that number has risen to more than 38 million. By 2030, projections put the number at 50 million.
In a state that claims environmental sensitivity and as proof points to having more hybrid vehicles than all the other 49 combined, California nevertheless leads in population explosion. Roughly 500,000 residents have been added annually for more than a decade.
With all the emphasis on going green, limiting population is the ultimate green solution. Right now is a great time to raise awareness.
Everyone could play a role in promoting smaller family size, a harder sell than it should be.
Politicians and the media treat population as if the subject is a minefield. Given the consequences of ignoring it, however, their neglect is unforgivable.
In today's tight economy, few can afford to rear more than two children. To encourage replacement level only families, tax credits for a third or more child should be eliminated. Anyone who wants more kids should have to pay for them out of their own pocket.
Beginning in primary school, age-appropriate sex education must be provided to all children and adults. For administrators who don't want to involve the controversial Planned Parenthood, they can invite the California Office of Family Planning to classrooms.
Insurance plans should include coverage for all FDA approved contraceptive methods.
All these solutions require outside intervention. But as with so many other social problems, the best place to start is at home.
Parents, relatives and mature adult role models should not hesitate to reinforce to teenagers that most are simply not ready emotionally and financially to shoulder the burden of child rearing.
Here's a few simple words I recommend to get the overpopulation message across: "You can't handle it."
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.