The U.S. Population Situation

While the facts of overpopulation are challenging, remember: we can choose our future. Through a dramatic and voluntary reduction in births we can begin to create a more positive and sustainable future.  See the "Help Us Now" section to learn what you can do!

  • U.S. population at the beginning of 2017 was over 324 million.1
  • U.S. population is growing by over 2,000,000 people per year -- that's 240 per hour -- about half from new births and half from immigration.1
  • According to a Global Footprint Network data, the U.S. can sustain a population of only about 150 million at a reduced consumption level similar to Europeans.2
  • The U.S. population is using renewable resources twice as fast as they can be regenerated.2
  • If everyone on the planet lived like an average American, it would take over 4 Earths to produce the renewable resources and absorb the wastes needed to support us.3
  • Each additional American requires about 1 acre of built land and highways, which means less land is available for growing food.4
  • Although the average American consumes roughly the same amount of energy as 30 years ago, the U.S. population has increased over 30%.  This has led to total U.S. energy consumption rising 25%.5
  • At the current population growth rate, the U.S. population will double in the next 100 years.  That will mean more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution of land, water, and air; less open land; more overcrowding; and more species loss and habitat destruction. 
  • Overpopulation has diluted American representative democracy.  In 1790 each member of the House of Representatives represented about 34,000 people. Today, each member represents over 735,000.
  • The average American is responsible for over 3 times the greenhouse gas emissions of the global average.6
  • U.S. natural resources are increasingly depleted and polluted:
  • The California Central Valley produces 1/4 of U.S. food.  The Central Valley Aquifer loses the water equivalent of 1 Lake Mead - the largest reservoir in the U.S. - each year.7
  • The Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to 40 million people in 7 states, lost the water equivalent of 2 Lake Meads in the past 10 years.8
  • Due to high levels of agricultural and urban pollution runoff, the Environmental Protection Agency found that the majority of streams and rivers in the U.S. cannot support healthy aquatic life.9
  • Half of Iowa topsoil has been lost in the past 150 years. Today, Iowa topsoil is being lost 16 times faster than soil is naturally created.10
  • One in five plant and animal species in the United States - nearly 1,300 total species - is at risk of extinction.11
  • The average American consumes a much larger amount of total resources than the average person from a developing country. For example, the average American uses the energy resources of 17 people from India.12
  • According to a recent Gallup survey, 138 million adults worldwide would permanently migrate to the U.S. if they could.13
  • Fewer Americans = more ample resources, less pollution, and healthier ecosystems. Smaller American families can help give the U.S. - and the world - a more sustainable future. 


1 - U.S. Census. Accessed January, 2017.
2 - Global Footprint Network. National Footprint Accounts, 2016 edition.
3 - Per Square Mile. Accessed January, 2016.
4 - Pimentel,David. Global economic and environmental aspects of biofuels.  Boca Raton, London, New York: CRC Press. 2012.
5 - U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
6 -  Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. "CO2 time series 1990-2014 per capita for world countries". Accessed January, 2016.
7 - Famiglietti, J. S., M. Lo, S. L. Ho, J. Bethune, K. J. Anderson, T. H. Syed, S. C. Swenson, C. R. de Linage, and M. Rodell. “Satellites measure recent rates of groundwater depletion in California's Central Valley”. Geophysical Research Letters. Volume 38, Issue 3, February, 2011.
8 - Castle, S. L., B. F. Thomas, J. T. Reager, M. Rodell, S. C. Swenson, and J. S. Famiglietti. “Groundwater depletion during drought threatens future water security of the Colorado River Basin”. Geophysical Research Letters. Volume 41, Issue 16, August 2014.
9 - United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed January, 2016.
10 - Environmental Working Group.  Accessed January, 2016.
11 - International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species” (2015), version 2015-3.
12 - Population Reference Bureau. 2012 World Population Data Sheet. U.S. Energy Information Administration 2012.
13 - Accessed January, 2016.