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!
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  • U.S. population at the beginning of 2020 was over 329 million.1
  • U.S. population is growing by over 1,700,000 people per year -- that's over 200 per hour -- about half from new births and half from immigration.1
  • According to Global Footprint Network data, the U.S. can sustain a population of only about 150 million at current consumption levels.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 150 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 a ten year period.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 more than 10 people from India.12
  • According to a recent Gallup survey, 158 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. 

Footnotes

  1. U.S. Census. Accessed January, 2020. census.gov/popclock/world.
  2. Global Footprint Network. National Footprint Accounts, 2016 edition.
  3. Per Square Mile. Accessed January, 2016. persquaremile.com/2012/08/08/if-the-worlds-population-lived-like/.
  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. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1029/2010GL046442/full.
  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. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL061055/abstract.
  9. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed January, 2016. epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-surveys/national-rivers-and-streams-assessment-2008-2009-results.
  10. Environmental Working Group.  Accessed January, 2016. ewg.org/losingground/report/executive-summary.html.
  11. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species” (2015), version 2015-3. iucnredlist.org.
  12. The World Bank. Accessed January, 2019. databank.worldbank.org/data/reports.aspx?source=2&series=EG.USE.PCAP.KG.OE.
  13. Gallup.com. Accessed January, 2019. news.gallup.com/poll/245255/750-million-worldwide-migrate.