Comment and Debate: Population growth is the problem
Few publications offer any in-depth coverage of U.S. population growth, and the Free Press deserves credit for including the views of people like George Plumb (Green Mountain: “Already over the edge?” Dec. 16), the executive director of Vermonters for a Sustainable Population.
Far more likely to get coverage these days is the claim that population growth is so anemic that it portends great economic hardships. This reflects the conventional wisdom that continued population expansion is needed to support the baby boomers in retirement.
Discussing census data showing a slight reduction in Vermont’s population last year, a recent article (“Experts: Vermont population loss to challenge economic growth,” Feb. 13) offers speculation that this decline resulted from hardships brought on by Tropical Storm Irene. But the article also quotes UVM economist Art Woolf’s more troubling explanation, “We need to recognize Vermont is not a very attractive place for people to move to.”
Woolf later submitted a letter to the editor (“Growth is relative,” Feb. 21) questioning the context of related coverage of rapid population growth in Chittenden County.
“Although that sounds like breakneck growth,” he wrote, “it’s still less than the U.S. population growth rate. A better way to put it is that Chittenden County’s growth rate is low, but Vermont’s growth rate is very low.”
Woolf sees growth in Vermont and even Chittenden County as insufficiently rapid when compared to growth of the overall U.S. population. I suppose this could be of some concern if, as many seem to believe, U.S. population growth had slowed down in the past generation. In reality, the U.S. population has been growing very rapidly.
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