U.S. population nears 300 million ... so what?
The numbers are now in! The statisticians at the Census Bureau officially calculate the U.S. population will hit 300 million at 7:46 a.m., Tuesday. So what, right?
Well, we don't think it's just one of those meaningless milestones. In 1967, when the country hit 200 million, it was celebrated by the public and politicians alike, including then President Lyndon Baines Johnson. It meant prosperity, opportunity, growth.
So 39 years later, we think it's a good idea to take stock of where we are now: Who are we? How old are we? What is our faith? What do 300 million people mean for how we live? Natural resources? Roads and highways? Health care?
Clearly, there are a lot of big issues raised by the approach of 300 million, issues we plan to cover on "360" in coming days, culminating in an hour-long special Monday night. All of our reports will be framed with great stats, the kind people talk about at parties and everyone says, "Wow, I didn't know that."
Here are a few. The first one deals with some factors that result in a growing population:
- One birth every 7 seconds
- One death every 13 seconds
- One international migrant (net) every 31 seconds
- Net gain of one person every 11 seconds
(U.S. Census Bureau)
That's right, the United States is gaining one person every 11 seconds. Whether this rapid growth will continue long into the future is debated by demographers, but it doesn't change the fact that for today, at least, we are a swiftly growing nation. And here are a few numbers that show just how swiftly we have grown:
- 100 million people in 1915
- 200 million people in 1967
- 300 million people in 2006
- And 400 million in about another 40 years
(Census and National Center for Health Statistics)
Despite this rapid growth, the following numbers shows we have a long, long way to go before we catch the most world's most populous nations:
- World: 6.5 billion
- China: 1.3 billion
- India: 1.1 billion
- U.S.: 300 million
(CIA -- The World Factbook)
When Paul Ehrlich published "The Population Bomb" in 1968, the term "overpopulation" became a buzzword and a warning. Since then, many experts have discredited some of his most dire conclusions. But now, we have become a nation of 300 million people. What do you think of this milestone?