The United States has reached an historic milestone. At 13.46 CET precisely its population hit 300 million. No-one will know exactly who the 300 millionth person is. It could have been a newborn baby, or someone crossing one of the country’s borders. Basing timings on births, deaths and migration, a population clock has calculated the US gains a new person every 11 seconds.
It is the third most inhabited country in the world- trailing behind China and India. It is also the only industralised country to have strong population growth. Politically and economically this is usually seen as a sign of strength.
However it does have its downside as Mark Mather from the Population Reference Bureau explains:
“There are lots of challenges that come along with this rapid population growth, especially in terms of land use and potential environmental threats to our air, our water and our energy sources.”
As the population grows so do its demands. On average Americans consume three times more water than anyone else in the world, and 40 percent of its rivers are polluted.
Cars are another example. Back in 1967, when the US counted 200 million inhabitants ,there were 98 million cars. Now that number has jumped to 237 million. The transport sector on its own is responsible for a third of all global carbon dioxide emissions. The consequences that entails for the planet are huge.
At present it is calculated that a quarter of green house gases come from the United states. In 2020 it will be accountable for 36 percent. Americans only represent 5 percent of the world’s population but consume a quarter of global resources. That, says analysts, means the country’s ecological impact is the biggest in the world.