WITHIN A WEEK or so, the Census Bureau will declare that the population of the United States has reached the 300 million mark. As I write this sentence, the bureau's Population Clock, found at www.census.gov, reads 299,901,023. It took thousands of years for the population of what's now called the United States to reach 100 million, a milestone achieved in 1915; 52 years, to 1967, to add the next 100 million; and 39 years, to 2006, to add the next 100 million. And there are more coming, as the U.S. population is projected to reach perhaps 400 million around mid-century, and may continue climbing beyond that. Whoops, the Population Clock now says 299,901,426. I must learn to type faster!
The rising population will bring with it more: more of everything. More people, more sprawl, more creativity, more traffic, more love, more noise, more diversity, more energy use, more happiness, more loneliness, more fast food, more art, more knowledge, maybe even more wisdom. Today the United States is 50% larger in population and development footprint than a mere four decades ago, and if current trends hold, four decades from now it will be a third larger still. That means our national infrastructure must grow by at least another third to accommodate further population -- a third more highways, housing subdivisions, schools, trash landfills and everything else. I hope you like the United States, because there is a great deal more of it coming.