To the editor:
The headline of the January 4-5 Weekend edition of the Register-Star read “Exodus from NY Tops Nation,” which highlighted that New York State was ranked as -1 in the nation for population decline. What a wonderful opportunity!
I was pleased that the article presented some benefits to this situation but wished the article had also considered the environmental and social importance of this trend continuing at a time when we need to seriously take on the myth that an economy or a population can grow forever. When we consider economic growth to be like the law of gravity — “it just is” — we are truly doomed. This is a time when we need our best minds to focus on restructuring economic wellbeing into a model that includes contraction and deflation (and hopefully also greater economic equality within the population).
The opportunities of population decline, besides allowing the planet to heal after a century of massive resource extraction, pollution, and failing geo-engineering, are mind-boggling. Consider the possibilities for better health care and housing for all, a pace of life that is more often chosen than imposed, a focus on communities that work together with all age cohorts on their particular regional distinctiveness, clean and renewed swimming holes, less litigiousness, and a reduction and reorientation of our massive national defense expenditures towards education, public works here in the US, and the arts.
I imagine tourist and travel sites with far smaller crowds, taxes going down each year as government spending decreases, the meaningful work and pleasure of taking an abandoned housing development and restoring the land it sits upon to that land’s original state, and welcoming new folks into our communities, rather than fearing them, because their contributions will be a blessing.
The prospects for the our planet are often presented as bleak, but that headline in the Register-Star got me thinking about all the what-ifs. If only we could get up the guts to start addressing the situation by ditching the economic growth model we have imposed upon ourselves.