At 07:46 East Coast Time on the 17th October 2006 in the United States, a momentous event occurred. The 300 millionth American was born. Or as some people in the US have been pointing out, they most likely just walked across the border. The media not surprisingly prefers the baby story; a photogenic child untainted by the dirty politics of US immigration so we'll stick with the script. 300 million seems small potatoes compared to the enormous populations of China or India, both well over a billion people and still growing, but it is the average US citizen's consumption of resources that makes 300 million such a frightening milestone.
The 300 millionth American will live longer than almost everyone else born on the same day on the planet, about 80 years. In their lifetime, they will consume more of the Earth's food, water, energy, metals, forests and fish than any other person accept their fellow US citizens. Currently, with around 5 percent of the world's population, the US consumes about 25 percent of the world's energy.
It is perhaps fitting that little miss or master 300 million was born just over a week after the Earth passed this years 'world overshoot day'. The day each year that the world has already consumed a years worth of available natural resources, for the rest of the year, we stop living off the interest and start eating into our ecological capital. 'Overshoot day' has been creeping forward, arriving earlier each year at a steady rate since counting began in the late 1980's.
To complete the week of synergies, Monday the 16th October was World Food Day. The latest report on world hunger shows that 'The first UN Millennium Development Goal' aim of halving world hunger by 2015 is likely to be missed. Instead of global hunger being reduced, the situation is getting worse with now more than 850 million people across the world going hungry, with an additional 5 million hungry people being added each year.
If the pattern of population growth in America continues, in 2042 the 400 millionth American will arrive. But by then, the world will have a population of around 9 billion, climate change will be felt full force across the globe and forests and fish will be in very short supply. That is, unless we choose a different path.
In the fast paced, spin doctored world of American politics, where the words democracy and freedom are used to justify just about anything, the discussions that are conspicuous by their absence are democracy of resource use and freedom from hunger.