Last week, the Denver Post highlighted a new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the increasingly bad air quality along the Front Range Denver metropolis in Colorado.
For those of us who have lived here for decades, we’ve steadily watched the air quality get worse as the traffic increases, the landscape gets devoured by growth, and as fracking for oil and gas wells increases in the exact same area.
The Denver Post story highlights the causes of the worsening air quality including “a warming climate”, “aridity and wildfires”, “population growth”, and “industry”.
In the very next paragraph, the Post then reports that State of Colorado regulators are mulling solutions including getting people to stop using gas-powered lawnmovers, working to switch the transportation system to electric vehicles, and increasing regulations on the oil and gas industry.
What’s missing from these solutions? Controlling population growth, which is one of the key drivers of the whole air-quality mess here in Colorado.
What’s interesting in Colorado is that almost no one is publicly talking about the problem of population growth, let alone doing anything about it. No consequential environmental group is touching it, both political parties support more growth, and small ad hoc citizens groups that are fighting neighborhood growth battles are too localized and overwhelmed to tackle the issue at a statewide level.
In the meantime, growth marches forward devouring the landscape, clogging the roads, worsening air quality, draining rivers, and packing the trails with recreators. Taxes and fees are raised to pay for growth, people are packed more tightly together everywhere, and individual freedoms are increasingly squashed and berated as personally indulgent and over-consumptive. We’re told to stop driving, live in small condos, stop air travel, and to stop eating meat.
As the air quality worsens, we’re also told to not go outside to exercise. In the same Denver Post story, a pulmonologist expert is quoted, “If your air is bad for two to six weeks, you’ll start to see chronic effects on your lung functioning.”
It’s starting to sound like a science-fiction apocalyptic nightmare — a threat to the environment, to our health, and to our individual freedoms.
So, why is no one talking about opposing population growth in Colorado?