Growing population shows lure of America
The U.S. population has officially passed the 300 million mark.
AS Hawaii slept off earthquake jitters in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the United States ticked past a milestone when the nation's population reached 300 million.
According to the Census Bureau, that moment came at 1:46 a.m. local time, though as it seems with everything these days, that's in dispute with other demographic experts saying the 300 millionth person likely walked across the U.S.-Mexico border or arrived on our shores by airplane months ago.
Unlike in 1967, when President Johnson held a celebration in observance of the 200 millionth mark, Tuesday's event was a low-key affair, subdued by a harsh political clash over immigration, illegal and legal.
Nonetheless, the development is evidence of America's enduring appeal to people from elsewhere, even as the nation struggles with its identity and ideals in a post-9/11 world. Virtually no other industrialized country has seen its population still growing strong.
With the upswing come problems. More people means sharp competition for housing, a situation Hawaii knows well, as the need for homes bumps up against a desire to maintain an environmental character and lifestyle in the islands. Growth increases pressures on transportation, schools, water, utilities and myriad human and natural resources.
At 1.2 million citizens and counting, this small state should be keenly aware of the strains, but though many studies have examined the problems, levels of sustainability remain elusive and a tipping point ill-defined.
In some ways, Hawaii today mirrors what the whole of the nation is expected to be like in 2043 when Americans will number 400 million. The population then will be as racially diverse as the islands' is now with a larger percentage of people 65 and older.
That's what the experts calculate, but in an age when changes zip at nanosecond speed, the quality of life new generations will meet is impossible to predict.
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