So, when my overeating means I can no longer fit comfortably into my clothes, I have a “Belt Crisis“? That’s the logic of San Francisco, and much of California today, when they discuss the “Housing Crisis”. Think about it – a state that has an unpredictable water supply, that has grown from a human population of 19,953,134 in 1970 to probably 40 million today (depending upon who hides from the next Census), which has “grown” no new land nor water, and which has seen the snowpack irreparably diminished by the Climate Crisis – is saying it needs more HOUSING?! How about “we need LESS PEOPLE”? and More Water?
There are a couple of ecological concepts which bear on this reality and discussion. One is called “Carrying Capacity”, the population that can be sustained FOREVER in a given environment. “Sustainability” refers to the same idea, the concept espoused by Native Americans that we should live in balance with nature. It is OBVIOUS from just the recent historical record that California lacks the water supply for the current population. As the above chart shows, there were a couple of droughts in the Middle Ages which exceeded 150 years EACH. Those droughts were caused by the “medieval warming” which was really just a climate SHIFT and not a worldwide warming. What is frightening, and should govern our planning in California, is that the current Climate Crisis IS WARMING THE ENTIRE GLOBE, and that when normal, cyclical climate changes like the “medieval warming” shift occur again, they will be HOTTER and LONGER due to the thousands of years of extra carbon dioxide we have added to the atmosphere. [an excellent book on this topic is The Great Warming]
What goes unsaid is who benefits and who is harmed by adding more “housing”. “Developers” certainly gain, as do construction subcontractors. However, other property owners suffer, because increasing supply decreases prices. In addition, congestion and pollution and the burden on civic services – which is not fully paid for by the new developments – decrease quality of life for the existing residents. Some rare juristictions have been able to halt “development”. In fact, the ecological term for the expansion of our species is “Takeover”, not “development”. We are taking habitat away from the birds and bees and trees and stacking humans on it. The profit motive and related bribery are tough to stop, and that is why we continue our Takeover. But it is not sustainable. There are 7.5 billion people in the world, and we cannot fit them all into San Francisco, let alone California or the U.S.