New NPG President’s Column Draws Link Between Toledo Water Ban and U.S. Population Growth

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Connects Growing Population to Increasing Climate Change and Agricultural Runoff, Serious Threats to Our Nation’s Water Supply

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Until we slow, halt, & eventually reverse our population growth, Toledo is another grim warning of what awaits our nation's future.

After the Mayor of Toledo, OH rescinded the tap water ban affecting up to 400,000 residents, Negative Population Growth (NPG) released a new President's Column on August 12th regarding the precarious state of the Great Lakes. Titled “Toledo Today, America Tomorrow: The Link between Population Growth and Microcystin,” the piece warns Americans not to casually dismiss the serious threat that overpopulation poses to our nation’s water supply.

In the online column, NPG Deputy Director Tracy Canada identifies what microcystin is – and exactly how it presents a serious concern for millions of Americans. She notes: “Some species of cyanobacteria, known as ‘blue-green algae,’ produce toxins called microcystins. Microcystin-LR, found throughout the Great Lakes, is the most toxic form. It can be fatal to pets or livestock, and can cause a number of health problems – including liver damage – in humans. So this algae problem is quite serious, and it has direct ties to U.S. population size and growth.”

Canada explains: “Climate change produces warmer, wetter weather – which is ideal for blue-green algae to bloom and produce microcystin. With an increasing population we see higher consumption, higher pollution, and resulting climate change. Phosphorous and nitrogen, both major components of agricultural and animal waste runoff, further encourage algae to bloom. With more people to feed, agricultural activity grows to meet the rising demand and to gain from current high world prices, implementing more nitrogen and phosphorous-rich fertilizers.” She adds: “After the heavy rains associated with climate change, you get more runoff going into the water supply. It's a vicious cycle, and it's one of our own making.”

“Toledo is just the most recent and dramatic example,” Canada noted. “For years, environmentalists have been calling for the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorous polluting the Great Lakes. Until the laws are changed, problems like the one in Ohio are going to continue.” Even with up to 400,000 residents affected by the tap water ban, Toledo isn’t the largest city located on the Great Lakes. She adds: “Just 60 miles north, the Detroit metro area had a 2010 population of nearly 4.3 million people. The Greater Chicago area off Lake Michigan had almost 9.5 million residents in 2010. Imagine the impact if similar microcystin situations occur in those areas.”

Canada concludes: “The experts have determined that Toledo’s microcystin levels have returned to normal… for now. Yet the root of this problem – our nation’s population growth – has been ignored throughout all of the debate. The Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh surface water on earth, and they provide 84% of North America’s supply. 40 million people rely on them as a source of drinking water. If we continue on our present course, these lakes could become irreversibly contaminated. The results of our inaction could be catastrophic for tens of millions of Americans. Until we slow, halt, and eventually reverse our population growth, Toledo is another grim warning of what awaits our nation’s future.”

Founded in 1972, NPG is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to educating the American public and political leaders regarding the damaging effects of population growth. We believe that our nation is already vastly overpopulated in terms of the long-range carrying capacity of its resources and environment. NPG advocates the adoption of its Proposed National Population Policy, with the goal of eventually stabilizing U.S. population at a sustainable level – far lower than today’s. We do not simply identify the problems – we propose solutions. For more information, visit our website at

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Tracy Canada

Craig Lewis

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