Minnesotans For Sustainability


Sustainable:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.





November 5, 1997


(Questions submitted by ZPG-Seattle Chapter and reply of 17 July 1997)

You asked how you could help us carry out a successful project as a cosponsor.

Organizing a citizens dialogue session or town meeting in your area would be extremely helpful (whenever funding is secured). The greater number of citizens groups which occur around the country, either locally or regionally, the more information we will have to give the participants at the Pre-conference. Each citizens group would submit a summary of the results to a national coordinator.

An agenda/survey list has not been developed yet and we are open to suggestions. We may need volunteers to help on a Citizens Dialogue committee to develop the agenda and also on compiling the results (email would almost be a necessity.) Phone conferences are a possibility if we get an organizational-type grant. We will undoubtedly want to use some of the same questions from the Focus groups. We have a proposal from Belden & Russonello which we could forward to you, keeping in mind it is not for publication or for sharing too widely.

General Statement. Please keep in mind that we purposefully did not outline in our document what all the answers should be before the conversations take place, except for the most important--that population needs to be stabilized; and we feel the adoption and implementation of a population policy, including establishing a national commission to formulate that policy, is the best course of action.

However, whether one believes a national policy is necessary or not, we need the ideas and expertise of our environmental leaders. I know you are well aware of the connection between population growth and the environment. We hope your group will want to join us as a cosponsor in this exceptional opportunity to come to the table and make recommendations. We need the support of state and local groups as well as national.

The hard questions may not be answered until Phase I, and II of the project; when the participants (experts) get together to engage in discussion. Phase I is the professionally directed focus groups and citizens dialogue groups around the country, offering their input to the national conversation, which in turn will guide the experts in Phase II.

Questions and USS3P Replies

Question 1. A time frame should be erected and rigorously adhered to. The human population of this planet will overwhelm the available resources if controls are not installed, especially in high consumption countries like the U.S.

Answer - One would certainly hope that this would be recommended. The PCSD Task Force on Population & Consumption states in Goal #1 "Stabilize U.S. population as early as possible in the next century..."

Question 2. Differences should be put aside by active participants involved in order to accomplish a population policy. We recognize that every goal of ZPG may not be accomplished by the U.S. Population Policy Project but we are willing to compromise, in some areas, because the overall benefits of this project are so great.

Answer - This is an excellent statement! and certainly what we are hoping for, although we have encountered several groups who prefer to stick to their own agendas rather than joining in to discuss the larger goal which I would assume that we all have--population stabilization.

Question 3. Inaccuracies and generalities should be avoided in order to reduce opponent ammunition. We do not want this project to be based on what could be characterized as "alarmist propaganda" such as referring to the Population Reference Bureau's growth rate of 2.4 million per year as "nearly 3 million."

Answer - Absolutely agree there is no place for either if we are going to be successful! We are planning to have the best minds and most responsible scientists to bring the true facts to the table.

Question 4. An effort should be made to encourage a representative cross section of the American public to participate in the formation of the policy.

Answer - This is included in our document.

Question 5. Opposing viewpoints should be recognized and openly argued within the document to defuse potential objections.

Answer - [Recommendations to the Administration] - I have no doubt that these will be included.

Question 6. The policy should address the U.S. misconception that economic growth is dependent upon population growth.

Answer - We hope to have experts such as economist Herman Daly, either as advisors and/or participants; also Paul Hawken ("The Ecology of Commerce".) [Note: Both have accepted and are now on our updated Advisors list below.]

Question 7. In addition to the key issue of population stabilization, this policy should address the related issues of resource depletion, quality of life and environmental impact.

Answer - A major issue included in the Plan.

Question 8. The changing demographic character of the U.S. human population should be recognized.

Answer - Sensitive issue, but like immigration, it must be addressed.

Question 9. Funding sources should not influence the context of the document.

Answer - Guaranteed. In the first place, they can tell from our document if they do not agree with it and would not fund it if they didn't.

Question 10. a) How was the executive committee chosen? b) Will committee members be willing to make the compromises necessary?

Answer - a) The Executive Committee evolved in the following manner:

Credit for the idea goes to Doug LaFollette, WI Secretary of State, and Prof. David Pimentel, ecologist at Cornell U., was asked to join him as co-director, probably sometime in early 1996. When I found out about it in mid-1996, Mark Nowak was on the Team as well as Fred Meyerson, Yale University School of Forestry/Environmental Sciences who has been involved with Planned Parenthood and Union of Concerned Scientists. I discovered the Project by chance in my email networking, with immediate enthusiasm for finding what I had envisioned on my own as the perfect solution to what seemed to be a rather stagnant (at least slow-moving) population movement. Marilyn Hemple, Dir. of Population Coalition, joined the group in the fall, and I (Carole Wilmoth) was officially appointed as the representative of Audubon's Population & Habitat Campaign. by Pat Waak and Eric Draper in November 1996.
Sonny Fox, Senior VP, PCI (Population Communications International), came on board shortly after--he has great connections to the media and funding sources. Beth Thomas, fellow activist, who founded a Planned Parenthood Clinic in SC, and Jane deLung, Dir. of Population Resource Center, came to our first meeting last Feb. 1997 in D.C. and both were asked to be on the committee. Interest played a big part, but the main criteria was experience, capability and assets each could bring to the Team. Doug LaFollette and David Pimentel are now co-chairs since we plan to have a director at some point. Mark Nowak is presently inactive since he is working on a degree, but still keeps in close touch. We decided to limit it to nine because even with that small number, there are difficulties in reaching consensus, and in keeping in touch by phone and email.

b) Re: willingness to compromise - We have already experienced this within our committee in approving the planning document. We expect this will always be necessary, even in the larger context of the Plan. There, of course, is a limit, lest the whole concept be watered down to be useless to anyone.

Question 11. a) Where does funding originate? b) How will the project avoid being influenced by sponsors?

Answer - a) We received a grant of $2,000 from Audubon's Population and Habitat Campaign in early 1997. This helped fund a part-time grant writer. We also received a $1000 grant from The Planetary Trust, a small family foundation in Dallas, plus an additional gift of $100 from Colorado Population Coalition, one of our cosponsors. All income has been used for grant writing and other operating expenses. [Update 8-25-99]: Another $1000 was received in 1998 from an individual in Boulder, CO, friend of Prof. Bartlett's, and $50 from Virginia Schilz, population activist in Austin, TX.

Many months were spent on revising the Planning Document after the first meeting of the Executive Committee in Feb. 1997. A second meeting was held in February 1998, also in Washington D.C. The last revision of the Planning Document was October 1998.

David Pimentel has taken over the fund raising as Treasurer of the project. We are able to use Cornell University as the umbrella 501(c)(3) group to accept our donations. More funds are needed to continue our grant writing process.

We would urge cosponsors and other interested friends of USS3P to send donations to:

Prof. David Pimentel, Dept. of Entomology
Comstock Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Checks may be made out to "USS3P c/o Cornell U." Any amount would be gratefully appreciated. If anyone wants to contact Prof. Pimentel by phone or email, send an email to Carole Wilmoth.

b) If you mean funding sponsors, see answer to question 9. But, if you mean cosponsors, we hope to have helpful input which we are always willing to consider, if it will improve the project and it's chances of success.

Question 12. What is the relationship the U.S. Government will have with this policy?

Answer - See Planning Document Executive Summary: National Population Policy Implementation: "The project will engage in activities (identified during the previous process) designed to encourage adoption and implementation of a coherent, fair, national population policy, including a call for establishment of a national commission to formulate a population policy for the U.S. Strategies for generating broad-based support will be generated through cooperation with governmental and non-governmental entities and the media. Follow up activities, including the publication of two books, will also serve to educate the American public about the recommendations of the project, population-related issues, and the social, economic and environmental ramifications of population on both the national and international level."

Question 13. What monitoring will follow the publication of this policy?

Answer - [See Project Overview, Section E.] This is too long to quote here, but I think you will see that this is well-covered.

As you may imagine, there are a lot of details still to be worked out, and we need everyone's input and suggestions. However, I sincerely believe the structure of the Plan is very strong, and the fact that it is not a single conference, but an ongoing effort, makes it unique. USS3P is the only major initiative before us today and more than likely, there is not time for another before the end of this decade, which is a very critical time if we hope to stabilize the U.S. population.

Best wishes to you and your members,

Carole Wilmoth, Executive Committee
U.S. Sustainable Population Policy Project



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