Letters to the Editor, June 2020

Published: June 1, 2020

I know I am “preaching to the choir,” but I just read a disturbing article in Scientific American* relating the emergence of the virus responsible for COVID-19 to habitat destruction. I felt compelled to share this with someone who might understand, and who other than your organization.

What was almost as disturbing as reading of the nearly inevitable prospect of more of the same happening was the absolute absence of any mention of the underlying cause of habitat destruction, which as we all know, is human population increase.

Gordon Johnson

Just read the moving story in the March 2020 issue on the Nepali visiting service providers—they are truly heroes on the front lines. Then saw the graphic that to meet all unmet family planning needs in Nepal would require an extra $15 million—are you kidding me?? With the U.S. budget in the trillions, this is pocket change.

I have always been dumbfounded at our misplaced priorities in this world: Hell, for only the cost of a couple of stealth bombers, we could easily pay the yearly unmet need for family planning/women’s health throughout the WORLD.

Andy Stump

Great example in Nepal. Important work and results. Would love to see these declines in births across the globe especially embraced in developed world countries that are driving the majority of environmental devastation. Keep up the great work.

Terry Spahr

The following is a letter that one of our members submitted to the editor of The New York Times. It was not published, so we are sharing it here, lightly edited for clarity and length. Please let us know whenever you submit letters to the editors of newspapers on population issues—we’d love to read them!

–Marian Starkey (editor)

Re: “Even Before Coronavirus, America’s Population Was Growing at Slowest Rate Since 1919,” The New York Times, March 26, 2020

The tone of Sabrina Tavernise’s report on slowing U.S. population growth was thoroughly gloomy. But slow growth should be cause for celebration. It’s true that at the reported annual growth rate of 0.48 percent, America’s population will not double until the year 2165, but is Ms. Tavernise impatient for that milestone?

Why has longterm sustainability—through protection from population pressures on clean water and air, wild land, parkland, and many other resources—stopped being a progressive pursuit?

Certainly, old people will need caregivers, but since good health lasts longer now, the simple solution would be to index retirement age to longevity. To depend on continual population growth to staff our care facilities—or to keep any other businesses healthy, for that matter—is a Ponzi scheme.

George Ainslie, MD

*   The Scientific American article to which Mr. Johnson refers, “Destroyed Habitat Creates the Perfect Conditions for Coronavirus to Emerge,” was originally published by Ensia (with the title “Destruction of Habitat and Loss of Biodiversity Are Creating the Perfect Conditions for Diseases Like COVID-19 to Emerge”). We have reprinted the article in this issue of the magazine; it begins on page 10.