Letters to the Editor, June 2024

Published: June 10, 2024

Population growth exacerbates every significant problem in the world. It leads to millions of people who have little and need more, which causes resentment and a desire for revenge. It creates children who starve to death after a brief view of life. It has made you and me insignificant commodity items, our identities lost in a sea of 8 billion — a world too full of humans.

Population growth is devouring our resources and our environment. If there is to be a future for life on Earth, the coupled problems of overpopulation and insatiable economic growth must end. It is unreasonable to assume that growth can continue forever, domestically or internationally, without dire consequences for the planet and its life forms.

I have lived for 91 years and remember small neighborhood store owners who knew your name and needs and provided quality products. They valued their customers and worked hard to keep them. I have no idea what changes will occur in the next 91 years. I do know that I won’t be here to witness them. But if corporate control and mindless growth continue, I’d rather be pushing up daisies.

John Lynn

I’m not alone, I’m sure, as someone who supports other environmental organizations, including those devoted to the conservation of wildlife (in all its varied forms), as well as Population Connection. It’s surprising and confounding, then, to see the disconnect that exists between the goals and aspirations of these organizations and the realization that they cannot reasonably expect to achieve, say, the restoration of tigers in India, or gorillas in Africa, without being a fierce advocate for the very same goals and aspirations that Population Connection works so hard to accomplish.

You simply cannot achieve the conservation and protection of endangered species without also talking about how rampant human population growth stymies and defeats those goals. It is folly to think that you can protect diminishing fish stocks in the ocean and shrinking populations of iconic (and other) species around the world without a meaningful focus on the role that the expanding human population has on those otherwise fraught and fragile species.

My guess is that the very idea of raising the question of family planning as an integral element to achieving their mission is an uncomfortable and sensitive topic that leaves them vulnerable to cheap accusations of interference with sovereign policies regarding family planning and the like. If that is the case, they will never get to where they want to go, as most of us here know. Environmental organizations should have the courage of their convictions, if not the chutzpah, to say what needs to be said: Rampant population growth is detrimental to the conservation of other species, and addressing that uncomfortable topic should be a key platform in their mission statements and action plans.

James E. Close

Is it not wonderful that people are waking up from the decades of cultural expectations that are keeping and have kept so many women in numerous forms of slavery? A one-time sum of money is not going to eradicate 20–30 years of childrearing responsibilities that primarily fall on women. Just look at the divorce rates that generally make women’s lives even harder because of lack of personal and financial support. I often shared with my friends that if l had to do it all over again, l would not have any children because single motherhood is in most cases too stressful for too long. Rather than panicking over the decrease of humans in some countries, let us make use of the various robots and AI to assist people in ways to not only support them comfortably but also save Mother Earth.

M. Spear

Thank you for the outstanding interview with Dr. Jane O’Sullivan that unraveled many of the population myths. I especially appreciated her clear and direct summary of the potential benefits of a stable or declining population towards the end of the article that encapsulated many of the economic advantages presented in the previous issue.

The article made me think of several topics that I would love to see in future issues. One is the relationship between wars and overpopulation. Wars are often connected to competition for resources to supply growing populations. History is jam packed with examples.

Stable or declining populations offer an opportunity for greater national security, as available land and resources more closely match needs. That’s why stabilizing population should be a national security priority for all countries.

Another topic is the “technological fix,” the idea that there will always be technological solutions for accommodating a growing population. Examples include the idea that we can keep on emitting CO2 if we just figure out how to capture enough carbon and inject it into the Earth. Or desalinating the ocean to get fresh water. Or that we can pave over our farmland because we’ll just grow food in hydroponic high-rises. Or that getting everyone into electric vehicles will result in zero emissions, even though vast resources will be required to make all these vehicles and huge additions to new clean power sources will be needed to charge them. The truth is that these “fixes” just postpone the day of reckoning, and ultimately make the problem bigger, if population growth is not also addressed.

Eben Fodor

I just got around to reading your March magazine, and I really did enjoy the article about all the places in the world with a declining population and economic issues that are often associated with population decline. I am a firm believer, like you, that we have finite resources and must reduce our population, but how we do that and maintain our economies is an interesting question.

Rosie Heil

I have spent some time during the last few days reading your March magazine from cover to cover. I am impressed at the efforts that have been made by various governments to encourage couples to have more children. I am also impressed at the stupidity of the leaders who have pushed these pronatalist policies.

Rev. Dr. Carol A. Taylor

I would like to suggest that researchers looking into childbearing decisions ask people *why* they are uninterested in having children, beyond economic reasons.

1) In Western economies: From what I hear from Millennials and Gen Z, their awareness of the huge problems faced by humanity, from wars to global warming to pollution to pandemics, makes them wary of bringing children into this mess. Childbearing has become a moral dilemma.

2) In Eastern economies
(e.g. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China): Women are right to revolt. Are they supposed to continue taking it on the chin? Have a career, take care of everyone (husband, kids, in-laws), and have no time for themselves, after all their effort to receive an education? I wouldn’t.


I thoroughly enjoyed the March President’s Note on Cahokia. We visited there a few years ago and were very impressed with the museum, the grounds, and the great view of downtown St. Louis.

I also loved the article on Norton and Irene Starr. They are superstars — so kind and giving.

I want to say that I’m glad that Kamala Harris has stepped up to challenge those who are against Roe v. Wade. It’s been two years of confusion and fighting. Women just want to have the right to do what they want with their bodies so that they will have some control of their future.

Thank you again. Although not continuously, I have been a member of ZPG and Population Connection since my college days in the ’70s.

Terre Topp

When the new Population Connection shows up, it’s a call for rejoicing. Of course, I pass this beautiful magazine around to my colleagues.

Douglas Gunderson

There were about one-third as many people on this planet when I was born 76 years ago as there are now, and it shows.

When I went through the doctoral program in Geography at UC Berkeley in the ’90s, population was almost never mentioned as the root cause of so many other problems. I was an environmental journalist for 20 years in San Francisco and wrote two books about my experiences and apprehensions about what we have done and continue to do. I founded the Living New Deal in the early 21st century to save my mental health.

Gray Brechin, PhD