Letters to the Editor, March 2020

Published: March 2, 2020

Your June and December issues, emphasizing the connection between population levels and climate change, were brave and impressive. You are setting a fine example, not followed, alas, by many environmental NGOs, which still seem intimidated by the taboos surrounding population questions. All their great work to save species and habitat is threatened.

Congratulations on your work establishing the population/environment connection.

Merloyd Lawrence

Thank you for helping connect the big dots between population growth and climate change. I am saddened but unsurprised you could find only three topical articles to reprint; as the articles note, the topic is sensitive. Some sensitivities come honestly from religious beliefs, or from the horrific history we all must remember and resist ever repeating: eugenics, Nazis, and sterilization abuse of African Americans. But these historical realities are also daily manipulated to whip up outrage by activists from the alt-right to mainstream anti-abortion conservatives to some on the left who have been misled into opposing Planned Parenthood, for instance, due to deliberate distortion of Margaret Sanger’s historical record (ironically, often distortions funded and spread by the alt-right).

When responsible advocates of access to voluntary family planning are silenced by distorted references to history, we all suffer. Dorothy Roberts—who wrote brilliantly in 1997 on America’s history of eugenics in Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty—points out that today’s abortion bans are similar to 20th-century eugenics laws: “[B]oth seek to control reproductive decision making for repressive political ends. Thus, if you oppose eugenic birth control, you should also oppose abortion bans as forms of reproductive oppression.”

And as Sebastien Malo’s article (“Fewer children, fewer climate risks? Niger ponders a controversial option”) highlights, the communities hurt worst by lack of family planning access are also often those least protected from climate change and other consequences of population growth.

Kudos to Population Connection for walking this sensitive ground with a sensible and informative special issue!

Rebecca Weiner

Thank you for the article “Good Women.” I appreciated this in-depth profile of a very troubling situation and the solutions that are starting to make a difference.”

Brendan Miller

I heartily endorse and appreciate your efforts at educating the public on the dangers of unsustainable human population expansion. However, you are missing one very key element: the unsustainable philosophy of perpetual financial expansion that goes hand-in-hand with population increase. More people, more customers. It’s as simple as that.

We cannot continue to deal with real physical limitations in terms of a non-physical value system. We must adopt an economy that is in sync with the real world. The monetary profit system must go, in favor of a more responsible and equitable economy.

Stephen L. Doll