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Overpopulation is killing the world's biodiversity

To the editor: Your editorial highlights a critical issue that's frequently left out of the conversation: We can't effectively tackle climate change without looking at our runaway population growth and overconsumption. And it's not just the climate that's suffering from infinite growth on our finite planet. ("Why we need to address population growth's effects on global warming," Editorial, Jan. 25)

As human population has skyrocketed, so has the rate of wildlife extinction. Species are going extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate, largely driven by the demands for food, water, land and energy of a population that's doubled in the past 50 years. Our environmentally devastating hunger for meat and fossil fuels has worsened the problem. In short, we're crowding out the planet's biodiversity.

Unfortunately, conversations about population are often shut down before they even have a chance to begin. We can't continue to stay silent about the impact of our sheer numbers. And we shouldn't have to, when the solutions are increasing education for girls, guaranteeing safe access to reproductive healthcare, advancing human rights and equality, and choosing more sustainable lifestyles that are healthier for people, wildlife and the planet.

Stephanie Feldstein, Tucson, Ariz.

The writer is population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

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To the editor: Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing up the most important issue facing us and the Earth: overpopulation. It has become taboo for the news media to discuss this most critical issue.

We are using up the planet's natural resources at unsustainable rates. My field of expertise is water, and all across the United States and Asia we are mining groundwater at rates that in a few decades will result in major famines due to reduced agricultural production.

Please keep attention on this critical problem. If we don't deal with it, war and famine will.

Larry McReynolds, La Crescenta

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To the editor: I have been saying this for 30 years. Earth's resources are not infinite.

I used to be a "ZPG" advocate (zero population growth). That meant one person born to replace one person who dies. But for the past 10 years (maybe longer), I have been an "NPG" advocate (negative population growth).

If humans want to remain on this planet and enjoy its bounty, we must start respecting the Earth and quit polluting it with the worst offender: people.

Barbara Schiffler, Encinitas, Calif.

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To the editor: Reducing America's population would indeed minimize our overuse of global resources such as fossil fuels (and could also preserve our own critical resources, including water). But reducing birth rates will not suffice.

Americans ended the baby boom a half century ago and already have small families, similar to countries with shrinking populations. America grows because Washington allows ever more immigration.

Shrinking the U.S. population requires reducing immigration to the historical level. I hope the media explore this option, which could refocus the politicians' one-sided immigration "debate," which considers only immigration increases.

Kenneth Pasternack, Santa Barbara

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