Having read the newspaper accounts of the recently held conference of leaders of seven of the world's leading industrial nations, I was pleased to find that they are recognizing global warming, deforestation, acid rain and the destruction of the ozone layer as serious threats to the survival of life forms on this planet, including human life. However, I was very disappointed to find no mention of the problem that has been pointed out by many scientists as the basic cause of the four threats on which the conference focused. That basic cause is, of course, the frequently ignored population explosion.
It seems evident that with fewer people on our planet the greenhouse effect would be reversed, since the daily discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would be less; there would be decreased motivation for destroying our fast-disappearing forests; acid rain would be diminished as a result of a reduction in industrial air pollution; and the release rate of the various chemicals responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer might attain a tolerable level.
At the present rate of growth, the Earth's population can expect to double in the next 40 years. Can the secondary problems be solved without facing up to the basic one? Which is more important, money or the welfare of our grandchildren?