Readers React: Overpopulation is killing the planet. Bring on the ‘population bust’ and lower economic growth

A busy sidewalk in New York City in 2003.
(Gregory Bull / AP)

To the editor: Darrell Bricker and John Ibbetson state that the United Nations Population Division’s prediction of 11.2 billion people at the end of this century would trigger a crisis that would lead to famine, war and environmental devastation. They counter this dire prediction with data that suggest the global population will stabilize between 8 and 9 billion by 2050 and then start to decline.

They seem to believe that the real problem will be how the U.S. and other countries can find a way to replace their missing babies in order to sustain economic growth.

The current world population of more than 7 billion has already led to environmental devastation, famines and wars. By focusing on consumption, the authors ignore the additional resources necessary to support 2 billion more people and how obtaining those resources will affect the quality of the air, water and land necessary for all life on our planet.

Consumption is not the only meaningful measure of an economy. If a downward fertility trend is truly the future of the world, then won’t the countries that can transition first to an economic model that doesn’t require population growth be better situated?


Kim Lewis, Manhattan Beach


To the editor: Between polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs and the U.N. Population Division, I trust the United Nations, which predicts that 11.2 billion people will burden the Earth at the end of the century, almost 4 billion more than we have today.

Bricker and Ibbitson say that this would trigger an overpopulation crisis that could lead to famine, war and environmental devastation. What exactly do we have now?


Ipsos interviewed a bunch of people who want smaller families. Saying and doing are two different things, especially with a worldwide shortage of family planning commodities among the poorest of the poor, and with the influence of pernicious religious beliefs and general machismo everywhere.

I myself have a vision of perhaps 4 billion educated, healthy, happy people making their own choices on an Earth in balance with nature.

Jane Roberts, Redlands

The writer is founder of the group 34 Million Friends of the United Nations Population Fund.

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