Overpopulation's toll on the planet

May 10, 2010

Chris Bolgiano is to be commended for emphasizing that choosing to not have children is not only a meaningful life option but also contributes to curbing the world's population problem ("To be — or not to be — a mother," May 9).

But her remark that "the birthrate in America is historically low" leaves the impression the U.S. does not have a population problem.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only are we the third most populous nation in the world (behind China and India) but our numbers are projected to grow from our present 309 million to over 400 million by the year 2050. That's a whopping one-third increase in just 40 years.

We don't talk about this problem because the projected increase is largely driven by immigration, and it is not politically correct to question the fertility rates of immigrants, especially when they are people of color.

What Ms. Bolgiano overlooks in her insistence that the earth's population problem has more to do with our profligate consumption than with the "black and brown babies of the developing world" is that people who come here do so because they wish to adopt the same habits of consumption she decries. And even if we were to curb our levels of consumption, the reduced demands we put upon the environment would be negated by the addition of another 100 million people to our population.

The fact remains that overpopulation and overconsumption are both responsible for our planet's fragile state, and both must be addressed if we're to have any chance for a decent future.

Howard Bluth, Baltimore

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