Letter to the Editor: Population size takes toll on Earth

Your lead article last week about “footprints” we all leave (“Cleaning & Greening”, The Rider News, 10/12/07) was excellent in that you are helping make people more aware of the irreversible damage we are inflicting upon our fragile planet. All examples you cited of ways to reduce CO2 emissions were very good and it is highly commendable that Rider is making this effort to help reduce global warming.

However, your front page photo was a somewhat misleading example of our approach to the task. Raking one’s garbage downstream would have no impact on reducing an environmental footprint, and I am not sure that was the intent of the activity shown. In any case, it is highly doubtful these efforts alone will have any meaningful, long-term impact on global warming.

The real problem causing the creation of footprints and global warming is not CO2 emissions, which are one of the symptoms, but rather overpopulation. With about 6.5 billion people on earth today and the forecast of 9 billion by the year 2050, the world will be a very sad place with rampant starvation, overcrowding and no doubt, war on the fringes of every cross-cultural border.

Call me a Malthusian if you wish, but at this point it is not a label I am ashamed to bear. Thomas Robert Malthus’ 1800 theory that population will increase beyond its means of support unless controlled by restraint, disease, famine, war or other disaster is fast becoming a reality.

Worldwide, we must find a way to stop procreation at the current level. China has the right idea. It may not be a pleasant solution to all, but one-child families are the answer to the inevitable destruction of our own planet, at least until the population is reduced gradually to what it was in 1960, around 3 billion inhabitants. Meanwhile, well-intentioned efforts at reducing our CO2 emissions without population control will not make a significant long-term dent in the problem and its ultimate consequences.

— Ralph Gallay, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Marketing

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