We cannot regulate human selfishness
Your letter on climate change (21 December), intelligent as it is, has it backwards. The “profoundly negative effect on forest and woodland” the writer warns of won’t be the result of an increase of 4 billion mouths. The planet will be two or three degrees hotter by the middle of this century, coasts and even whole countries will be underwater, agriculture impossible, potable water scarce and those trees, bushes and all the life they contained dead. Thirst and starvation, migration and war will cause the deaths of many, if not most, of us human beings and whatever fauna, flora and invertebrates we haven’t already exterminated. It is we who will control our population. Or not.
Some delegates at the Poland climate conference knew this, and many others would have objected to politics interfering with our Godgiven right to propagate. No different, really, from our right to be greedy, selfish, careless and destructive, none of which can be tamed or regulated. Bryna Hellmann Amsterdam, The Netherlands
• I can understand the idea that population growth seems to be a taboo topic. Although increased household incomes and wider access to education often result in lower birthrates, these are not the key issues. What is never discussed is that millions of women across the world have no power over their reproduction or their sexual activity. They do not have the right to say “no”.
This is a deeply rooted cultural issue, but women’s empowerment is fundamental to our survival. Neither sustainable development goals nor stemming climate change will be achieved until all women have freedom to make their own reproductive decisions. I fear this will take more than the 12 years we have left to slow climate breakdown. Trish Nicholson Northland, New Zealand