We can­not reg­u­late hu­man self­ish­ness

The Guardian Weekly - - Opinion -

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

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