Securing Sustainable Conservation, Population and Economic Reform

Securing sustainable conservation, population and economic reform. It’s time for us to visualize the future we desire. To get there, we’ll have to tackle these three significant issues together.

| December 2008/January 2009

Learn how sustainable conservation, population and economic reform will help to provide for us in the future.

Learn how sustainable conservation, population and economic reform will help to provide for us in the future.

Photo by Brian Welch

To build a better future, we need new economic systems securing sustainable conservation, population and economic reform, these systems must reward human innovation without requiring human expansion.

Securing Sustainable Conservation, Population and Economic Reform

It’s time for us to start visualizing the future we desire. What would a sustainable world look like, and how do we get there? One way to think about it is to consider that we have three tall mountains to climb.

Conservation is the first — if smallest — mountain. We need to forestall the effects of global warming as much as possible. Right now, we’re on the lower slopes of this first mountain.

The next climb will be longer and steeper — population control is perfectly unavoidable. We must choose to stabilize human population, or we’ll make more of a mess of our habitat and then nature will exert the control we abdicated.

To slow our rapid population growth won’t require Draconian measures. Consider what would happen if the international moral consensus were that each human being should reproduce himself or herself once — two children per couple? That’s all it would take for populations to begin slowly shrinking. It’s a simplistic solution, but the ultimate solutions are often the simplest. We’ll have to negotiate some difficult routes through political conflicts to reach the top of this mountain.

That leaves the third and tallest mountain, economic reform. As our economies are now structured, we depend on population growth to support economic growth. Imagine a world in which demand for all the fundamental human necessities — food, shelter, etc. — were shrinking every year. To sustain our population at lower, healthier levels, we’ll have to invent a human economy that can maintain prosperity without growth. To do that, we’ll need brand new economic tools.

geoffrey stone
8/7/2009 11:10:15 AM

I am interested in readng about an economic system that provides prosperity without growth. Can you direct me to resources on this subject? The the economic "Think Tanks" addressing this? If so, where have they published on this subject?

6/19/2009 7:14:39 AM

Those who balk at the idea of population control, claiming that it's not how many that live but the way they live that's adversely affecting our world is either overly optimistic or downright foolish. By sheer mathematics alone the Earth cannot sustain an infinite number of people. Say, just for example, we have a field that can produce a hundred ears of corn per day--no more, no less, and this field of corn is the only source of food for the village of one hundred people it serves. The field cannot be expanded without tearing into the local forest. So then each person gets one ear of corn per day. But if even just one person were added to the mix, that means some people will have to share their corn rations. Now everyone is a little hungrier. Add ten people and more people will have to share more corn. Sooner or later, the people will either starve to death, be forced to genetically modify the corn, be forced to cut down habitat, or be forced to overharvest wild resources, because how else will they find enough food to feed the burgeoning population? It's not about caring for the land; the land is giving all it can. And then where will they find homes for all these people? By either tearing down more habitat, or by depleting a large portion of resources in building taller, stronger houses. You can care for the earth as meticulously as you want, but there's still only so much it has to give! Then, don't forget the social aspects which are inevitable in such a situation--crime, disease, child death, and more. And for those of you who could scoff at such a "ridiculous example", take a look around you--it's happening every day in underdeveloped countries around the world; countries where population control is either unheard of or seen as abhorrent. Don't get me wrong; I don't use the word mathematics to imply that I am coldhearted. As a pagan I too highly value the sanctity of life--but not just human life; all life. It&#

keeping it real
4/1/2009 9:26:21 PM

Many people suggest population control as though it's such an easy thing with great results. Think about the reality of implementing that sort of law globally with full compliance: You have two children--now what? Either you or your partner has to get sterilized? You're 'mandated' to use birth control or else what? You go to jail or have to pay a fine? What if you/your partner accidentally get pregnant? You're 'required' to have an abortion? What happens if you want and have three children? Do you go to jail? Do you get fined -- how heavily? Does the third child get taken away? What if you live in the third world and you don't have access to abortion or birth control easily? The baby is born and you're required to kill it? Or you get fined? And if you can't pay the fine? Your house is taken away? You have to go to jail? With each scenario, in order to implement it effectively and in full compliance, there would be an abundance of control measures, laws, regulations, and steps required that doesn't sound all happy and free to me. In fact it sounds like regulations that might be dictated under a fascist or communist rule. If you believe in the idea that we supposedly live in 'the land of the free', those types of regulations sound anything but that.

leia paddleford
3/11/2009 6:13:42 PM

When I purchased my first copy of this magazine, at my local store, I was shocked when I read all the comments about population control in it. There were several very hard headed comments. To put it in a short easier to understand comment, It's Do or Die!. The earth will cleanse itself, if we do not do something! Our population is totally out of control and it will only take one major drought, flood, earthquake, etc. to lessen the food supply. This will cause war! Cruel and inhuman deaths will happen, they already are. Every year the land we farm produces less and less food, even though we dump more and more chemicals on it. And the idea that you expect God to provide you more, to act like a spoiled brat and always get what you want, sometimes parents tell their children no, right? I do not believe that forcing people to limit their reproduction will go over smoothly, as a last resort yes. Education should be step one. There are so many who do not yet realize how vast and current this problem is. This education should start with the 12-35 year old crowd right now. Honestly, the choices are reproduce less or allow more people to die later in life, either by natural means(not saving people at the hospitals or not finding cures,etc this sounds horrible to me, or war or famine. Those who choose to reproduce outside of an accepted limit should not receive any finacial benefit, why reward selfishness. And for those like the "octo mom" who claim that they thought it was a sign from God that they should have that many children, don't you think the sign was you couldn't have children to begin with! Don't get me wrong at some point we all need a little help, but that is completely unethical and very unsound judgement. Congrats to Mother Earth News for raising the issue and shedding light on a subject that should never have been in the dark! You have gained one new subscriber.

2/16/2009 10:32:05 PM

How can we ask for reproductive privacy when it concerns a woman's choice to have an abortion if we don't stand by that 'choice' for others concerning how many children they have? This is very much a constitutional freedom and if we expect to have our choice respected, then the RIGHT thing to do would be to tolerate others' choices. It's a big part of not being a hypocrite. It doesn't help to make enemies by telling others what they can and can't do in the land of the free!! What we SHOULD focus on is HOW our people live. If we would do away with chemicals in our food production, do away with major consumerism to landfillism, replace our use of fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, etc, etc, etc, we could accomplish a lot! I enjoy mother earth's articles for THOSE reasons, but if it's going to be politically charged against individuals' rights in the future, I'm afraid I'll have to find my information elsewhere!

2/16/2009 9:19:30 AM

From Mark Hall Pingree, Idaho Sooner or later, as unwanted of a debate it may be, we have to realize that we are living on an island. A large island, no doubt, but an island nonetheless. And you can believe whatever you want about God and his will for you etc, but that will never give you the right to take away another’s right to live in peace and harmony. I have heard it said that “if you have faith, God will provide.” Wake up stupid, God has already provided. He gave us a wonderful place to live in peace and harmony. If we continually screw it up, it is our fault for refusing to use logic, goodness, and the peace-making abilities that God gave us. So don’t exorcise stubbornness, selfishness, and stupidity then use God as your excuse for causing endless problems and suffering. Other than that, feel free to believe whatever you want!

2/16/2009 9:18:49 AM

From Mark Hall Pingree, Idaho After all, having a newborn on the island was something to celebrate and a sense of wonderment and nobody wanted to be the one to throw dirt on such a beautiful thing. But on the other hand, the older people were dealing with much stress as to who would give the ultimate sacrifice and no one wanted to volunteer. The bickering continued unabated and even increased to the point that the thought of a newborn on the island became a subject that was anything but delightful. One wistful morning, a much beloved older lady was found in her hut, she had hanged herself. A note was attached that said, “I couldn’t bear it any longer. Now there are enough resources, let the child be born and take my place and let God and man rest in peace this day.” The children and relatives of the kind lady went into a rampage and war broke out. Everybody blamed everybody else and many died. The war itself used up many resources and desolated parts of the island. Now there was only 25 people left alive on the island. They took accounting of the devastation and resources left and realized the island could now only support 50 people. The young couple who had been preparing for the new child were both among the counted dead including their lovely child and the unborn one also. The remaining people on the island wisely stopped fighting and took control of the situation and decided that hard decisions had to be made. It was decided, after much ugly and hurtful debate, that each couple would have only one child in the future regardless of religious or personal beliefs and therefore no one would have to die before their time. And that taking care of the persons already alive would take precedence over making new babies until food and resources were such that no one would have to die. And that whatever one’s belief about God, that did not give them the right to cause that another should suffer and die. (Continued next comment)

2/16/2009 9:16:59 AM

From Mark Hall Pingree, Idaho Regarding: Population control: Keep up the awesome magazine! About 20 years ago, when I was a member of a religion that espoused large families and no birth control, I had a friend that had 8 children. He was thinking about having another child. I mentioned to him that the world was already overcrowded and that at some point people were going to have to start thinking about reducing the number of children each couple on the planet could have. He was so insulted by this remark. He said that if he and his wife felt God wanted them to have another child that no one had a right to say anything about it. At that point, I told him a story about an island in the South Pacific. On that island there lived 100 people and that is all the island would support such that if when one person was born, one person must be chosen to die in order to make room for the newborn. The problem was that there was much conflict about how to choose who must die and who would choose the person to die. There was a young couple who had only one child and said it was their right before God to have another child and after all, no one has a right to challenge God or a person’s belief in God do they? There was much conflict, sadness, bad feelings, and general malcontent over the whole affair. There were religious accusations and persecutions and threats of war. (Continued next comment)

ken davis
2/15/2009 1:58:51 PM

It is very apparent that a large number of your readers and a greater number of the population live in the dark; are thus very ignorant of the picture outside of their little box worlds. Here are some facts to add to this discussion: Fact#1: It is well documented that all surface freshwater have some form of contamination that is man made and ground water resouces are being affected by this. One reference in my region among many: April 22, 2006, issue: The Florida Times Union "Ground water polution is addressed as primary concern on the st. Johns River. Fact#2: Those of us who read lots, know about Mercury levels reported in the fish we harvest from our oceans and water ways another contribution by mankind. Fact#3: We mankind have driven many species of animals that "God" created for us, into "extinction!" Those animals are gone FOREVER!!! Fact#4: Global warming is manmade and will effect us negatively. Fact#5: There are currently court battles going on now in our life time on Freshwater Rights! Florida, Alambama; Georgia is just one grouping of states in court. Lake Lanier in Georgia; Atlanta's primary water resource is 14' (fourteen feet)below normal, those heavy rains of last year didn't help a bit. Look at pictures on the web at the U.S. Drought Monitor website. Tennessee, North and South Carolina are another set of states with drought issues. I travel for a living and not only get to read just about everyones newspaper at some point, but see the drying lake beds like Lake Lanier first hand along with drought stricken farm lands across the country. Jan 25, 2009 Sunday edition the Atlanta Journal Constitution "Progress Has Only Come In Drips" Paragraph#4: The water crisis itself hasn't receded much at all, despite recent rain, Lake Lanier is down more than fourteen Feet. "We are reaching our sustainable limit of our small watershed." Jan 24, 2009 Jacksonville Florida Times U

2/11/2009 7:46:06 AM

Dear Mother Earth, Good luck on changing the economy here, as the leaders sit and spend ours and everyone elses trillions. As far as conserving, we can do our part, but money always gets in the way. I'm sure tires have been invented to never wear out and the animals that we consume are fed drugs and hormones to grow fat quicker, genetically modified foods are being sold to us, etc, etc, all for the money. These things we can fight against along with better ways to heat, cool, and fix the transportation problems. Population control can be done with doing away with congress first (just venting), but we need to slow down the infiltration of new people coming in from other countries. We love the diversity we have that makes us unique, but we have to get ahold of that situation. As far as controlling population, as in doing away with our families, we have enough people playing God, don't you think?? At the least 40,000,000 babies have been legally murdered since 1973. The earth groans for renewal. Our earth is being reserved by our creator, for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. God is patient toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a theif, and then the heavens will vanish with a thunderous crash, and the elements of the universe will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Then, and only then will we have a new earth! And yes, the population will be controlled. Best get ready for that. Until then, lets have nice gardens to share, safe homesteads, clean up the environment, and work on loving one another. :)

2/9/2009 1:42:47 PM

...things that could be done on land of different parcel sizes (say in 1/2 acre increments, from apartments patios up to 3 acres), etc. If we are good parents & train our young in many of the "old" ways, then all 3 of the Mountains Bryan Welsh sees, would be addressed and Conservation & Economic Reform would be taken care of by responsible citizens--our Children.

2/9/2009 1:41:27 PM

Coninued... ...Or saving money you've earned to buy something? Or that land and human life have a value beyond money? We have failed them & corrupted the very best of our natural resources--children--our future!! Is it really any wonder our planet is in a "world" of hurt? Come on, let's not try to take the sliver out of someone elses eye if we have a log in our own. Let's take a good long, hard look at ourselves & the example we are setting for the younger generations before we complain about how others live their lives because they believe in having multiple children, we need to BE SURE we are not part of a much bigger & costlier problem. Are we volunteering and making ourselves available to teach what we know? Are we helping those who strive to learn but don't have a lot of money? Do we love our knowledge enough to share it? I would love to continue my subscription, but will not if this kind of political rhetoric is being spouted as the norm. If you want to help the situation, keep to what you do best-teaching on how to use what one has wisely; being creative in how you do it & give great, encouraging stories of others who have. Maybe even put in a special section for City/Subdivision raised children to learn, sustainable, country living right where they are. Start where there is a gap, teach where you see there is a void of knowledge. I personally would LOVE to see a section on where to learn the how to's for children and teens. Something & someplace tangable & family friendly. Maybe how to get summer employment on a local farm; how to do organic gardening in containers; ways of composting; small animals & poultry how to raise and use them; small livestock and their many uses; volunteering; kitchen experiments on how to build light boxes or mini green/hot houses or use solar panels; things that could be done on land of different parcel sizes (say in 1/2 acre increments, from apartments patio

2/9/2009 1:37:18 PM

Mother Earth Staff, You have such wonderful articles and insight, it's unfortunate and saddening that you decided to go political and, IMO, overstepped your boundries on "population control"-after all Bryan Welch's and other staff members own mother's made the choice to give birth to each of them, did they not? Ironic that, from a child who was born, this portion of the article sounds like an add for Planned Parenthood. Instead of worrying about who's having how many children, we should be worrying about HOW we are raising & influencing any child (natural or adopted or family or neighbors or students)in our lives because having children is not the problem, teaching them well, is. What many in our nation, have lost is raising children to have a positive work ethic & live as responsible citizens. We have raised or influenced generations of consumers who believe that they are the center of everyones universe, essentially making them into their own god. They believe they deserve what they want, when they want it just because they breathe air. In addition to that, they expect their needs to be met by others in a way that is satisfactory to their personal whims. Yet they are not taught how or where things come from nor how to be responsible with what they already have. They are not taught the value of a penny found let alone the value of a dollar earned. And while recycling is all the rage, they are not taught how to reuse until the only option is the recycling plant (here is a great quote, I've learned, and try to live by, from the Great Depression, and previous, generations: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"). Where has teaching good work ethic, hard work, keeping ones word, self-esteem from a job done to the best of ones ability, striving, trying, failing and trying again, gone? Or getting paid for actually working? Or saving money you've earned to buy something? Or that land and human li

rick staples
2/7/2009 9:42:15 PM

Thank you for raising the critical issue of population stabilization. Simple math will demonstrate that at some point the human race will exceed the earth's capacity to feed it, and what Malthus called "positive controls" (war, famine, pestilence, etc.) will kick in. This fact is inescapable, and any debate on the topic is limited to the question of "when". For my part, I think we have already reached a point of overpopulation, as evidenced by climate change, species collapse, food and fuel supply instability, ad nauseum. I say we should begin to discourage population growth NOW, not wait until the Grand Canyon is filled with condos. Make no mistake, if the human race continues to expand, the day will come when the draconian measures that China has enacted will seem quaint and benign. Let us try to forestall that day by first establishing that having huge families is socially unacceptable. Let us stop fawning over some irresponsible fool who whelps a litter of 5, 6, or even 8 babies through artificial means. Let us establish that implanting more than 3 or 4 embryos at once, or assisting those who already have 3 or more children conceive, is unethical medicine. Then let us stop subsidizing huge families (with an exemption for adoption) by reforming the tax code. I would say a deduction for the first 2 children, then perhaps 1/2 deduction for the third, then no deduction. (Personally I would INCREASE taxes after 3 children, but that can wait a few decades until the crisis deepens, as it will!) If you consider this position selfish, so be it. My wife had two children from her previous marriage, and so I elected to be sterilized. I feel I have done my part, and I refuse to surrender any of my rights, freedoms, or the beauty of this world so some jerk can have a forth or fifth baby. Rick Staples

2/4/2009 9:10:53 AM

Just for clarification, I've never advocated any form of mandatory fertility control. But when people argue against the simple acknowledgement that the earth is a limited habitat that can only support so many human beings - and when people ignore the damage we've done already - does that mean they are opposed to the mere idea that we should consider limiting our own population voluntarily as part of our covenant of stewardship for the planet?

2/3/2009 8:55:05 PM

Peggy Sutton had some actual information there. Personally, I feel exactly as does Toni Guthrie. Starvation is not because of a shortage of food! If population control is mandated by the government, human rights must be tossed out the window. It will be the end of a free nation, free people, and the free practice of anything. Do you realize what kind of gruesome measures a government must take (and has taken) against its own people to enforce such things? Have you ever taken a close look at exactly which people groups are growing the fastest and which ones are disappearing?

2/2/2009 2:40:38 PM

It is not "population" control. It is "fertility" control. The bad news is that any reduction in fertility takes sixty years to show up in population demographics. This is why China's population is still growing. The other bad news is that we do not have sixty years before we have used up the last of the systems that support life. For example, oceans will be totally empty of any and all life by 2050. At today's rate of growth, US population will be one billion by 2075. How many people will have their own acre to homestead with that number. There has been plenty of warnings by a number of people. There is a lot of information available. Sincerely Kerry Lund Oklahoma City, OK

rebecca delong
2/2/2009 9:08:35 AM

I usually never comment on the letters sent in by readers. However, the one by Pearl Duval(March 2009 issue) changed my mind. Since when does being "religious" make you closed minded? I base my life on the teachings of the Bible. It gives me the basis for my work ethic and the way I treat those around me. It tells me to help those in need. It tells me to be kind to all of God's creation(that includes the animals the aid in our survival). It tells me how to treat the land on which I live. It gives me ethical guidelines(such as being honest, not stealing from others, etc.). It even talks about ways to control population growth. It tells me to be a good steward with what I have been given.I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Those of us who are truely "religious" will be the ones who will be going about our days taking as much care as we can with what God has given us. The words "religious" and "conservationist" should go hand in hand, not be the polar opposites of each other.

kathy w
2/1/2009 5:52:19 PM

Thank you so much for this article. We were concerned about overpopulation in the 60's and 70's. My husband and I chose not to have more than 2 children and I applaud the people who continue to make smart decisions concerning the welfare of our planet. We need to make the right decisions even if we have to sacrifice. We are all in this together!

joanne van der holt
1/31/2009 4:28:08 PM

Hurray for Mother Earth News! This 'hot button' in regards to population control needed to be pressed and I applaud you for pressing it! Some have commented that population control is: "dehumanizing'?, 'selfish"?, "if we limit the number of children we have, we thwart His plan."?, "insensitive, inhuman and ridiculous"? My question is, how can choosing to 'stabilize human population' by 'international moral consensus' be a bad thing for an ailing planet suffering from global warming, frightening climate change, diminishing clean water supplies and too many people? Humanity as a whole must choose to be proactive now so there is a healthy planet for our future generations. Humans/mankind, not the Almighty Heavenly Father, must do the work now. We cannot wait for word from on high. Nobody has stated yet how to go about promoting population control. Certainly, no one said anything about aborting an accidental third child. No one said anything about abortion as a means of population control (although, in some cultures that might seem the only option where a male child is preferable). The article said "We must choose to stabilize human population". This, to me does not say "kill unborn babies". This, to me, means birth control, as in the pill/condoms and then once you have your two children, continued birth control or if you choose, sterilization. This article spoke to me about choice. Choice for our planet and for the future of humanity. Again, MOTHER, I applaud you!

c corbridge
1/30/2009 9:29:41 PM

Having grown up in a family that took in foster children, I see an answer that will bridge both "sides of the fence" regarding the over-population issue: taking in foster children/adopting. Families that participate in this positive and responsible behavior are getting to enjoy their larger families while remaining supportive of our world. With so many children worldwide in need of families to nurture them, how can people be to selfish as to enlarge their gene pool without providing for those who need their help. I am willing to bet that 90%, or more, of those who defended their right to breed are neither foster- or adoptive parents! Before we demand our own way, let us see the ways to help one another, and truly improve ALL our lives.

sharon royle
1/30/2009 1:15:08 AM

Population control? Are you kidding? Are you aware that the European countries are dying out and that many countries now offer financial incentives to couples that have more than 1 child? Population control? Under whose control? China, with its 1 child policy, forced sterilization, and forced abortion, has one of the worse human rights violation records in human history. Pushing a geo-polictial agenda such as population control in this type of journal is going to lose a lot of your subscribers. Over-population is a myth. Greed, selfishness, and elitist racism along with ignorance perpetuate this myth.

1/29/2009 10:03:07 AM

I just wanted to thank you for your December editorial called Three Mountains. Looking at the responses on the web site and in the Jan/Feb issue are quite surprising. I thought everyone was aware that the world is overpopulated and polluted. Just look around at how dirty and abused most people in the world are, especially in industries located in third world countries. Birth control is a wonderful gift that lets a woman choose how many children a woman wishes to produce. Most women, if given the opportunity, would gladly take birth control. If you don't have control over your body, you don't have control over your own life. I find it frightening that so many fundamentalist religions (including various Christian and Muslim religions) are trying to outlaw birth control. As if giving a woman choice threatens their control over people's lives. Keep up the good work, people! I see from your archives that population control has been a subject since the magazine's inception. I see one letter from a woman in Wasilla who threatens to cancel her subscription from your candid discussion of population control as though somehow discussing it would harm her. Ridiculous! I will renew my subscription for the next 10 years. Your articles are that good!

meldy eich
1/28/2009 9:24:24 PM

all of the wars we have are fueled by population growth! people fight over the land mass everyone wanting their share of land to dwell on. but when overpopulation occurs humans become angry that they do not have enough room for their families. also energy consumption increases. more homes needed,more electricity,more food which causes farms to use more fertilizers ,fuel,herbicides,pesticides. erosion occurs when trees are over harvested. a good example would be haitee where the island is literly washing away because of deforestion. cities are growing into farm country. shopping malls cut into farmable land. we need to use common sense and have no more than two children per family. I cant believe that readers got angry because of common sense suggestions and research by mother earth!!! our earth is boiling over and we must act quickly before it is too late!

meldy eich
1/28/2009 9:16:22 PM

love mother earth

mary harvey_2
1/27/2009 5:42:31 PM

"Best laid plans" indeed. China has been in the forefront of population control since the 1970's with a one child per family mandate and a very aggressive birth control policy. A news article this week now shows the fruit of that policy: an aging population unsustainable by the current birth rate. The policy is also partially responsible for the disproportionate number of male births due to selective abortion of female fetuses; why waste your one shot on a girl? Is this where we want our country headed?

m. hancock
1/9/2009 9:27:01 PM

I have never read such unimaginative "solutions" for a sustainable world as in "Three Mountains We Must Climb" and quite frankly was staggered by your sincere lack of creativity, intelligence, and wisdom. It is clear that you have no true belief in humanity or an individuals innate right to make their own way in the world. Instead, you promote solutions that would chop individuals legs off at the knees and then "solve" their problems by issuing state wheelchairs to the formerly healthy people you have crippled. Your "simple" approach to population control is ever so reminiscent of the Nazi ideas and practices of eliminating the "feeble-minded" and instituting mandatory sterilization. And your solutions for economic reform show that you have no real bearing or understanding of what the words "socialism" or "communism" even mean, as your solutions are simply to re-name these social systems that have already proven to be failures. I enjoy your magazine immensely and it saddens me that I could work side by side with you in this community garden of life in which we are trying to "visualize the futures we desire" and bring active change for a better world only to discover that you were never a friend-but the worst kind of foe as you are clearly divided at your very core. Your signature of "Mother" is particularly ironic in that this article shows your true nature of a mother that would maim, cripple, or kill your own in order to continue controlling them. There are real solutions to be found and if we dare to think in new and creative ways and work together, we can solve them without controlling the people with politics.

1/8/2009 12:00:01 AM

Hi Author Thank you for such a awaking call through your writing. Majority of the population in in the developed country are mostly aware of the facts that you have tried to show in the article. And i guess they are already taking some direct or indirect measures to tackle this. But this not known to the people of Developing country who are mostly illiterate. And whose socio-cultural, and socio-economic, and socio-political structure in and around the country that has root from the society level it self make them even not to trust these kind of article so that their long cultivated value is not compromised. As far as the countries like in Asia is concerned where family planing is against their religion, And which is actually the root cause of rest of the two mountains, how article can reach these people and get in to their mind set making them to change overnight or in a certain time duration. Nevertheless, author has sparked the debate on the right issue at the same time it would be in the greater benefits of the human kind if the author also suggests the mechanism that a government can deploy to see this is happening. As i feel this is possible to make success not by the individuals' initiative but by the initiative of millions of individuals and to channelized this a government level initiative is must.

12/30/2008 12:24:37 AM

It's pretty clear some readers could benefit from more articles on this subject. Scientists agree the Earth cannot indefinitely support our current population of 6.7 billion people, especially as the less-developed nations catch up with the consumptive lifestyles of the developed world. I believe it is only economists and folks looking out the windows of airplanes who disagree with this. One needn't look too hard through the news to find the evidence that we do need to climb all three mountains. We've got fisheries collapsing, fertile topsoil declining rapidly, desertification, water shortages, climate disruption and mass extinction. Peak oil, peak water and peak food have come and gone. All the growth-boosters can offer is a hope and a prayer that we can perpetually increase our population and economic throughput if we just try harder to feed all those people! A special bravo for pointing out that our growth-obsessed economic system must be overhauled. Few are willing to facilitate open, honest dialogue about overpopulation. Fewer still are open to discussing the fact that our worship of economic growth in part drives our population growth, and is also responsible for killing our planet. Dave Gardner Producer/Director Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity

12/29/2008 7:47:13 PM

I have been encouraged by the comments regarding this article. Especially on the population control. What is happening the Mother Earth News? I am torn. I love the great ideas on homesteading, recipes, and simpler living. But some of the views being pushed are far from the middle. What happens if a couple gets pregnant a third time?!? Are they forced to abort? Paul~you are right. Adoption is a real need in our world. Couples who adopt are a blessing and blessed themselves. Let's not be so quick to judge those of us who have a "litter" of these precious littles though. Imagine! Some of us even have a passel of children and a number of them ARE adopted! Every one of them are a gift from the Lord! We need to focus on HOW we raise our children not the number.

12/16/2008 9:01:35 PM

Dear Mother, This is in reply to your article named “The Mountains we Must Climb.” You were right when you stated that the “population control is perfectly unavoidable.“ God knows exactly what he is doing and in His perfect Word, The Holy Bible it is His mandate that “and you ,be ye fruitful, and multiply. This is one area that we need not mess with . We have seen politically how this whole thing of planned parenthood has totally went against the Word of God. Also I would like to say that if anyone thinks that our land cannot sustain us in the near and far future , just take a plane ride across the country and look out the window and it will amaze you just as it amazed me at how much usable land there is available for food growing. The problem is not population related as much as it is that we as America is buying so much of our grains and such from foreign countries rather than growing them here. Lets get back to supporting are farmers and let them grow the crops we need. Mother Earth has a lot of great articles when it comes to living off the land, and I would be glad to keep subscribing to your magazine, but I will not if you are going to advocate the limitation of human life, an area that I think Mother Earth has over stepped her boundaries in. God has created this Land let Him decide how HE wants to populate it. Kelly

paul keelen
12/12/2008 12:45:08 PM

How many orphans are there in the world? – Some estimates put the number of orphans at 50 million while other estimates put the number as high as 200 million. Sadly the orphans are even abandoned by the statistics Well to all who stand on that soapbox and state religious reasons for having a litter of children perhaps we should look at the above numbers…. Let us take care of the abandoned through adoption before you put the “good Lord in front of your reasons for over populating the planet! Thanks, Paul (One happy adopted person!)

peggy sutton
12/10/2008 11:05:27 PM

I do think that conservation and working together to improve our economy are worthy goals, but I definitely disagree with Bryan Welch on the need to limit the population. Japan and Italy have drastically reduced their population growth and now they have a crisis with many old people and not enough younger working people to support the old people and provide them with medical care. China has drastically reduced its population and will have a disproportionate number of old people in the future, with the same concerns for support and medical care. A large working population has always been needed for economic growth. The United States has only escaped this problem of disproportionate numbers of old people because of immigration. We are already concerned about sustaining Social Security and Medicare in the near future; we too will have a crisis if immigration should slow. Also, I believe that the earth has enough food and shelter to sustain its people. We just need to do a better job of raising food, improving crop seed, teaching people effective methods of raising food, distributing food more equitably and helping people in developing countries to have sufficient food. One need only look at the example of Malawi in Africa, and its admirable improvement in raising enough food for its people due to donations of seed and fertilizer from developed countries and encouraging its people to farm sustainably. Finally, I as a Mormon and Christian believe that we are children of our Heavenly Father. He has many more children who are waiting to come to this earth and if we limit the number of children we have, we thwart His plan. The earth has enough for all as long as we share what we have with others and use our intelligence and technology to provide enough food and shelter for other people.

12/6/2008 8:10:26 PM

Am I to understand that Mother Earth News is in favor of limiting the number of babies brought into the world. That we have enough people on earth already. This sounds like communistic China. I don't know who is writing this particular piece or what they believe, but I am appalled and surprised. You are totally off base here and I have just found new fodder for my hamster cage.

laura t
12/3/2008 8:14:22 PM

I applaud Mother for introducing the concept of population control as a means of improving sustainability to its readers. The subject is a political hot button that most media and environmental outlets are obviously avoiding. Frankly I am disappointed in your readers who threaten subscription cancellation at the mere mention of the issue. Instead of a closed-minded reaction, lets bring on rational discussion. I'm looking forward to the future fact-based presentation of the issues. Thanks for going out on this unpopular limb.

toni guthrie_2
11/30/2008 2:33:25 AM

The claim that the world will be a better place if families are encouraged to only have two children is misplaced and offensive, particularly in a free society. While I think that overpopulation is a myth, at best it is a theory which should be debated and supported with evidence, rather than treated as a hard fact that will solve the world's problems. Being good stewards of our earth also means respecting the human life which abounds here.

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