Population Growth – Letter to the NYT by Philip Warburg

To the Editor:“Fixing a Major Piece of the Climate Puzzle” (news article, July 14) identifies a major and growing contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions: the use of hydrofluorocarbons in air-conditioning. But the solution isn’t simply to switch to a refrigerant less damaging to our environment.

Durwood Zaelke of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development is briefly quoted referring to population growth as one of the factors leading us to greater reliance on air-conditioning and, more broadly, to accelerated global warming. He’s right. Population growth will have a big effect on our global environment, yet we seldom face that issue head-on.The United Nations has just updated its “World Population Prospects,” and the numbers are stunning. Under a slow-growth scenario, we will have 9.6 billion people on this planet by 2100. On the high end, there will be 13.2 billion of us — a 76 percent increase above today’s 7.5 billion.

It’s time to get serious about encouraging policies at home and abroad that stand a chance of steering us toward the lower end of those United Nations projections. Family planning, birth control and voluntary abortion aren’t dirty words; they’re keys to our environmental survival.”

PHILIP WARBURG, NEWTON, MASS.The writer is a nonresident senior fellow at Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy.