HomeScienceEnvironmentGlobal population: numbers do matter | Population

Global population: numbers do matter | Population

“Don’t panic about Baby 8 Billion’s birth,” says Danny Dorling (Remark). Panic, no, but think better, yes. It’s good that Dorling focuses on consumption as a major driver of resource depletion and carbon pollution. But he is wrong to dismiss population growth as unimportant. Average consumption per person multiplied by a larger number of people gives you a larger result. This isn’t “snake oil for the math illiterate”, it’s math.

The uncertainty is behind the average consumption per person, and that is where inequality comes into play.

The other issue he ignores is the wishes of the people carrying the babies. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that half of all pregnancies in the world today are unplanned. Unplanned is not the same as unwanted, but more than half of these pregnancies end in abortion. Education and access to sexual and reproductive health services are crucial for women to take charge of their own bodies and their own lives.

Dorling is right not to panic about the aging population: this is something we can handle, with good will, humanity, migration and foresight. He is also right to celebrate the individuals with us now. But let’s not make it harder to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss by claiming numbers don’t matter.
Rosalind Dean
Sheffield

Bring back the Lords reform bill

Why reinvent the wheel? Why start all over again, as Keir Starmer seems to suggest (“Starmer ‘will abolish Lords to restore confidence in politics’The Coalition Government’s Lords Reform Bill received a record 338 majority at second reading in July 2012, backed by a substantial majority of MPs across all parties.

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However, progress on the bill was stalled in 2012 by an unholy alliance between the Labor leadership and Conservative reactionary rebels. Without these silly parlor games, by 2022 we would have had a Senate with democratic legitimacy, representing the nations and regions of the UK. Starmer is apparently in favor of even more “consultation”. This looks like even more delaying tactics.

As an active participant in all interparty consensus building over the past two decades, I suggest that it would be more appropriate to resubmit the 2012 bill for detailed parliamentary scrutiny. Deciding instead of postponing is more likely to restore confidence in politics.
Paul TylerLiberal Democrat Spokesman for Political and Constitutional Reform 2005-2021
Sheepscomb, Stroud

Give Camilla a break

I fail to see that what Camilla chooses to do with her private life, what practices she chooses to adopt, what she believes in has anything to do with anyone else (“Indian gurus and holistic therapies: so much for ‘down to earth’ Camilla“, Comment). I certainly don’t think they should become the center of criticism or debate. In years past, Charles has been criticized for his “holistic” beliefs and organic ideas, most of which are now mainstream, and anyone with any awareness puts committed to ecological ideals Leave Camilla alone!
Kate King
Tiddington, Stratford upon Avon

Selfish? Not this retiree

In saying “the latest announcements, annoying as they are for every section of the electorate bar retirees…”, Isabel Hardman lumps all retirees together (“This gloomy silence among MPs speaks volumes. They are reconciled to defeat“, Comment). Many retirees look beyond petty financial self-interest and care about vital issues such as climate change, workers’ wages and health care. We wish this appalling government were as absent as any other part of society.
Jane Gifford
Tantobie, Stanley, Co Durham

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The moth juste

Your report on attempts to bring back dialect words that have fallen out of everyday use reminded me of a dispute when I was a young sub-editor at the login Newcastle upon Tyne (“From blatherskite to yew, the battle is on to save Britain’s endangered wordsThe senior sub-editor, a Londoner, tried to dismiss a headline on a report of an inquest written by a Geordie sub-editor: “Spell killed man in lumber yard.” The chief petty officer crumpled the headline and threw it over the table with the words, “Spell? You can’t use that — it’s not a word in the English language.” The night editor heard it and yelled, “Leave it alone, Mr. Cotsford, everyone in our circulation area from Berwick-on-Tweed to Stockton-on-Tees will know it’s a splinter. But splinter with a capital S won’t fit in 24 points over a single column.
Peter Crookston
London W11

Overloaded Cambridge

Why would the Greater Cambridge Partnership, of which I chair, consider a congestion charge during a cost-of-living crisis in the UK’s most unequal city (“Two wheels good… city v toga divide over cambridge car load“, News)? We want to give people on low incomes more opportunities to work and get an education. The £5 daily levy wouldn’t come in for five years, and not until alternatives are put in place. The work to get that alternative options would start around this time next year.

We are already seeing congestion returning to pre-pandemic levels and, with further growth, expect an additional 20,000 daily car journeys if we do nothing. We are impacted by a fragile bus network where services are stopped at short notice because operators are unable to operate them on a commercial basis. The prospects are not good, with all the consequences for the environment and quality of life in a city stifled by transport poverty.

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The main driver behind our support for the proposals is that they would allow us to take bus transport in the region away from private operators and return it to local government ownership and control, where we believe it belongs.

So this is not about city v dress. It is about the future of public transport, eradicating transport poverty and making the opportunities of our region available to everyone.
Elisa Meschini
Cambridge

Internet 0, Biro 1

We are at least 15 years into the smartphone era and most people can handle the technology. Can I therefore have the Observer for the World Cup 2022 wall map. Ten games in and all statistics are within reach, but manually filling in the match results with my humble Biro gives me a ridiculous kick.
David Newton
Alness, Ross and Cromarty

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