Population, sustainability, and balance?

PositionFROM READERS - Letter to the editor

I'm interested in all the topics listed [in our recent survey], but halting human population growth, then reducing population, is of overriding importance. I would like to see Worldwatch Institute conduct research and make specific proposals on how governments, NGOs, and private citizens can work for negative population growth. Though time is short, we still have an opportunity to control our numbers using methods we choose. If we don't soon do so, Mother Nature will take control out of our hands.

On your letterhead I find the slogan "Vision for a Sustainable World." I am increasingly skeptical of the word "sustainable" and hope you will be judicious in your use of it. I'd like to see the term "sustainable development" banned from any serious proposals for addressing the world's problems. Development really means more growth and consumption. No sooner had the Brundtland Commission coined this expression than the world's corporate overlords began to spin it expertly to suit their own ends. The hoodwinked environmental community is given to believe the term means justice for the world's poor, and that easing their plight will, through the "demographic transition" (another dubious concept), bring about cessation of population growth and mitigation of the environmental devastation we humans have caused. Our corporate masters encourage us in these beliefs, all while implementing, under the guise of "sustainable development," their own agenda: more economic growth, more consumption, more consolidation of political and economic power into the hands of a wealthy few, and more population growth to fuel these projects.

A second concern is the magazine's creeping tendency to provide mainstream-media-style "balance." This spurious media "balance" is another of those niceties that nature really doesn't care about. In the face of the sixth great extinction, who needs "balance" in the discussion? Why waste precious magazine space--as you did in your population and peak oil issues--on skeptics, naysayers, and equivocators? If I feel a need for so-called balance, I can get it for free from the torrents of corporate advertising, and corporate-advertising-supported reporting, that is trumpeted at us from the mainstream media.

These criticisms aside, World Watch magazine remains my most trusted source for information and insight into national and world environmental issues. This is a very broad field of inquiry--almost all problems have an environmental...

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