Ideal population

Ian Maxfield (Letters, 20 June) asks a few simply answered questions about over-population. How many children per couple? Answer: two. This number will replace the parents. Given that many people have no children, the world’s population will gradually shrink.

How old should people get? Answer: let nature take its course. After the Biblical three-score years and ten then abuse-free assisted dying should be legally available to those who so wish it.

How would population control be administered and paid for? Answer: self-administered, with no taxpayer support for the third or more child.

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What is the ideal size of population?

Answer: one which has a healthy age profile; and one which is and remains small enough as to enable its nation to be self reliant in matters of food, energy, services and wealth creation/distribution.

Maxwell’s remaining questions about reproductive technology, surrogacy, sterilisation and abortion are important in themselves but are marginal if it is agreed that problems such as global warming, wars, mass migration and pandemics are largely a consequence of too many people chasing too few resources.

At some point Malthus will be proved correct. I don’t want me or mine, or you and yours, to be around when that awful day 
arrives, so let’s pre-empt it.

Tim Flinn


East Lothian

Ian Maxfield’s irresponsible letter denying the danger of overpopulation is as scare-mongering as some of the Malthusians of yesteryear, whose doom-laden prophecies proved premature (though may yet happen).

Most countries, including our own, have “skewed gender 
ratios” (a slight excess of females), for varied reasons. So what? That some countries have achieved fertility rates below replacement level is cause for rejoicing. If only all achieved this.

Maxfield fears an ageing population, so raise retirement age.

That it is developed countries with emancipated women which have low fertility shows how to control population: end poverty and support women’s rights. None of Maxfield’s spectres is anything to be afraid of.

But a soaring population that is consuming this planet’s finite mineral resources, destroying its forests, depleting its fish stocks, polluting its environment and changing its climate is something to be terrified of.

And the fact that it is the 1.2 billion living in developed societies who are responsible for most of this destruction suggests an upper limit to Maxfield’s final question.

Stephen Moreton

Great Sankey

Warrington, Cheshire