The Upside of a Population Decline

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  • Giuliani’s Drinking Problem
  • My Book Was Almost Banned
  • Require Masks in Hospitals
  • Magic at the Wedding

All of the Predictions Agree on One Thing: Humanity Peaks Soon

Most people now live in countries where two or fewer children are born for every two adults.

To the Editor:

Re “The World’s Population May Peak in Your Lifetime,” by Dean Spears (Sunday Opinion, Sept. 24):

Dr. Spears warns that, more than 60 years hence, the global population will peak at 10 billion and then drop to a mere eight billion (roughly our population today) by 2100. He worries about “tens of billions of lives not lived over the next few centuries — many lives that could have been wonderful for the people who would have lived them.”

In a world where our natural resources are already strained to the max, this is rank sentimentality.

Year after year, we wring our hands about climate change, yet continue to drive up energy use and resource extraction to meet our ever-growing hunger for greater comfort and diversion.

Along with taming our resource gluttony now, a retreat from population growth will be the best thing that could happen to our ravaged planet.

Philip Warburg
Newton, Mass.
The writer is the author of two books on renewable energy and former president of the Conservation Law Foundation.

To the Editor:

When I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on our nearby freeway, at a time of day when not too long ago there was rarely any traffic at all, I am hard-pressed to feel much concern about the dangers of a declining population. While there are certainly dangers inherent in a decline that occurs too rapidly or too steeply, we needn’t worry about this.

First, as the article itself points out, the pace of any projected depopulation will be very slow. Slow enough for us to adapt and adjust.

Second, I believe we should welcome some measured decline, not fear it. The world population in 1960 was only three billion (compared with eight billion today). I don’t recall that people were concerned about too few people on the planet back then. Quite the opposite: “The Population Bomb”would become a best-selling book later in the decade.

Finally, the article appears to assume that halting a population decline would result in a relatively stable population size without any problematic growth. That seems naïve. More likely, the pendulum would swing to the other extreme and we would again experience the unsustainable population increases that have been our primary fear until now.

Ted Landau
El Cerrito, Calif.

To the Editor:

We should not ignore the many positives of a declining human population.

Fewer humans means less pollution, less carbon, less climate change and less impact on other species.

Fewer humans means more living space, more wilderness, cleaner oceans, greater sustainability, healthier families and more opportunities per child.

We should celebrate all parents who choose to have two or fewer children. Their legacy is a better future for everyone.

Justifying increased human population in the name of economic growth is a G.D.P. pyramid scheme that leads to an ever less livable planet.

Kevin Curtis
Cazenovia, N.Y.

Giuliani’s Drinking Problem

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s drinking was long whispered about by former City Hall aides, White House advisers and political socialites. Now it has become a factor in one of the federal cases against former President Donald J. Trump. Credit…Erin Schaff for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Giuliani’s Drinking Is Subplot in Trump Inquiry” (front page, Oct. 5):

People with a drinking problem lose things. They lose jobs, relationships, money, properties, belongings, reputations, self-respect and the respect of others.

That nobody intervened forcefully enough in Rudolph Giuliani’s case is sad. But there are people who lose everything and that’s still not enough of a wake-up call. So who knows if any interventions would have helped this guy.

Intoxication is not an excuse for all the harm that Mr. Giuliani has perpetrated on the American public. There needs to be severe, felt consequences. But, really, nothing the legal system can do will be harsher than what Mr. Giuliani has done to himself.

Kathryn Janus

My Book Was Almost Banned

Credit…Joe Raedle/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Efforts to Ban Books Are Rapidly Increasing at Public Libraries” (news article, Sept. 22):

Thank you for bringing to our attention the fact that book bans, which initially targeted school libraries, are now affecting public libraries.

Last summer, my book “Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity” was displayed at the public library of League City, Texas. It caught the eye of someone who reported it to the Community Standards Review Committee, warning that my book would “indoctrinate our kids” to the “L.G.B.T.Q. lifestyle.”

Last month, thanks to the efforts of local activists, the committee decided to retain my book in the library, along with two other books that had been challenged.

But why pick on my book? Those who seek to ban books focus on their supposed threat to children, and my book is not a children’s book. Nor is it even vaguely “obscene.” It tells the story of four people in their 20s who decide to modify their bodies to align them more closely with their felt sense of gender. It is a sociological study written for a general audience.

The right claims that by publicly discussing L.G.B.T.Q.+ issues we threaten families, undermining the ties between parents and children. But the opposite is more often the case. By offering parents the possibility of better understanding their children, my book, and others like it, contribute to keeping family bonds intact.

Arlene Stein
Jersey City, N.J.
The writer is a professor of sociology at Rutgers University.

Require Masks in Hospitals

Liv Grace, who was born with a rare immune deficiency related to lupus, experienced three respiratory infections in four months after visiting medical providers. Credit…Rachel Wisniewski for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “In Hospitals, Viruses Are Everywhere. Mask Mandates Are Not” (front page, Sept. 25):

As a critical care physician and the parent of a child with cancer, I feel strongly that masking should be required for all hospital staff members and visitors.

When I contracted Covid, it was a relief to know that the N95 I had worn on all my shifts had protected at least 40 critically ill patients, their families and my colleagues.

This pandemic has highlighted that we cannot rely on individuals to self-report symptoms or mask voluntarily. A colleague who had been up all night with his feverish young children reported to work in the I.C.U. without a mask. Two of my daughter’s oncology nurses told me they experienced asymptomatic Covid infections; without a masking requirement their young patients would have been at great risk.

Unmasked health care providers send a signal to patients that it is safe to be unmasked in a high-risk setting, or even worse, that the provider’s comfort takes precedence over the patient’s safety.

In a sector where we regularly make sacrifices such as regular meals, bathroom breaks or conventional schedules, masking is a small price for protecting our patients. At the very least, it’s an act of solidarity for our at-risk patients and could save a life.

Katharine L. Modisett

Magic at the Wedding

Credit…Rozalina Burkova

To the Editor:

Re “Going Solo to a Wedding? Make Yourself Welcome” (Sunday Styles, Oct. 1):

Several years ago, I went solo to a wedding. I kept myself busy helping my friend, the bride, get the venue ready, and changed from jeans into my party dress at the very last minute.

It was only after dancing with the groom’s grandpa and chatting with other guests that I noticed the best man, who stood up to give a toast. His charm, intelligence, love for his friends and handsome looks caught my attention.

Twenty-three years later, now we tell our kids about the night their parents met.

Katie Silberman
East Greenwich, R.I.

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