Letters to the Editor
December 2015

Thanks for the excellent article on the situation in Burundi and the very clear connection between violence and overpopulation in that poor country. A people so culturally tied to the land can see disaster coming when the average plot is less than needed for subsistence.

I am puzzled as to why the story of Burundi’s northern neighbor, Rwanda, and the horrible genocide of 1994, did not come up in that article. Jared Diamond, in his book Collapse describes the Rwanda genocide as Malthusian, saying it really had little to do with politics and corruption, and everything to do with food and the land. Prior to the genocide, Rwanda’s land situation was the same as Burundi’s, with each male farming a tiny parcel of land less than one-tenth of an acre. If Diamond is right, and I think he is, then the situation in Burundi is ripe for another round of genocide.

Christopher Bystroff, PhD
Professor of Biological Sciences and Computer Science
Director of the Bioinformatics Program
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, New York

I received a complimentary copy of Population Connection magazine this month, and I loved it. I was truly intrigued by the results of your member water poll. Not surprisingly, the top concern for readers and supporters was that more wars and civil strife will occur because of water and food shortages.

I would say your readers are prescient and thoughtful. There is a need to worry about less water and food, more war, and climate change impacts.

John L. Hewitt III
Simsbury, Connecticut

Thanks a lot for the free copy of Population Connection. I think that the issues caused by the enormous number of humans living today are vitally important to understand and act on.

Regarding abortion—which I believe should remain legal—women need access to and education regarding effective birth control in order to reduce its incidence.

Joe Jagella
Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Re: “Human Population Boom Remains Largest Threat to Africa’s Lions in Wake of Cecil’s Killing”

I feel all wildlife is doomed. Humans just don’t seem to understand that too many people hurts everything—including themselves. I hope that people who live in East Africa are learning about birth control at the same time that they are learning how to coexist with lions. But I also realize that seeing the results of a lower birth rate would take so long the lions would probably be gone by then.

Bonnie Scott
Ravensdale, Washington

Many months ago, after watching Hans Rosling’s online presentation on human population, I got the impression that human population stabilization efforts were a well-intended, but ultimately futile, effort. Dr. Rosling’s message fed my (at that time) ambivalent attitude toward population organizations.

I was about to let my Population Connection membership expire, but then I watched John Seager’s excellent presentation to the 2015 American Humanist Association conference attendees on YouTube. Seager’s presentation was so compelling that I changed my mind on the matter and immediately renewed by Population Connection membership online.

William Cundiff
Menomonie, Wisconsin

Wow—I am so impressed [by the October issue]! The cover article on Burundi was excellent, but so depressing. I visited Burundi and stayed in Bujumbura 28 years ago. The problems there seem insurmountable, and it seems the likely resolution risks coming with very great tragedy to the nation’s people. You guys are great, and are clearly doing a great job.

John Levin
Norwalk, Connecticut

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