It was from the late Dr. Raymond B. Cowles, teaching a graduate class in Human Genetics at UCLA, that I first heard about the dangers of world population growth, in 1953. I was thunderstruck. Ever since then, during my 41 years of teaching college-level Introduction to Biology, I have dedicated at least one lecture to overpopulation in every class.
What worries me the most is the deaf ear all politicians and news commentators have for any notion that there is a world population problem. They all seem to be mesmerized, rather, by the symptoms caused by too many people on Earth: civil war, corruption, religious conflict, climate change, and political disagreements.
In general, people simply do not understand that the size of the world population is of any concern. People seem to confuse density with carrying capacity. They believe such nonsense that the entire world population can fit into the state of Texas! I feel like a voice in the wilderness. The only people who seem to understand are my fellow colleagues in biology.
Charles W. Brown, Ph.D.
And fellow readers of Population Connection, I hope!
I am extremely concerned about an unscientific misrepresentation of facts in your June 2017 article, “Nomads No More: Why Mongolian Herders Are Moving to the City.”
You implied — or, at a minimum, over-emphasized — that climate change was the primary cause of the degradation of grazing conditions for the traditional grazers. But then you touched on the primary cause — that the regulation of the number of livestock by the Soviet Union ended, which then jumped 250 percent.
I know human-caused climate change is one of the most enormous challenges facing us, and I certainly am not a supporter of the former Soviet Union; however, I also do not appreciate the mischaracterization of this situation for the purposes of hyperbole.
The article in question was not about the degradation of grazing conditions in Mongolia, per se. It was about the climate changes that have triggered particularly harsh dzuds over the past three decades, killing millions of livestock and leading hundreds of thousands of herders to abandon their nomadic lifestyles for the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, out of pure necessity.
I printed this article to demonstrate how climate change, combined with increased population (human and livestock) is wreaking havoc on traditional lifestyles. To that end, I maintain that the article was worth sharing.
Correction from the June 2017 issue: Tom Hawkins lives in Fort Bragg, California, not Carter Lake, Iowa. Apologies for the error.