Letter: The common sense guide to reducing population growth

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YOU REPORT that Sir Roy Calne ('Artist with the knife', 14 August) would not, 'if he were starting a family today, have quite so many children' (as six). That's nice. Welcome to common sense about population growth.

Like the professor, I was born at the beginning of the 1930s and went on to study life sciences. By the 1960s, the central problem on earth was clear to anybody and it influenced my life - married 1967; son born 1970; daughter born 1972; vasectomy 1972.

We did have the support of the state and the NHS but, otherwise, we managed without any specific 'financial incentive', 'reproduction permit' or 'minimum parenting age'. Of course, it is a lot to hope that common sense will make much difference, but, if we started with that, it might help the argument and quell some of the cries of 'Fascist dictatorship'.

The professor's admission that 'population growth is mainly a problem in developing countries' indicates that a good deal more thought is needed. People who calculate these things estimate that a life lived in north-west Europe or North America does between 100 and 150 times more environmental damage than a life lived in a developing country.

The developing countries can easily argue that it is the West that is taking the lead in the earth's denudation, deforestation, desertification and all the rest of it.

The mother of 10 you featured (Real Life, 14 August) says that it is 'up to people to have the family they can cope with'. If people started to say 'the family that the earth can cope with', we would be getting somewhere.

T B Wadeworth

Newport, Isle of Wight