Letter: Too many people

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The Independent Online
Sir: At the Kyoto conference on climate change world leaders may agree to make a cut in greenhouse gases. Efforts will presumably be concentrated on improving technology to make more efficient use of energy.

Whatever can be done in this direction should be done, but there are enormous difficulties. For example, Japan claims that 20 more nuclear power stations would be needed for it to make another 5 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions.

We hear of many proposals to tackle the technological aspect of the problem and a few to moderate affluent lifestyles. However, especially in the richer and therefore most polluting countries, we hear of none addressing the question of the amount of people, whose numbers multiplied by their per capita consumption lead to the total impact of technology on the environment.

Measures towards gradual, voluntary reduction in national populations should be an important strand in any strategy to combat climate change. The trend towards smaller populations already exists in a few European countries and should be welcomed and planned for.

SUE BIRLEY

Co-ordinator, The Campaign for Political Ecology

Wanborough, Wiltshire

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