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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Listeners Have Their Say

Air Date: Week of

We hear listener comments concerning our recent three-part population series covering a broad range of topics including immigration, illegal abortion and patriarchy.


CURWOOD: We received a great deal of response to our recent programs on population issues. Our features on the debate over the environmental impact of immigration to the United States and our own high teen birth rate brought a number of calls including these.

CALLER: My name is Major Tillman. I'm calling you from El Paso, Texas. I certainly echo the comments that we don't need to consume 5, almost 6 times more resources per individual in the United States than persons who live abroad. I think we have space and time to share. We just need to look at the best ways to do that. Thanks.

CALLER: I think we should begin at once both to limit immigration and to severely control our own population growth. We need to reintroduce fear, guilt and shame to our teenage population to have a child out of wedlock. At the same time we can begin to put people, immigrants, at the top of the list if they will have themselves vasectomized or undergo tubal ligation.

CURWOOD: Chris Curry wrote us over the Internet, calling for a national discourse on population. And for more encouragement for those of us who decide not to have children. And a listener to Maine Public Broadcasting had this suggestion.

CALLER: The current tax system and Welfare system favors having more and more children. What policy makers must do now is to end that free lunch. Tax deductions should only be allowed for up to 2 children in a family, and thereafter the third, the fourth and the fifth child in the family shouldn't be allowed a tax deduction unless those children are legally adopted.

CURWOOD: Our phone lines were jammed after our interview with Tufts University professor Pat Hynes on the role of patriarchy in the population question. We received this call from a listener to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

CALLER: Hi, this is Amy Curry. I certainly do believe that the key to solving the ecology problems of the Earth is the feminist revolution. And the reason for that is that as we empower women and girls, they will not need to worry about whether their children will survive, and they won't have to define themselves by having children. And every country where the women and girls are empowered in that way, the population is leveling off.

CALLER: Hi, my name is Scott Newland, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I listen to you on KUMN. Regarding the impact of men on world population, I think she's absolutely right. Given that men control the institutions primarily throughout the world, they are the ones that have to answer for the population expansion. The fact that poor people think they have to have more children in order to ensure their own survival is sad testimony to the inequitable resource distribution across the world.

CURWOOD: And we got a number of calls from men who were angry about our interview with Professor Hynes. This one came from Davenport, Iowa, from a listener to WVIK.

CALLER: Hello. That woman who was blaming men for reproduction? She's dead wrong and she knows it, and she's using the big lie technique. The truth of the matter is that female of any mammalian species (laughs) would have control, not the male, except in cases of rape. She's so crazy that, you know, what can you do but laugh, which is I suppose cry.

CURWOOD: And this from a listener to KPBX in Spokane, Washington.

CALLER: I traveled in Mexico in the 70s. A man took me aside and asked me what I could tell him about birth control. He and his wife had 8 children; he wanted to know what American women knew that helped them prevent having children. Now there's men out there who are interested in this, and I hope they will speak up. Thank you.

CURWOOD: Finally, we asked listeners whether they thought high consumption in the rich countries, or booming population in the poorer countries, was more of a threat to the future. Michael Bertsch, who listens on KCHO in Chico, California, sent an e-mail message saying it was a ridiculous question. "We in the north must reduce our consumption," Mr. Bertsch writes, "and those in the south must reduce population growth. Plus, we in the north must show the south how our consumption patterns have caused great hardship, so they can industrialize sustainably. And those in the south must show us in the north how to live happily and comfortably on less. Only then can we call ourselves civilized.



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