Debate over what the Earth can handle

I am writing in response to “Look askance all you’d like — we’ll make more” by David Paul Deavel (March 2). I suppose we should expect a defensive tone from an associate editor of Logos and a fellow of the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas. Still, it is sad when intelligent and educated people ignore the facts and science of the population explosion.

The Earth’s population is now at 8 billion, and has doubled in 45 years. Some have said the carrying capacity of the planet is 2 billion. The surplus of people takes its toll on farmland, which has dropped by half per person since 1960.

It takes its toll on fresh water, which has dropped by half per person since 1960, and is causing our aquifers to dry up and water tables (as shown by White Bear Lake) to decrease. It takes its toll on our forests, which have also dropped by more than half. It takes its toll on oil and gasoline supplies, on fish stocks, on animals becoming extinct, on vital minerals and on other resources.

Our population is far beyond sustainable levels. Nearly every problem of the world can be traced to this basic problem.

Robert Kriesel, West Lakeland Township

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I read with great concern a recent letter that asked of the Catholic Church: “Shouldn’t tackling the issue of overpopulation be a moral imperative?”

According to Austin Ruse and his essay “The Myth of Overpopulation and the Folks Who Brought it to You”:

“[T]he theory that the world is so awash in people that it will eventually die is false and it always has been. We will not run out of food, natural resources, or room. The theory is completely and dangerously false. The world now produces more food on less land than ever before. The world is awash in food. The problem is getting it to the hungry. Starvation occurs in the world today not from lack of food but generally as a result of bad policies or the use of starvation as a tool of war. Also, the cost of natural resources is now lower than forty years ago. Price is always a marker for availability: lower prices mean greater availability. Why are natural resources more plentiful? Simply because of our ingenuity. Mankind is better at getting natural resources out of the ground, whatever they are, and we are more efficient in their use.”

Therefore, birth control is not needed, since there is no such thing as overpopulation. End the myth.

This is why the Catholic Church and other organizations are committed to feeding the poor.

Phil McDonald, Eden Prairie

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Only manufacturing can create wealth

In discussing the fiscal cliff, sequestration and the like, politicians and the media have misled the public by confusing economic activity with economic growth.

GDP is a measure of economic activity, the total value of goods and services. But an increase in economic activity does not necessarily mean an increase in economic wealth. An example: an increase in public-sector employment.

Wealth is solely created by manufacturing, including mechanized farming, by multiplying the output of the individual worker. Notable examples: the printing press, cotton gin, stationary steam engine and assembly line. All other sectors of the economy —retail, housing, insurance, markets — merely shuffle around the wealth created by manufacturing.

Two predictions follow: First, politicians and the media should bring the public back from Fantasyland, where increased governmental expenditures on non-wealth-creating activities supposedly make the nation wealthier. Second, the government should do whatever is needed to increase industrial and agricultural production, so that the nation’s wealth, and not just its economic activity, can grow.

William Soules, Minnetonka

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Will Minnesota let an opportunity slip away?

I take issue with the March 3 Letter of the Day (“Mayo wants taxpayers to help after losing its edge post 9/11”). It is obvious that the writer has fortunately not had the need to use the fantastic services offered to all at Mayo. Mayo has never “lost its edge” and in 2013 is the No. 3 hospital in the United States — ahead of the Cleveland Clinic the writer mentions as surpassing Mayo (source: “Best Hospitals,” U.S. News and World Report.)

The writer and the state must also remember that with or without the state’s help, Mayo will build a destination hospital complex as it describes. The question is if it will be in Rochester or elsewhere. It appears that its first choice is Rochester, just as 3M’s first choice for a $1 billion research campus was Maplewood during former Gov. Rudy Perpich’s time.

Like Mayo now, 3M then did not want a dime in tax breaks; all it wanted was a freeway interchange to allow access to one end of its property. Perpich and the Democratic Legislature said no, and 3M announced that it would build in Austin, Texas, instead. It has been more than doubled in size since — and it could have been in Minnesota but for the thinking the letter writer has. Let’s all hope that reason prevails this time and we keep this treasure called the Mayo Clinic.

Jim Tegan, Plymouth

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Can our state give Mayo more than half a billion dollars to transform Rochester into a world-class destination? What about all the other medical facilities around the state, such as Park Nicollet, Fairview or Allina, or about other cities that need state money? Where does it end? Is it ethical or even legal for our state tax money to be used in this manner?

Bonni Rodin, St. Paul