Pope Francis could help avert planetary disaster by rescinding the Vatican’s mistaken 1968 condemnation of contraception

    By Edd Doerr | 2 May 2014
    Letter to The Nation

    (Credit: Paulrudd / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

    The Hayes, Klein, and Zegart pieces on climate change (May 12) were spot on. Yes, we must reduce consumption, conserve resources, and develop clean energy sources, but the articles made no mention of human overpopulation, which is what fuels climate change, CO2 build-up, resource depletion, environmental degradation, deforestation, desertification, soil erosion, rising sea levels, fresh water shortages, biodiversity shrinkage, and increasing sociopolitical instability and violence.

    World population has tripled since the warnings of Julian Huxley and others in the 1950s. The Ford administration’s 1975 National Security Study Memorandum 200 report detailed much of the problem, called for universal access to contraception, and noted that abortion should be decriminalized, but it was mysteriously “classified” and buried until 1989 and is never mentioned.

    Part of the problem is the vigorous opposition to contraception by conservative religious leaders. Pope Francis could help by rescinding the Vatican’s mistaken 1968 condemnation of contraception.

    Edd Doerr
    Americans for Religious Liberty
    Box 6656
    Silver Spring., MD 20916

    (And long time Nation subscriber. FYI, to my knowledge I am the only writer who published reviews of the book with the NSSM 200 report, in USA Today magazine and other publications.)

    The New Abolitionism by Christopher Hayes

    The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External by Naomi Klein

    Want to Stop Climate Change? Take the Fossil Fuel Industry to Court by Dan Zegart

    Edd Doerr was president of the American Humanist Association from 1995 to 2003, serving previously as vice-president and board chair under Isaac Asimov from 1985 to 1991. He has been executive director and then president of Americans for Religious Liberty since 1982. A former teacher of history and Spanish, he is the author, co-author, editor, or translator of twenty books, mostly on religious liberty and reproductive rights. He served on the governing body of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice from 1973 until 2004 and on the boards of NARAL, the ACLU of Maryland, and the National Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty. More than 3,000 of his articles, columns, reviews, and letters have been published in The Humanist and many other publications. For over ten years he has been writing a column in the journal Free Inquiry from the Council for Secular Humanism.


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    Professor Milton Siegel, who for 24 years was the Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, speaks to Dr. Stephen Mumford in 1992 to reveal that although there was a consensus that overpopulation was a grave public health threat and would be a major cause of preventable death not too far in the future, the Vatican successfully fought off the incorporation of family planning and birth control into official WHO policy. This video is available for public viewing for the first time. Read the full transcript of the interview here.

    Population growth as an issue has been given short shrift for several decades. Robert Engelman, president of Worldwatch Institute, outlines the reasons in this clip from an interview filmed for the documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. To order the film or find a screening near you, visit www.growthbusters.org.

    Last Call: The Untold Reasons of the Global Crisis is a film that shows the urgency of the message of warning launched by the authors of the most controversial book of the past 40 years: The Limits to Growth.

    Critical Mass is a feature documentary about the impact of human population growth and consumption on the planet and on our psychology.

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