We hit 7 billion humans this Halloween, 9 billion by 2041, and even 15 billion by 2100, if we don’t slow down.

Until recently, we produced enough food worldwide to feed our populations. Unequal distribution and social disruption caused world hunger. But with the uncertain climate of our future already threatening harvests, we cannot expect to feed the predicted number of people.

Our numbers, and levels of consumption in the wealthy world, are damaging the biosphere we depend on, breathing forests and oceans, the wealth of interdependent species, fertile soils and clean watersheds, and the ability of the mighty natural sink to absorb our pollutants.

Our current mantra is that we must “grow” our economies, consumption and populations in order to be viable. We can choose the precaution of limiting, even reducing, our numbers, both of high consumers and those with high birthrates.We can question our assumption of perpetual growth.

Peoples, women, men, families, could be encouraged to choose, everywhere, whatever age, to have only the number of children they can care for under increasingly difficult conditions, without coercion and draconian measures.

We can protect our kindly family planning clinics from fundamentalist assault and encourage more of them, here and around the world. These are choices we can make, because our ability to take care of ourselves in a deteriorating and extreme environment is so uncertain.

The alternative, the biblical “four horsemen” cynically invoked by pessimists as the default solution to overpopulation, is not an ethical choice. Let us face our dilemma — loving children but needing fewer children in our future in order to take care of them — and openly address this issue, now rather than later.

Beedy Parker

Camden

Kesich’s thoughtful take on issues will be missed

I read with dismay the news that the Press Herald will be cutting Greg Kesich’s job as a columnist as a downsizing measure. Mr. Kesich so often addresses between-the-lines implications of stories reported elsewhere in your pages, and also contributes a reasoned, respectful counterweight to the politically conservative views of M.D. Harmon.

Given the paper’s feeble vigilance over City Hall and other Portland institutions, Mr. Kesich’s reassignment to a reporter’s beat is not, by itself, terrible news; however, I will miss his excellent writing, his logical arguments and his local voice.

Monica Wood

Portland

Newcomers receive breaks that aren’t given to others

I’m 70 years old and have had a driver’s license in Maine since I was 26. I now have to present my birth certificate and a bill showing my current address in order to renew my license.

This apparently is the only way the state will know that it is really me. I haven’t a clue as to why my current license with my picture isn’t proof any longer.

Now I’ve learned that a state senator in Bangor is trying to get a bill on the table to allow Jamaicans to braid hair as a business without obtaining a license to do so.

I think it’s wonderful to allow the different cultures to come to the United States and live in a better atmosphere and improve their lives. I simply wonder why the same rules that apply to those of us who already live here shouldn’t apply to everyone.

Most of the people who move here are helped by the government (federal and state) to get them started, and we who are on Social Security can’t even get a raise. Why isn’t this country taking care of the people who are already living here?

Sharon Shane

Buxton

Firefighters’ longtime fan says he’s earned boat ride

I used to live on Hennessy Drive in Portland, about halfway up.

As kids growing up in the winter, we always dug the fire hydrants out. (They made great forts!)

As an adult, I’ve always done my share to help out the Portland Fire Department the best way that I could, by buying tickets to alumni baseball games and football games and you name it.

Every year, my shop and the other shops around me would contribute to the great cause: our brave men of the Portland Fire Department.

I am now retired and don’t have much going on during the week anymore. (I suffer from chronic headache syndrome and arthritis in my neck.)

I was wondering if I could make arrangements with the Fire Department to take the boat out some morning. (After it’s fixed, of course, and on a day that I’m not suffering from a headache.)

I’d love to take the family out for a cruise around the islands. They’ve never been, and I haven’t been for a very long time myself. I think I’ve earned my way for a relaxing day out on the water. I’ve put in my share, don’t you think?

I know — book me for the Fourth of July, seeing as how everybody else has been on the damn thing! The Fourth would work for sure, so hurry up and fix it, please.

Scott Grant

New Gloucester

Traveler finds difference in gasoline prices puzzling

Recently I traveled Down East as well as in the Biddeford-Sanford area. Regular gas was priced 10 to 15 cents a gallon, or more, lower than it sells for in the Portland-Westbrook area.

When this gas has to be trucked from either Bangor or Portland, who is ripping us off? Where is our beloved French governor? “Reveille mon vieux!”

Albert Doyon

Westbrook