With the publication of Kurt Woltersdorf’s “The Conversation: Is it getting crowded around here?” (Source, July 13), the Press Herald again thoughtfully chooses to be a principled “thought leader” and to print critical perspectives that most media unfortunately ignore.

Kurt’s piece drives to the source of Maine’s, and humanity’s, ultimate challenge: ridding ourselves of the ridiculous contention that continued growth of the human population offers net benefits.

Do we really want a million more homes along Maine’s still-beautiful coast? Isn’t access to this threatened resource difficult enough?

Yet the challenge of stabilizing human numbers may be easier than ending the notion that endless material growth of the economy is a requirement.

Isn’t our greatest challenge to learn to “build” communities that “grow” not by filling another field with homes but by filling improved, existing homes more creatively, and offering people healthier, more meaningful lives? After all, in a finite material world, more for some means less for others. History indicates that too little for some leads to conflict.

We are decidedly more clever than Kurt’s fruit flies, but our brightest minds understand that the current human population of 7.2 billion only exists because each year we dig deeper into our world’s natural capital.

Instead of living off a sustainable yield of food and energy, society systematically reduces the ability of the earth to provide for our wants and needs. Wells go dry, topsoil disappears and even the fish in the sea can’t keep up.

Metaphorically, we don’t just eat the apples we harvest; we cut off a limb or two of the apple tree to heat the oven to make the pie. At some point, society ends up with no apples and no heat. Who wants a life with no prospects of a piece of apple pie?

Kurt’s correct. It’s time to change the paradigm.

Dudley Greeley

Cumberland