IN RESPONSE to Susan Chapple's email of 3rd February promoting the idea that large families are wrecking the planet, I would like to say that her ideas on human population and the earth's resources are at least forty years out of date and have been proven to be wrong.

It was back in 1968 that a professor called Paul Erlich published "Population Bomb" and made all sorts of gloomy predictions about the future, much of which Susan Chapple repeated in her email. Lo and behold they have not come true and in some of the predictions the opposite has occurred! For example we know that far from there being a food shortage because of population increase there has been food increase: since 1968 the world population has increased many times over, yet calorie intake per person has increased by 24%! Far from population causing famine it is politics that causes famine for humankind produces more food than it needs.

The real reason for population increase now is not births but the lack of deaths! The death-rate has been falling for some time (due to modern medicine) and as we know that means the elderly are increasing in number. Whereas birthrates worldwide have been falling because of a number of factors. In Britain and most of Europe we are below replacement level, which means our economies can only remain healthy if we encourage immigration. Because of this many people think that indigenous cultures are dying because of the shear numbers of immigrant workers needed for the economy.

Far from condemning large families for selfishness, Susan Chapple should be commending them for their selflessness in trying to make up for the majority of couples who have chosen to have less than the replacement level of children (2.1). In a society with increasing numbers of elderly, how on earth are they to be cared for by a much smaller population of economically active citizens? As far as I know no one has been able to answer that question.