Privacy is a principle upon which much of the Left’s agenda depends. Liberals have long argued against conservative policies on abortion and homosexuality by employing the mantra: “Keep the government out of the bedroom and its laws off my body!” But liberals are ever eager to abandon the so-called right to privacy when it suits their purposes.
With this in mind, I was not surprised to hear that a radical environmentalist in Great Britain called this week for his government to adopt a radical population control strategy.
Jonathon Porritt, a “green” advisor to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said “[p]opulation growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure. Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries, so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact.”
What’s Porritt’s estimate of the necessary reduction in men, women and children that Britain needs to build a sustainable society? One-half, from 60 million people to 30 million.
In times of crisis, real and imaginary, the Left’s instinct always is to presume that people are the problem. From Thomas Malthus in the late 18th Century to Paul Ehrlich in the late 20th, environmentalists have always found audiences for their predictions of global catastrophe should population grow unchecked. And they have always been proved wrong, because they underestimate the adaptability and innovation of those whose number they seek to limit.
Sadly, there are only so many ways to implement population control. One option is to snuff out some of society’s more burdensome citizens. And indeed euthanasia is re-emerging in many western nations, including the United States.
Another strategy is to cut down on the number of children created and born. Porritt has called for families to limit themselves to two children. Any more than that, he says, would be “irresponsible.”
In the U.S., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was roundly criticized for attempting to insert millions of dollars for birth control into the so-called “stimulus” bill in order to, in her words, “reduce costs…to the government.” Author Steven Kotler, blogging at Psychology Today, recently wrote that the effects of climate change mean “[w]e need to lose 4.4 billion people and we need to lose them fast.”
Kotler’s suggestion? A five-year ban on child-bearing for “[all] of us. The whole freakin planet.” The irony, of course, is that many Western nations are already committing demographic suicide by having small families and opening the door to widespread immigration from countries whose values are at odds with their own. But instead of calling for a moratorium on immigration, the radical environmentalists would rather restrict you from having children.
All this is happening as under-population — not overpopulation — has emerged as a problem in many places. Negative population growth has been a fact of life in many European nations. But under-population is also starting in countries that until recently had been associated with high birth rates, including Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and India. The United Nations projects that world population may begin declining in about a generation — as early as 2040.
In order to persuade people of the advantages of radical population control policies, the anti-people environmentalists must employ extreme rhetoric to convey precisely how serious the situation is.
Take man-made global warming. Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu says of its potential effects, “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen. …I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going.” Al Gore testified before Congress that “decisive action” was needed this year to combat global warming, “this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization…”
Earlier this month, British climate scientists estimated that we have only a 50-50 chance of saving the planet from warming catastrophe. And a renowned economist recently predicted “extended world war” should the world not address global warming decisively.
These dire forecasts come at an inconvenient time, however. The average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere has dropped one quarter of a degree Celsius over the past 10 years, and increased only about half a degree over the past century. And Iceland has witnessed advancing glaciers since 1970, a decade in which it was fashionable to predict imminent doom from global cooling.
These facts help explain why hundreds of respected climate experts have stated publicly that man-made global warming is not the sort of climate change they can believe in.
The public too remains skeptical. According to a Pew poll published soon after Obama’s inauguration, Americans rank “dealing with global warming” last among 20 policy priorities. And a March Gallup poll found an increase, from 30 percent just three years ago to 41 percent now, in the share of Americans who believe global warming is “exaggerated.” And only 38 percent fear that “global warming will pose a serious threat to you and your way of life in your lifetime.”
But relying on the disputed theory of global warming, President Obama proposed the very real threat of a cap-and-trade tax that would place on all Americans the burden of combating an unproven environmental hazard in a time of economic crisis. It will be a tax on energy, adding to the cost of everything, from growing our food, to heating our homes and driving our cars.
The truth is that science has a long way to go before it can help us determine whether global warming is real, and, if it is, who or what is causing it and how best to deal with it. We can safely say, however, that humanity in and of itself is not the problem.
Far from imperiling our prosperity, human beings are the driving force behind it. And we need to invest in future generations if our environmental challenges are to be met, just as past leaders, inventors and innovators led us out of previous eras of predicted impending doom.
Being good stewards of the earth is important, but care for the environment should bolster — not diminish — our concern for human life. True concern for the environment begins with respect for its most precious resource, us.