The Politics of Protection

The battles over the Endangered Species Act are all too human.

Wolves are notoriously slow to hire lobbyists. Lichen doubly so. It's no surprise, then, that the Endangered Species Act is a law written by humans and used for human ends. Ever since the act's 1973 debut, supporters and opponents have accused each other of playing politics with the fates of nearly extinct plants and animals. To be fair, both sides are usually right. In Listed, conservation biologist Joe Roman recounts the uses and abuses of a well-intentioned but all-too-human law.

The difficulty of getting off the list of endangered species ranks right up there with unsubscribing from the Pottery Barn catalog. In the past four decades only 22 species—out of nearly 2,000 on the list—have been declared recovered, with several of the recoveries (including the bald eagle's) chalked up to the federal ban on DDT. Although more than half the listed populations have remained stable or improved, once you're on the list you're usually on it for good—and enjoying protections that include bans on trafficking and on "taking"—harming, wounding or killing—as well as protection from any action by a federal agency that might mess up your home turf.

Wolves are the exception: Yesterday, President Barack Obama swiftly and unceremoniously booted the wolves of the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes off the list. Humans have strong feelings about wolves—probably because, as predators, they have been one of our major rivals for ungulate calories over the millennia—and government officials are no exception.

The Bureau of Biological Survey, a precursor to the Fish and Wildlife Service, was established in 1905 with the explicit mission of hunting down the last of the wolves in the west. The hunters did a good job, too. Park rangers killed the last two wolves in 1926. Half a century later, with the Endangered Species Act in place, western gray wolves made the list. Though they were by then essentially unknown in the U.S., Canadian populations had fared better. In 1995, a cluster of adolescent wolves was flown into Yellowstone National Park from Canada and introduced into the wild.

To gain approval of the wolf project, the environmental nonprofit group Defenders of Wildlife developed a scheme to compensate ranchers on Yellowstone's borders for raids on livestock. Mostly, though, the wolves have been content to hunt within the park, with gratifying results. The park's elk, for instance, are now fewer, relieving pressure on vegetation near watering holes and slowing erosion. Meanwhile, tourists eager to get a glimpse of Fido's distant relatives contribute $35 million in annual revenue.

Yellowstone's wolf population has inevitably grown—an estimated 1,700 wolves range through the park's 3,472 square miles. As their numbers have swelled, so have their incidents of livestock poaching. Two weeks ahead of Mr. Obama's move, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho had tacked a few lines onto a budget bill, and just like that the 1,200 wolves within their states were no longer protected by the Endangered Species Act. Sen. Tester called it "a win for rural America, for jobs, and for our wildlife—and it's what's right for the wolves themselves." Limited wolf hunts are scheduled to begin in the fall.

That was the first time Congress had directly intervened in the listing of a particular animal, prompting complaints about interference from business interests and their legislative henchmen. (Mr. Obama's decision to delist the whole species may have been an effort to take back executive control of the process.) But one of the first battles over the law ended nearly identically in 1979, with a congressional amendment tacked onto an unrelated bill. The action allowed construction on the Tellico Dam in Tennessee to proceed, stopping up the Little Tennessee River and destroying the home of a newly discovered species of fish, the snail darter.

Mr. Roman notes that Chief Justice Warren Burger, during oral arguments over the fate of the darter, said of the environmentalists defending the fish: "I'm sure that they just don't want this project. The snail darter was discovered and became a handy handle to hold onto." Mr. Roman goes on: "He was right, of course. It was much more than the fish. It was the valley's farmers, it was the fishermen, it was the descendants of the ancient Cherokee." Humans, humans, everywhere.

At the heart of most of the endangered-species battles is that most human of inventions: money. Early versions of the Endangered Species Act insisted that money be no obstacle in the preservation of species, but later amendments allowed the government to take the losses to government and private landowners into account when protecting habitat areas. With an estimated 80% of endangered species located on private land, most of the cost has been borne by individual citizens in the form of timber left unharvested, homes left unbuilt and fields unplowed—to say nothing of the legal fees incurred by owners who battle for the right to harvest, build or plow.

Mr. Roman's meandering and occasionally lyrical book is generally optimistic about the law he is chronicling, and he tends toward win-win tales. He tells us, for instance, about dunes along the Gulf Coast, left intact because they are favored by endangered mice, that turn out to be the only protection for the homes of human beings when Hurricane Ivan hits in 1994.

But the book takes an abrupt turn in its final pages. Mr. Roman offers a plan "to make extinction as unacceptable as slavery and child labor" and lists nine steps—he says he drew them up with biologist Paul R. Ehrlich and others. Mr. Ehrlich is most famous for predicting, in The Population Bomb (1968), that overpopulation would cause mass starvation. It is his cold voice, not Mr. Roman's friendly one, that leaps off the page: "Stabilizing the human population, even humanely reducing it, will improve the lives of people and wildlife." How the world's population will be "humanely" reduced isn't explained. Suddenly it's man vs. beast all over again—with man defecting to the other side.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is a senior editor at Reason magazine. This article originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal on May 5, 2011.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    "Stabilizing the human population, even humanely reducing it, will improve the lives of people and wildlife." How the world's population will be "humanely" reduced isn't explained. Suddenly it's man vs. beast all over again—with man defecting to the other side."

    Oh I can think of someone who had some ideas about how to "humanly reduce human population". He and his followers did a lot of ground breaking work humanly reducing the Semitic population of Europe to a more sustainable level.

    That an otherwise serious thinker could right such a line in a book without a hint of shame, irony or worry of public condemnation shows just how sick and anti-human the environmental movement has become.

  • ||

    Who wants to volunteer to be humanly reduced?

  • AU H20||

    John, are the multiple personalities acting up again?

  • ||

    Consider it a footnote.

  • Ted S.||

    It would have been easier to blame the server squirrels.

  • Nomic||

    Is that like dieting? Hope not.

  • Highway||

    Maybe "humanely reducing the population" is these clowns hector you into killing yourself because you can't stand to listen to them whine anymore.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    What if I go on a--humane!--rampage amongst them because I can't stand to listen to them whinge anymore, instead?

    Will that still count?

  • Doc S||

    Well, humanely reducing the population doesn't have to be through the result of deaths, but more rationally through the reduction of birth.

    Not saying whether I agree or disagree with his statement, but comparing that to the deaths of millions of jews and other people around the world is just wrong.

  • ||

    "Not saying whether I agree or disagree with his statement, but comparing that to the deaths of millions of jews and other people around the world is just wrong."

    I suppose at some absolute level, the government having complete control over people's family and sex lives and forcing them to use contraception or when that fails have abortions is not quite as bad as outright killing people. But it is still a moral abomination and well beyond the pale in anything resembling a free society. So I really don't see where the defense of "it is not as bad as murder" really gets you anywhere.

  • Nomic||

    Covered under the Commerce Clause: If you have too many babies, there's a potential, substantial effect on interstate commerce, namely those who decided not to have too many babies, don't you see?

  • ||

    He may not be arguing that. If we enact reforms that increase wealth and prosperity for everyone (increasing freedom, trade, etc) people will likely respond by having few kids, and having them later in life. That is not really government control.
    Of course, you have to frame it that way for lovers of government control to buy into it.

  • Doc S||

    Thank you for being able to see that their are other options besides forced sterilization or mass killings to aid in this. Unfortunately it seems like you're one of the few in the comments that realizes it doesnt have to be taken to extremes and that increased quality of life, increased education, and increased womans rights will likely more adequately address this issue than anything else

  • skr||

    While increased prosperity and womens rights have been the most consistent way to decrease birth rates, I have never met an environmentalist that would admit this to be a solution to population growth. (womens rights are usually defended by them as a prima facia good and not a utilitarian one). As soon as you make the above argument the environmentalist will most likely shift the goalposts and start talking about carrying capacity and per capita energy use in affluent countries.

  • ||

    I suggest you investigate the contents of the book Erhlich wrote (The Population Bomb). He was no advocate of greater freedom or trade.

    He was an advocate of, for instance, elimination of food aid to India, and forced sterilization of a billion or so people in the third world.

    There's a page on Wikipedia that may enlighten you.

  • ||

    Also global intervention on behalf of any separatist movements that would be willing to enact population-limiting policies, or even just policies that were more in line with his book's recommendations.

  • rather||

    Aren't we 'moral' this morning. Did your mommy beat you last night with a abag of dreidels?

  • Doc S||

    lol wut? I'm def not jewish. I've been inside of more than a few JAPS but i don;t think that counts me as a jew yet.

  • Qetesh||

    If the "reduction of birth" is involuntary, the comparison is quite fair. Involuntary "reduction of birth" is evil, to put it bluntly.

  • da Troof||

    Well, humanely reducing the population doesn't have to be through the result of deaths, but more rationally through the reduction of birth.

    Another thing we can learn from the ChiComs.

  • Nomic||

    As above, If you have too many babies, there's a potential, substantial effect on interstate commerce.

  • skr||

    Actually, it does. Without death, even if you reduce the birth rate to zero, the population would remain constant.

  • DK||

    Aren't we being pedantic? I think it's pretty obvious that there's a substantial difference between the two types of deaths being talked about. One is death in response to forced starvation or whatever. The other is natural old age death. There seems to be an obvious moral high ground here.

  • JoshINHB||

    Oh I can think of someone who had some ideas about how to "humanly reduce human population". He and his followers did a lot of ground breaking work humanly reducing the Semitic population of Europe to a more sustainable level.

    He and his followers were also environmentalists.

  • Mr Whipple||

    The flu pandemic of 1918 did a pretty good job of thinning out the population. No need for humans to intervene. It's just a matter of time before Mother Nature unleashes her wrath on the human species, again.

  • ||

    Yeah but environmentalists want the reduction to be "humane" meaning none of them get reduced. The problem with a pandemic is you can't manage it properly, unless of course you design the pandemic and give the right people the antidote.

  • some guy||

    Or folks could just have fewer kids. "Humanely reducing" the population doesn't imply early deaths.

  • ||

    And how do you plan to get people to have less children? Forced population control (i.e. forced abortion and such) doesn't sound much better than putting people in ovens.

  • Mr Whipple||

    A licensing requirement will do. That will bring the population down, for sure. It worked for reducing the number of businesses.

  • ||

    And the penalty for having "unlicensed children"? And what will you do with such children? Fine the parents thus punishing the children?

  • ||

  • Doc S||

    "Because of the shortage of food, people are only allowed to have two children."

    Oh the horror? Only 2?? But how will I be able to be a good christian and produce plenty of offspring to support the church?
    Or a good radical muslim and produce plenty of offspring for walking bombs?

  • ||

    Oh the horror of having the government control your sex and family life. What is their to worry about as long as you only want to have two kids?

  • Doc S||

    You can have all the sex you want, probably more of it cuz your wife wont be knocked up. Just don't pop out extras.

    Also, although I'm not for govt telling me how many kids to have, why do you need more than 2 these days? It's not like old times or third world contries where where you needed them as a form of social security

  • ||

    It is my business why I need more than two kids. It is called being a free man.

  • Doc S||

    Well if its your natural right to put competitors into the population its just as much my right to take them out.

  • ||

    "Well if its your natural right to put competitors into the population its just as much my right to take them out."

    And it comes down in the end to killing people, just like I said above.

  • Doc S||

    "And it comes down in the end to killing people, just like I said above"

    Doesn't everything?? I mean that is the end destination for us all.

  • Trespassers W||

    Well if its your natural right to put competitors into the population its just as much my right to take them out.

    You barely have to scratch their surface to see what's underneath. I always feel a little embarrassed for them.

  • Doc S||

    You also don't need more than 2 kids, you may want more than 2 kids but dont confuse the two. You don't NEED any kids. You likely survived a significant portion of your life with out having any.

  • Somalian Road Corporation||

    Doc S, you don't "need" more than a few hundred calories a day and some water.

    Not surprised you profess to know so much about what other people want and need, however.

  • An Engineer||

    Umm have you seen the economy lately? It would actually help a lot in fixing our economic issues if the elderly could rely on their children for social security rather than the government. Not to mention the additional economic problems that are created by having a declining population. You pretty much have to maintain a growing population to have any kind of economic growth.

    Not to mention the fact that there is an almost infinite universe to colonize. If we get our act together and behave intelligently we can continue to grow our population and maintain natural wildlife at the same time.

  • jacob||

    I thought reason.com was a bastion of libertarian thought. Thanks for the bracing dose of totalitarianism Doc. How many kids someone has is none of anyone else's business. Nor is their choice of birth control. Nor is their choice of career or entertainment.

  • Nomic||

    What if you're good atheists like us? I pat her on the butt and another kid pops out 40 weeks later. Sometimes I swear my little swimmers have wings instead of tails.

  • GMT II||

    So the only folks who have more than two couch maggots are christians or radical muslims? Nice view of the world and I bet if you lift your skirt we will find a smiling Toni.

    BTW, because of my constant intake of beer, I ended up with four squids and not a one of them has seen a church.

  • Doc S||

    Obviously if you read my other posts you know that it really isn't my view of the world.
    It was just a comment to show the stupidity of the situation. But if you do look at birth rates I would bet you would find there is verrrry strong correlation with religion, and especially with muslims. Granted this isn't just because of religion, but limiting womens rights and education as well as the use of contraceptives sure doesn't help keep the rate low.

  • AU H20||

    I remember reading that as a kid. That and the giver turned me on to dystopian fiction, which in turn turned me on to the ideas of libertarianism, so... go Haddix.

    Christ, I did not realize she had written 7 of them. I was already too old when I tried reading the first sequel... it wasn't as good.

  • ||

    I already have a copy ready for my kids when they are old enough to read and comprehend the themes.

    I remember my first dystopian book, A Wrinkle In Time, and the rest of the series, having a big effect on me in the fourth grade. A year later I read another, though I can't remember the title. It was about a girl who lived in a world where no one was allowed to speak, so much so that over generations the vocal cords became shriveled and useless. People had to sit in cones of silence and meditate whenever difficulties arose; the main character was a girl who wanted to speak and rebel, hence she was constantly in her cone. One day she releases a singer from his tower and learns of the beauty of voice and song and emotion, until her parents and the government imprison him again and send her away to be properly inducted into the world of silence.

    Freaked me a little. In sixth grade I read Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 on my dad's recommendation. I think that was when my healthy mistrust of government/establishment/law/police/whatever really solidified in me. Made me a bit outcast among my peers, though.

  • AU H20||

    Well, I guess, looking back on it, Wrinkle was my first dystopian book. I just didn't realize it at the time.

    Never could get into her other work, though. As big a fan of sci-fi and fantasy as I am, I just couldn't get into it. Too werid.

    Fahrenheit 451 ranks as maybe my favorite book ever, and Bradbury my favorite author of all time. If I could write half as pretty as that man...

    Seriously, when Bradbury dies, I'm entering a period of mourning.

  • Mr Whipple®©™||

    Geese, I was joking.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    I was gonna tell them but I wanted to see it play out first.

  • Gill the Arm||

    Censored! Quick, look busy!

    Don't want to have to go on another mother hunt.

  • ||

    And that doesn't even mention the demographic problems of a low birth rate.

  • Doc S||

    Is this referring to the china problem or the japan problem?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yeah but environmentalists want the reduction to be "humane"...

    That's one of the differences between environmentalists and conservationists.

  • DK||

    The Spanish flu killed ~50M people, or 3% of the world's population at the time. That's not all that much thinning out. Even if 50M people died now, it would still only come out to

  • spock||

    The Mark of Gideon?

  • AU H20||

    So, how long until the environmentalists take over a country and start murdering folks?

  • ||

    Twenty years and it will be in Europe where it happens.

  • AU H20||

    Eh, I would think that Africa is more likely. A bunch of wealthy enviros support some tinpot crackpot, and then, college kids can flock there for spring break, coming back with stories of how, like, without capitalism destroying it, nature has totally found a balance with humanity man.

    See, the EU might intervene if a country tried the whole genocide thing again. The AU would send cash.

  • ||

    That is an interesting point. I could definitely see that happening. They wouldn't put people in ovens, they would just exile them and put them in camps to create "nature reserves".

  • AU H20||

    Wasn't there an African dictator who tried to return his country to nature or some such bullshit? Am I being crazy here?

  • Doc S||

    Bolivia is doing it right now. Granting mother nature rights equal to those of a person. They're establishing like a cou8rt of mother earth and givign her a legal representative.

    All I can say is this should turn out... interestingly???

  • Fiscal Meth||

    The new "noble experiment" in Africa? I can see it. I could also see a large chunk of Americans praising it and lusting to bring the model home even as millions are dying over there. Just like the last noble experiment.

  • Doc S||

    Well humanely reducing the population is pretty easy in theory. Just keep births below the replacement rate.

    It's unfortunate that it's usually the less intelligent people that have the most kids for it continually dilutes the gene pool.

  • ||

    "Well humanely reducing the population is pretty easy in theory. Just keep births below the replacement rate."

    Yeah and doing that consistent with having a free society is just so simple. If the government can tell you when and if and how many children you have, you are not a free person. The right to procreate is about as basic and most personal right as you can get.

  • Nomic||

    Reproductive rights? Isn't that supposedly the point of Roe v Wade? Or does that only apply to yanking 'em out early?

  • skr||

    Actually RvW is about privacy.

  • sarcasmic||

    been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding
    the cretins cloning and feeding
    and I don't even own a TV

  • ||

    +1

  • SIV||

    even humanely reducing it

    Empower a panel.
    Build a camp.
    High-speed Sonderzuge

  • K S||

    It remains a shock to me how many people are more than happy to decide how many children I am going to have. What if it was the other way? And the government decided to ban abortion and contraception because they wanted to grow the population? Would you still feel the same way? Or do you have such deep seated cognitive dissonance that you can't see how the two are similar?

  • Doc S||

    I can see how the two are related, but once again you would still be able to not have kids if these were the methods of implementation. and there are also 2 other holes that I can use that wont result in babies.

  • K S||

    So because I can have a couple kids, it is okay. That really doesn't make any sense. What if the government told you to have ten kids, regardless of how many you want? Are you still okay with the government deciding how many kids you have? After all, you can stop after ten and then use the "two other holes" you discuss.

    From what I gather, you are okay with (maybe not support, since you want to walk the fence on this) government intervention as long as it meets with your worldview, but you oppose government intervention if it doesn't? The problem with people with your take on government intervention is you forget that the government you are under may not support your worldview. So you push for your worldview to be implemented forgetting that the winds of change might come and all of the sudden what you used to support has become a tool to allow what you abhor to be forced on the masses.

  • Doc S||

    I wouldn't say that I support government intervention as long as it supports my views, but rather, I support good well thought out policies that actually are better for the population as a whole.
    I'm not incredibly concerned with my individual rights and am willing to give up a few personal liberties if the results truly are better for the population as a whole. Obvioulsy I'm leaving my self open for some people to take this comment to ridiculous extremes but you can see the point that I'm making.

    Unfortunately there really aren't very many good examples of well thought out policy that can achieve this. I would like to believe that there would some day be a government that actually can think for the best as a whole and not just a select few. And clearly policies removing birth control and requiring 10 kids per child bearing woman wouldn't truly be the best for the whole.
    I guess I'm not as much of an extremeist as most people on these boards, and I truly do believe that the majority of people would rather do whats good for everyone than just themselves.

  • K S||

    The very problem with your thinking, and I do appreciate your honesty, especially here, is that you simply don't know when a government will go from your ideal to your nightmare. The very reason we were given freedoms and a limited government was to protect against this very phenomenon. So how would your ideal government guard against a nightmare government that would use the powers you granted to take away some freedoms for the greater good to then take away all freedoms for the greater good? Who decides what is the greater good? How would you know it is the greater good? Is it majority rule? Dictator rule?

    So how would limiting children in this country be good for the whole? Our population growth is almost entirely drawn by immigration as our birthrate is only at replacement numbers. Are you willing to forcibly implement a lower birth rate on third world countries to slow our population growth? Or simply close the borders altogether? The problem with well intentioned policies is that they always come with second hand consequences that greatly increase the power of the state over you.

    Let me give you an example. Let's say you get married, you have your two kid limit, then you get divorced and get remarried. Your new partner doesn't have any children but now you are sterilized and can't have any more children. You are going to create a whole culture that is perverted. We don't even need to imagine what would happen, we can look at China to see what unintended consequences look like. So how would you guard against these kinds of issues? Have you thought this whole thing through or are you simply viewing this through your own intentions?

  • Doc S||

    Forcible policy measures like that aren't the solution. I believe that the true solution relies in increasing education and womens rights. The statistics and numbers speak for themselves that the more educated (literacy rates) the population (especially women) the lower the birth rate. So the key is to improve the education in those countries where population growth is an issue.
    Policies shouldn't be the "you can only have 2 children type" Like I said, I support good policy that truly results in the better for the population, and improving education is the best policy out there.

    I've never said that the 2 kid thing is good policy, only that you dont really NEED any kids at all, its about what you want.

  • K S||

    But have any of our attempts truly worked when it comes to either educating the world or women's rights? NOW is almost completely silent on the abuses of women in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The aid money we give almost always funds the corrupt government to whom we give it. So what are you really advocating here?

    Have you ever read Aristotle? If you haven't, you should.

  • Doc S||

    Well, clearly if current methods aren't working then things need to be done to change that. I'm advocating finding effective efficient solutions rather than just throwing money into NGO black holes. I don't propose to have the solution to every one of the world's problems, nor do I propose to have the best method for implementation. Those are outside of my field of expertise.

    I do however have the knowledge to know when a system isn't working efficiently and there are needs for change. Just because something has been done poorly in the past doesn't mean that it will be done poorly in the future. Use those lessons learned form the failure to find a system or method that works.
    Obviously its easier said than done with corrupt govtments, different religious beliefs, and current conditions. But once again it doesn't mean it shouldn't be.

    I have read some of Aristotle but not since college philosophy classes 10+ years ago, and would be open to suggestions to add to my always increasing pile of things to read. Have you read any environmental economics books? Teitenberg and Lewis have a good one out.

  • Doc S||

    Also, then what do you propose? You seem to have many questions but offer very few answers, a common problem with philosophy.

  • K S||

    I advocate a limited government who doesn't meddle in the affairs of other sovereign governments and who doesn't meddle in the personal affairs of the people. A government that allows people to govern themselves when it comes to reproductive rights, whether that means abortion or having fifteen children. I advocate free association with whomever I choose without government interference.

  • K S||

    You are assuming that the government is the only means to accomplish this, or maybe you aren't and you just aren't articulating it well. The government has over and over again demonstrated that it is inefficient and corrupt, both here and abroad. How can an institution that has all the power be truly used for a force of good?

    You ask why I ask a lot of questions, I ask because I am not certain that you have really considered what you are suggesting and that if you followed your suggestions to their logical conclusions you would probably be disappointed in the results. Feelings and intentions are simply not good enough. You don't have to have all the answers but ignoring the problems of the past and wishing for some more efficient solution will never happen through government, they have no incentive to do anything but increase their own power.

    I have a political philosophy book that had most of Plato and Aristotle's writings in it, so I am not sure of the exact individual book, but if you focus on his political philosophy, you will find a lot of good nuggets of information in there.

  • Bill||

    Who decides "what is good for everyone"?

    Go to any site and read people's posts and you have a huge variety of opinions and several major camps on almost any issue. So then it is back to a political process where an elite makes the ultimate decision, even if they get voted in democratically by 23.5% of the voting age populace.

    Another argument against "humanely REDUCING population" is that it is the third world countries where population is growing the fastest, so it will be enlightened "progressives" and failed visionaries like Erhlich that propose solutions for other countries populations.

    Two children does not allow for replacement since not everyone can or wants to have children. You would end up with a shrinking, aging population. And my take on a growing population (not sure why I think this except maybe some points Friedman made) is that in a market economy, it leads to growth in the economy.

  • Doc S||

    Yeah, the replacement rate is about 2.1, once again didn't say that 2 kids should be mandated. We just have to make sure that really really smart or really really athletic couple has that 3rd kid to make it 2.1 (obvioulsy joking)

    And we always used to have discussions about this back when I was in grad school about the best kind of government for these kind of policies and reform. And eventually it would always lead to the same conclusion.

    The only type of government where it would actually be able to work out is a complete global dictatorship where you (some enlightened individual) ran the world lol. So I agree it's far from an easy solution, put that doesn't mean the problem shouldn't be addressed.

  • K S||

    Be careful what you advocate, there are people who would be happy to see a one world government.

    When you say the problem should be addressed, what do you really mean? Are we the right people to address it? Nation building hasn't exactly worked out for us. Are you willing to go live among the poor of the world and bring them this education? To encourage them to take their rights? Or are you waiting for our military to come in and enforce our rights? Has this worked so far in the Middle East?

  • Doc S||

    I am willing to live among the poor and help them bring them this education, and have in fact done that as part of a fullbright. I would however rather that there educators were better educated since they are the ones that will ultimately have the biggest effects on the pupils and future students.
    They don't need me to encourage them to take their rights, their recent demonstrations in the middle east and Africa have demonstrated that they want their rights.
    Nation building and improving education aren't the same thing. And we could stand to do the same thing with the poor/undereducated in our country.

    And the one world govt is inevitable, I can't wait til we're renamed New China. (sarcasm)

  • Mean Girl||

    KMW is the Pete Best of reason.com
    Also acceptable: the Curly Joe Howard.

  • ||

    You leave KMW alone. She is the Mary Ann of Reason.

  • ||

    One humane way of reducing population is to enact reforms that lead to everyone being so wealthy that couples have fewer than 2 kids on average.

    Of course the best way of doing that is increasing freedom and trade, which those types tend to be against.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Good point. But surprisingly, More people tends to be a good thing for everyone in a free country. Check out Julian Simon.

  • GMT II||

    I thought me wife's "kitty" was an endangered species, but I came home early yesterday and it looks like the pool boy found it.

  • Realist||

    Ooohhh don't worry, with dumb fucks like John and many others, the human population will decrease.

  • ||

    Yeah, getting to a reduced birth rate by increasing wealth is pretty self-defeating for an enviro-nutter, since they see increasing wealth as necessarily requiring environmental damage.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Don't forget stealing. Increased wealth is a combination of raping the earth and stealing somebody's slice of pie. The extent to which your success wasn't stolen from others is the extent to which stole your success from the environment. If you can prove that nobody lost pie because you made your own, then mother earth must have sustained an injury when you mugged her for the raw materials because loss and suffering is the raw material of success.

  • ||

    To be fair nature is always right. Nature will survive the worst of human decimation and revive without wolves, humans, water or air.
    Nature will destroy and regenerate without the consent or interference of a puny species unable to control its destiny as a species in its race to overpopulate the Earth.

  • whatthe||

    what I particularly enjoy about reading these comments is how quickly you all assume that the *only* method for curtailing population growth is through government intervention.

    do not assume that people cannot be convinced that an idea has merit through non-governmental methods. in fact, though I've yet to read the book, I'd imagine that the book in question was written with the explicit purpose to compel individuals to embrace the mindset espoused in those final, 'abrupt' passages. that is to say, to make a strong case for the reduction of the human population through self-directed means.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    "Suddenly it's man vs. beast all over again—with man defecting to the other side"

    The most brilliantly true thing I've ever heard from KMW.

  • Confederal_Republic||

    Look out, guys, you're all going to be killed by polar bears falling from the sky carried into the lower atmosphere by extreme tornadoes caused by the subsequent stages of anthropomorphic global warming.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111

  • nike shox||

    is good

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