To Save the Planet, Kill 90 Percent of People Off, Says UT Ecologist

At first, I thought someone was making a really stupid April Fool's joke, but apparently it is true that the Texas Distinguished Scientist of 2006, University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka told a meeting of the Texas Academy of Science that 90 percent of his fellow human beings must die in order to save the planet. A very disturbed Forrest M. Mims III -- Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, writing at The Citizen Scientist -- reported:

Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.

He then showed solutions for reducing the world's population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved.

Pianka then displayed a slide showing rows of human skulls, one of which had red lights flashing from its eye sockets.

AIDS is not an efficient killer, he explained, because it is too slow. His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world's population is airborne Ebola (Ebola Reston), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs.

After praising the Ebola virus for its efficiency at killing, Pianka paused, leaned over the lectern, looked at us and carefully said, "We've got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that."

The Seguin, Tex. Gazette-Enterprise also reported another recent doomsday talk by Pianka:

A University of Texas professor says the Earth would be better off with 90 percent of the human population dead.

"Every one of you who gets to survive has to bury nine," Eric Pianka cautioned students and guests at St. Edward's University on Friday. Pianka's words are part of what he calls his "doomsday talk" -- a 45-minute presentation outlining humanity's ecological misdeeds and Pianka's predictions about how nature, or perhaps humans themselves, will exterminate all but a fraction of civilization.

Though his statements are admittedly bold, he's not without abundant advocates. But what may set this revered biologist apart from other doomsday soothsayers is this: Humanity's collapse is a notion he embraces.

Indeed, his words deal, very literally, on a life-and-death scale, yet he smiles and jokes candidly throughout the lecture. Disseminating a message many would call morbid, Pianka's warnings are centered upon awareness rather than fear.

"This is really an exciting time," he said Friday amid warnings of apocalypse, destruction and disease. Only minutes earlier he declared, "Death. This is what awaits us all. Death." Reflecting on the so-called Ancient Chinese Curse, "May you live in interesting times," he wore, surprisingly, a smile.

So what's at the heart of Pianka's claim?

6.5 billion humans is too many.

In his estimation, "We've grown fat, apathetic and miserable," all the while leaving the planet parched.

The solution?

A 90 percent reduction.

That's 5.8 billion lives -- lives he says are turning the planet into "fat, human biomass." He points to an 85 percent swell in the population during the last 25 years and insists civilization is on the brink of its downfall -- likely at the hand of widespread disease.

"[Disease] will control the scourge of humanity," Pianka said. "We're looking forward to a huge collapse."

Professor Pianka is apparently a brilliant herpetologist, but like brilliant Stanford University entomologist Paul Ehrlich, who wrote The Population Bomb nearly 40 years ago, he is completely ignorant of economics and demography. Pianka might start alleviating his ignorance by reading some of the analyses by Jesse Ausubel, head of the Human Environment Program at Rockefeller University. Relying on human creativity and wealth creation, Ausubel foresees the 21st century as the beginning of the Great Restoration of the natural environment.

Admittedly, predicting a bright future for humanity and the planet has never made anybody rich or famous, but at least such forecasters have the satisfaction of knowing that they are right.

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  • Jeff P.||

    The left is fine with mass murder, as long as it serves the greater good and is ditributed fairly.

  • ||

    The left? What are you, loony? I've never heard anyone from the left suggest such a thing! Are you lying, joking or insane, Jeff?

    This is Right Wing Christian fantasy stuff here. The scary part is that they may just try it...

    JMJ

  • tomWright||

    To save humanity, kill off 90% of all university ecologists.

    Turn-about is fair play.

  • Timothy||

    Professor Pianka is apparently a brilliant herpetologist, but like brilliant Stanford University entomologist Paul Ehrlich who wrote The Population Bomb nearly 40 years ago, he is completely ignorant of economics and demography.

    Or the brilliant Thomas Malthus.

  • ||

    I guess that's why he donated money to the DNC mcidiot

  • ||

    "The left? What are you, loony? I've never heard anyone from the left suggest such a thing! Are you lying, joking or insane, Jeff?" posted by JMJ

    Haven't you ever see the "Save the Planet - Kill Yourself" bumperstickers? They are usually placed somewhere between the "Go Vegan" and "Don't Blame Me - I Voted for Kerry" stickers.

  • ||

    Pianka wants to do a reciprocal of a decimation.
    That would shiver the timbers even of Julius Caesar.

  • ||

    So I guess driving a hybrid ain't gonna cut it?

  • ||

    To Save the Planet, Kill 90 Percent of People Off

    After having to drive downtown on the Dan Ryan this morning, I'm tempted to subscribe to this guy's newsletter....

  • VM||

    Jeff P:

    that reminds me of some Austrian "scholar" whose "radical, brilliant ideas" include advocating elimination of humans from the planet - to save the planet, of course.

    in an early 2004 interview with him on the state-run radio, ORF, he was introduced as one of the "foremost intellectuals". and this dude was about as lefty as... um. a lefty (kicks pebble)

    but as for who has the worst scorecard (lefties or righties), i'd say it's pretty much of a disgusting, statist toss off. um. toss *up*.

    cheers

  • ||

    That's absurd. Doomsday-worshipping is far more common among the religious right than the vegan left.

    Frankly, the argument that mankind is miserable sounds like they are projecting their own unhappiness. They should kill themselves rather than plot the deaths of everyone else.

  • ||

    "A very disturbed Forrest M. Mims III"

    I'd be disturbed too if my name was Forrest M. Mims III.

  • ||

    So a guy advocates wiping out 90% of humanity, and the response is to aruge whether he is a right or left winger. Pathetic.

  • ||

    I ignore anyone who won't follow his own advice.

  • ||

    at least such forecasters have the satisfaction of knowing that they are right.

    they have the added satisfaction of not necessarily being elitist dicks. This guy is obviously expecting he belongs in the anointed 10%.

  • ||

    "So I guess driving a hybrid ain't gonna cut it?
    Comment by: WSDave at April 3, 2006 12:25 PM"

    Actually, driving a hybrid may be the way to go - create massive Smug Storms in urban centers around the country, wait for the Smug Fronts to collide with Cloonies Oscar speech, and the end result is mass destruction and the deaths of millions, hence alleviating the dual problems of overpopulation and self-righteousness (not to mention people who love the smell of their own farts).

    Cheers!

  • ||

    Fear Not.

    Intelligent Design and academic freedom advocate William Dembski is on the case and has reported him to DHS.

  • ||

    I don't know about you, but I don't dig quickly enough to bury 9 people before they start to really stink. I suppose you could burn them all, but 5.6 billion smoldering corpses would would make the entire atmosphere smell like burnt hair. I hate that smell.

  • ||

    Instead of arguing over which camp has to take responsibility for this nut, why not just agree that he doesn't fit in with either camp? I mean, say what you will about the left and right, but I can't think of a strong pro-Ebola contingent on either side. Well, unless you count him, but then we have to figure out which camp to put him in.

    I'd say we should send him to the one with padded walls and jackets that let you give yourslef a hug.

  • ||

    Instead of arguing over which camp has to take responsibility for this nut, why not just agree that he doesn't fit in with either camp? I mean, say what you will about the left and right, but I can't think of a strong pro-Ebola contingent on either side. Well, unless you count him, but then we have to figure out which camp to put him in.

    I'd say we should send him to the one with padded walls and jackets that let you give yourslef a hug.

    BTW, with regard to Ron Bailey's points:

    There's a huge difference between Ehrlich and Pianka. One of them thinks that an Ebola plague would be awesome. The other one doesn't.

  • ||

    Frankly, the argument that mankind is miserable sounds like they are projecting their own unhappiness. They should kill themselves rather than plot the deaths of everyone else.

    Hear Hear! I have playstation, nachos and squeezy cheese = everlasting and existential happiness.

    From now on, anyone who complains about the 'ecological state of mother earth' should be made to swallow a car tyre.

  • ||

    Yep, there are way too many brown and yellow people in the world, and not enough nice white folk like me. Jeez.

    Anti-population is, of course, fundamentally racist, but it's also anti-intellectual. It presumes we aren't smart enough to solve this problem, one, and two, it requires the death of a lot of potentially smart humans who may have grown up to invent new technology and techniques to reduce pollution or take future population to other habitats, planets, L5 colonies, etc.

  • ||

    Hooray for tenure!

  • ||

    Is there a term in the scientific community equivalent to calling someone a "troll"?

  • R C Dean||

    the Earth as we know it will not survive

    Wow - the entire planet will just vaporize and disappear?

  • ||

    I could never understand the whole "save Earth from humanity" mentality. Honestly, what we do really doesn't make a difference to Earth. If humanity wiped itself out by wreaking havoc with the environment, the Earth would eventually get well again. It may take 10,000 years, but that's a drop in the bucket for a planet.

    It's one thing to say that we should try not to mess with the environment or even that our negligence may destroy humanity, but to act like it matters to the Earth is just silly. The Earth will be just fine no matter what we do, it's the people that we should be worried about.

  • ||

    I was hoping that common sense would dictate that as the human race came to resource capacity or overload on this planet, there would be a demand for more living space and better food source, which would lead to the development of 2 things: Food pellets and space travel.

    JMJ: I figured it was the whole environmentalism aspect that ties this to the left. I believe the "Right Wing Christian fantasy stuff" would be if they didn't think it would matter because Christ would come again so would do nothing, except yell I guess.

    Or, backing away from "Left-Right" nonsense, I don't think this fits into either convenient category and is just kooky.

  • ||

    I think it is an open issue as to whether Pianka's predictions or Ausubell's predictions will prove to be the true ones.

    I am puzzled as to why anyone from the most prestigious Rockefeller University scientist to the lowliest HnR troll would think they knew the answer to a question as large and complex as humanity's future on Earth.

    If evolution is the be-all and end-all of morality as some would have it (lookin' at you, Pinker), then Pianka has the moral high ground. Both sides have way too much faith. neither side has enuf . . .

  • VM||

    "Is there a term in the scientific community equivalent to calling someone a "troll"?

    Comment by: Ken Shultz at April 3, 2006 01:08 PM"

    visiting professor...

  • Jim Anderson||

    Why take Mims' breathless reportage at face value? He sounds equally as nutty. Wes Elsberry has more.

  • ||

  • ||

    Look, I love the Earth, wish it well, and would like to stay here indefinitely, but if it really comes down to choosing the Earth or humanity. . .I'm siding with humanity.

    JMJ, right-wing, Christian environmentalist wackjobs? Is that something new from the last ten minutes? The guy who said this is almost certainly neither particularly Christian or at all right-wing. Evil isn't the monopoly of any political creed, I fear.

  • Jeff P.||

    Thank you Tom.
    I meant my comment as a joke ("distributed fairly," c'mon people!), but I do place the mass murder trope squarely on left academia and the monsters it has spawned.
    The right is more about letting people kill themselves, but not too quickly cuz they still need a viable workforce...

    Besides, the Democrats are so disorganized right now that I doubt they could manage to deploy a Federal Plague Policy without screwing up, losing most of the vials, and keeping poor records. The only folks who'd end up dead would be the surviving members of Clinton's cabinet.

    I wonder how this guy stands on the solution of 90% of the race leaving the planet.

  • ||

    Link to Pianka's website.

    Not only is he a doomsday apologist, his HTML skills are frelling terrible.

  • Jeff P.||

    The most effective way to take out 90% is Captain Trips.

    I'll mett y'all in Vegas.

  • ||

    I've had professors who couched their ideas so as to get a rise out of Freshman at 9 AM, too.

    TomWright, love the circular logic - genocidists are lefties, because all of these examples of genocidists are leftist. We know they're leftist, because they're genocidists.

  • ||

    Jeff-First, I need to visit this kindly old black lady in Iowa.

  • ||

    I'll mett y'all in Vegas.

    Don't forget your 4 Million SPF sunblock!

    :-D

  • ||

    predicting a bright future for humanity and the planet has never made anybody rich or famous...

    I dunno, I suppose it worked for Norman Vincent Peale in a way.

  • ||

    Aside from the obvious lunacy, I can never understand with these nuts, of what value is an "earth" who's existence requires the slaughter of 90% of human occupants? ie, let's say his argument is true, why would I want to save it? Who is he trying to convince? What's the target audience? Only 10% of all people?

  • ||

    I just want to know: when did these lefty/righty partisan loser fuckheads start posting here, and when will they leave?

  • ||

    "What's the target audience? Only 10% of all people?"

    L. Ron Hubbard managed to make a killing on far less than 10% of the population.

  • ||

    Here is a more indepth article.

    http://story.seguingazette.com/drudge.html

    There seems to be 2 points on this topic.

    One is that he thinks we have overpopulated the earth. Which seems to be more of a qualitative rather than quantitative analysis.

    The other is the mechanism which which will drive humans to near extinction (which is a common occurence here on earth. There have been 6(?) massive extinctions in earth's history).

    He thinks it will probably be a mutated strain of the Ebola Zaire virus that wipes out most of humanity.

  • ||

    In addition to Jim Anderson's 1:12, you might also want to check here and here before getting your panties all in a bunch.

    R C Dean: Wow - the entire planet will just vaporize and disappear?

    Uh, yeah, pretty much, if the current theories of stellar evolution are correct.

  • ||

    independent worm,

    What about all of these libertarians? They've got a lot of nerve coming around here and spouting the usual tripe about liberty, free markets, and similar nonsense. Fools.

  • ||

    I think Ebola Reston is the wrong variety of Ebola. That subtype has only killed monkies so far. According to the WHO "Human infection with the Ebola Reston subtype, found in the Western Pacific, has only caused asymptomatic illness, meaning that those who contract the disease do not experience clinical illness." I think he means the Za�re, Sudan or C�te d�Ivoire varieties.

  • ||

    "Aside from the obvious lunacy, I can never understand with these nuts, of what value is an "earth" who's existence requires the slaughter of 90% of human occupants? ie, let's say his argument is true, why would I want to save it? Who is he trying to convince? What's the target audience? Only 10% of all people?"

    His target audience is 10% of all humans, plus all of the cuddly ol' monitor lizards and cute wittle black mambo snakes. He IS the "Lizard Man", after all.

  • ||

    I just want to know: when did these lefty/righty partisan loser fuckheads start posting here, and when will they leave?

    We all start somewhere--let's make 'em feel welcome.

  • ||

    So, Reason is now reposting the viewpoints of creationists?

    This sounds like a pretty whimsical talk done in a fairly silly way... that was easy to reframe as some sort of genocidal plot. Dembski called the Dept. of Homeland Security about this for goodness sakes. This is a PR push for anti-science types, and guess what: reason should not be standing with them.

  • ||

    This is Right Wing Christian fantasy stuff here.

    How many "Right Wing Christians" do you run into who care about saving the environment, much less killing people off to do so?

    Sloppy.

    Instead of arguing over which camp has to take responsibility for this nut, why not just agree that he doesn't fit in with either camp? I mean, say what you will about the left and right, but I can't think of a strong pro-Ebola contingent on either side.

    There are some pretty nutty "deep green" types who hold the view that 90% of humans should be wiped out - or at least that 90% of humans dying off wouldn't be a bad thing. They seem to consider themselves quite left wing.

    Or do we just dump all the really nuts and evil people from the political spectrum? Fascists, communists, deep green-ers, "bring back death by stoning for disobedient children" types, etc?

  • ||

    1. I'm with Thoreau: 'left' and 'right' only apply to opinions that have some remote chance of being enacted. Advocates for mass murder or death are just lunatics. I'm sure he arrived at his convictions through a long trek leftward, but he abandoned the reasonable lefties a long time ago. Put him in the same file as Hal Lindsay, who also believes most of humanity is doomed within his lifetime, that such is a good idea, but arrived at his convictions by wandering in the desert on the right side of the aisle.

    2. On the merits of his argument: please introduce him to Mark Steyn, who suggested in the November or December "New Criterion" that Europe was hopeless because white European women didn't have enough babies, and the Muslims were going to take over by outbreeding the nice white people. Steyn's argument seems to be that European women should give up their social gains now so that they can avoid having Sharia imposed in fifty years. It's certainly not as reprehensible as advocating mass murder, but it's still a pretty repulsive argument.

    3. It's perfectly possible to favor protecting the natural world and preserving wilderness without being an antisocial nutcase. It is also possible to believe that European desparately low birthrates signify a problem without believing in The Turbaned Peril. It is even possible to believe that both propositions have merit and still not be in favor of restrictive statist policies to address said problems.

    Conclusion: This guy is a nutcase. The worst thing we can do to him is to ignore him.

  • ||

    Evan,

    Lizard Man or Lizard King?

  • lunchstealer||

    I'm not suprised to hear that Mimms has issues.

    Pianka's is pretty standard ivory-tower crankery. Lots of environmental scientists want the damn proles to stop getting in the way of their work. This is their real motivation. They see habitat destruction, and think of it as one more place where they can't study things without 'human impact' making the science messy.

    It's best not to take them too seriously.

  • ||

    ivory-tower crankery

    Those elitists and their ideas! Don't listen to their latte-swilling ideas!

  • ||

    I'll point out that the original articles and Mims especially are slightly overstating what Pianka actually said there and has said:

    If humans do not control their own population (and we seem unwilling and unable to do so), then other forces will certainly act to control our population. The four horseman of the apocalypse (conquest, war, famine, and death) are all candidates. Most likely, lethal virulent microbes like HIV and Ebola zaire will set limits on the growth of human populations. HIV, by allowing infected hosts to survive years while they spread the virus and infect new hosts, has already become a pandemic, but it will be years before it decimates the human population. Although Ebola kills 9 out of 10 people, outbreaks have so far been unable to become epidemics because they are currently spread only by direct physical contact with infected blood. However, a closely related virus that kills monkeys, Ebola reston, is airborne, and it is only a matter of time until Ebola zaire evolves the capacity to be airborne.

  • ||

    I'll point out that the original articles and Mims especially are slightly overstating what Pianka actually said there and has said:

    If humans do not control their own population (and we seem unwilling and unable to do so), then other forces will certainly act to control our population. The four horseman of the apocalypse (conquest, war, famine, and death) are all candidates. Most likely, lethal virulent microbes like HIV and Ebola zaire will set limits on the growth of human populations. HIV, by allowing infected hosts to survive years while they spread the virus and infect new hosts, has already become a pandemic, but it will be years before it decimates the human population. Although Ebola kills 9 out of 10 people, outbreaks have so far been unable to become epidemics because they are currently spread only by direct physical contact with infected blood. However, a closely related virus that kills monkeys, Ebola reston, is airborne, and it is only a matter of time until Ebola zaire evolves the capacity to be airborne.

  • ||

    Re: Left/Right...

    A homicidal statist is a homicidal statist is a homicidal statist...

  • ||

    Halcyon:

    According to this first-person account of a speech he gave, your "offical" quote above is merely a tame version of what he has been publicly advocating. Maybe Mimms exaggerated in this account, but even still, I don't know how you make that up. He gave some pretty definitive statements.

  • ||

    Somebody should send Prof. Mims a copy of Rainbow Six.

  • ||

    Uh, hello? The first person account is from Mimms. Mimms who has a big anti-science ax to grind. This is a PR push, and you're the sucker in this game.

  • ||

    Why only 90%? I would think that 100% human removal would be far more effective than allowing 10% to repopulate. I mean, look what Noah and family did after the great flood and this guy wants to leave 6 million people? What an asshat.

  • ||

    Yeah, Plunge, except if you read the comments of a number of other bloggers and commenters, they're pretty much backing up what Mimms has said.

    Mimms' right-wing, Creationist and presumably pro-rapture outlook makes him just as much of a crank as Pianka.

    For probably the best example of this, Click here and scroll down to the entry for March 9 wherein someone who believes what Pianka is advocating says pretty much what Mimms has said.

    Damn evidence, if you ask me.

  • ||

    http://austringer.net/wp/?p=253

    So is Bailey going to update this story, or what?

  • ||

    Somebody needs to explain to Mims that warning that something may happen is not the same thing as advocating that thing.

    But if we are going to have to axe 90% of the population, could we please start with anybody who things that a two-dimensional spectrum ranging from "left" to "right" is a useful way to categorize every political debate?

  • ||

    Sorry, but read the rest. The view that the ecology would be better off without so many humans is wrong, but it isn't the same thing as advocating killing them. The leftist wangling over population is the sort of hip airy nonsense befitting college-students, but taking it seriously, and screaming about it as if it were the latest terrorist threat, is simply stunning in its tone-deafness. What conclusion does the blogger come to? Genocide? No: the old silly liberal hobby-horse of "more education, which probably won't do any good. Woe is me! Now, what's on Tv tonight!"

    So again, give me a break.

  • R C Dean||

    Steyn's argument seems to be that European women should give up their social gains now so that they can avoid having Sharia imposed in fifty years.

    Except Steyn argues no such thing, of course. Steyn does argue that the combination of (a) sub-replacement birth rates on the one hand, and (b) open borders and multiculturalism on the other, tend pretty strongly to the conclusion that European culture is a dinosaur on its way to the tar pit, with the only successor in view being whatever the aggressively breeding and proselytizing Muslims come up with.

  • lunchstealer||

    latte-swilling ideas!

    Dunno if you've seen his picture, but if he drinks anything, it's probably Folgers in the morning and Lone Star in the evening. Practitioners of the various 'field sciences' (geology, geophysics, botany, zoology, etc) are a rougher, tougher bunch than your social scientists (humanities majors who think they look cool in a lab coat).

  • ||

    Even if against all reason we were to accept that Professor Nutjob is correct about what will happen if we don't reduce our numbers, why does the solution have to be killing, as opposed to, say, relocation? (Especially since the goal here is human survival.) Putting a bunch of people on Mars, which we might be able to do in a few decades were that our primary mission as a people, along with some strict laws governing reproduction, would help alleviate the "problem" by delaying its worst effects until we find a "solution." It may turn out that there is no solution, but at least let's find that out first before we slaughter millions.

    In fact, I would offer up "make sure you are right before you slaughter millions" is a pretty good guideline in general.

  • ||

    is = as

  • ||

    Ethan, again, he does not seem to be advocating the slaughter of millions so much as warning that the earth will somehow come up with a sort of antibody against the overload of humans on the earth. I find his argument unpersuasive, but it's not the same thing as offering killing as a solution.

  • Timothy||

    But if we are going to have to axe 90% of the population, could we please start with anybody who things that a two-dimensional spectrum ranging from "left" to "right" is a useful way to categorize every political debate?

    I demand that my political spectra be at least five dimensional.

  • ||

    "I would think that 100% human removal would be far more effective than allowing 10% to repopulate. I mean, look what Noah and family did after the great flood and this guy wants to leave 6 million people?"

    *Psst* 10% of 6 billion would be 600 million.

  • ||

    I second Kwix's motion. What the hell good is killing 90%? Due to the massive overabundance of food in such a post-apocalyptic world, we'd just repopulate the earth. This is the culture we call "Civilization". It will always result in the same basic scenario: living at the very edge of our means; our species population is only as big as the food and support mechanisms allow. So the void would be refilled again. It would take time, but, at the scale that Pianka is talking about, it's about right. So, you have a couple different solutions that would get the result Pianka is advocating for: 1) kill off every human being, or 2) figure out a new way to live, a new cultural meme.

    Pianka needs to read a little bit of Dan Quinn. He also needs to check out the population graphs, and confront the fact that population growth has been levelling off. Killing 90% of humans is only a temporary "solution".

  • ||

    I've been reading about this guy on a number of science blogs and websites, and I don't see anything that convinces me that Pianka WANTS 90% of the human race to die. I just don't see that at all. What he's saying seems to be more like "you guys better watch it or bad stuff is gonna happen." And everyone is screaming their heads off like he's making death threats and holding a super-poison bottle over the community well.

    Well, telling the truth has never been popular, has it now? Kill the messenger, that's what I hear on most of this comment thread.

  • ||

    It's always nice to see "reason" serving as a transmission factor for creationist memes.

  • Captain Holly||

    Most likely, lethal virulent microbes like HIV and Ebola zaire will set limits on the growth of human populations. HIV, by allowing infected hosts to survive years while they spread the virus and infect new hosts, has already become a pandemic, but it will be years before it decimates the human population.

    I hate to rain on Prof. Pianka's parade, but at the current rates of infection HIV will never decimate any country's population, not even South Africa's.

    But one can dream, right?

    Although Ebola kills 9 out of 10 people, outbreaks have so far been unable to become epidemics because they are currently spread only by direct physical contact with infected blood. However, a closely related virus that kills monkeys, Ebola reston, is airborne, and it is only a matter of time until Ebola zaire evolves the capacity to be airborne.

    And in the process of becoming airborne it will probably become more like Ebola reston.

    There are no "super bugs"; virus particles can only hold so many genes inside them. Becoming stable enough to survive in UV light and an oxygen-rich environment probably would come at the cost of being able to rapidly replicate.

    It's an evolutionary trade-off that will some day become obvious to those parents who try to clone a "super-kid".

  • Captain Holly||

    What he's saying seems to be more like "you guys better watch it or bad stuff is gonna happen."

    And how is that any different than what some doomsday Evangelicals are saying?

    Evangelicals are warning of amorphous Biblical disasters wrought by a vengeful God on His wayward and recalicitrant children.

    Pianka is warning of specific natural disasters wrought by a vengeful Gaia on Her wayward and recalcitrant children.

  • ||

    And how is that any different than what some doomsday Evangelicals are saying?

    Well my mom was a doomsday fundie before she died, and I could tell the difference between when she said, "You better watch where you're driving or you'll end up in the ditch," and, "You and your boyfriend better get married or you're going to wind up in Hell." One was, in other words, reality-based and had to do with rational logical consequences, and the other was a lunatic religious statement she learned in church.

  • ||

    Mediageek,

    Even if one can find bloggers who advocate what Pianka is *alleged* to have said, that is quite different from knowing if Pianka himself did say those things.

    Given that the TAS is now receiving death threats related to the award and Pianka's alleged statements, Mims' paraphrasing isn't enough.

    In the thread you linked to- 3 weeks old- a William Elsberry asked if anyone had evidence that Mims' summary was accurate. I saw no reply on that thread. The question is worth repeating- where are the non-Mims, non-single-newspaper accounts of this lecture?

    As an aside, is Martin Rees advocating for the death of humanity? How about Richard Preston? Or Stephen King and writers of post-apocalyptic science fiction? I've read many accounts of mass extinction, some including details on how humanity might cope afterwards. I've never thought that these writings mean that the author is actively advocating for extinction.

    Even a "I told you, I warned you, and you didn't listen" attitude isn't at all the same as advocating for a disaster. The doctors warning about the now very problematic MRSA (resistant staph infections) weren't themselves making MRSA.

  • ||

    I think people are reading the article without reading the Professor's ideas.

    Letting people think for you is always the easiest solution.

  • ||

    "Even if one can find bloggers who advocate what Pianka is *alleged* to have said, that is quite different from knowing if Pianka himself did say those things."

    Which only makes it even more peculiar that Pianka would require them to stop video taping the event.

  • ||

    "Even if one can find bloggers who advocate what Pianka is *alleged* to have said, that is quite different from knowing if Pianka himself did say those things."

    Which only makes it even more peculiar that Pianka would require them to stop video taping the event.

    Or, if Mimms was lying about that as well, we should see an uploaded video of the presentation toot sweet.

  • ||

    I am not saying that killing 90% of the human race is a good thing.

    But if it is going to happen, I think AIDS/Ebola and the other ideas are lacking.

    I think the best scenario is a ZOMBIE doomsday scenario. I have watched about 5 Zombie movies in the last two weeks or so, and I think that I am ready for this event.

    If any of y'all can make it over to my house in Reno NV, I have guns and ammo to share. Send me and email and I'll let you know where the hida key is.

  • ||

    "Which only makes it even more peculiar that Pianka would require them to stop video taping the event."

    Why? Mims is a nutjob with an axe to grind: a guy who the Scientific American decided not to hire after his anti-science writings came to light, but who then claimed that he had been "fired" and discriminated against. Once you know that someone like that is out for you, and drudge, reason and the usual credulous knee-jerk suspects are going to jump into the fray on your reputation, why invite more attention?

  • ||

    I am not saying that killing 90% of the human race is a good thing.

    But if it is going to happen, I think AIDS/Ebola and the other ideas are lacking.

    I think the best scenario is a ZOMBIE doomsday scenario. I have watched about 5 Zombie movies in the last two weeks or so, and I think that I am ready for this event.

    If any of y'all can make it over to my house in Reno NV, I have guns and ammo to share. Send me and email and I'll let you know where the hida key is.

  • ||

    I am not saying that killing 90% of the human race is a good thing.

    But if it is going to happen, I think AIDS/Ebola and the other ideas are lacking.

    I think the best scenario is a ZOMBIE doomsday scenario. I have watched about 5 Zombie movies in the last two weeks or so, and I think that I am ready for this event.

    If any of y'all can make it over to my house in Reno NV, I have guns and ammo to share. Send me and email and I'll let you know where the hida key is.

  • ||

    The fact is that the earth has had fewer than 6 billion people. As recently as 1900 there were under a billion and no one percieved any lack of people. Maybe we won't die off in a massive catastrophe and maybe we will. All I really care about is me and mine. Frankly if everyone I know was going to die, then why not everyone else at the same time? Why should I care? People say the only reason they care about earth is for humanity's sake. Its probably more accurate to say you only care about the earth for your own sake or for the sake of a few chosen others. I am assuming that this site isn't a hotbed of altruism.

    Frankly a 5 billion dead probably would make for some good tv, if we could keep tv going on a skeleton crew.

    I didn't see anywhere where this prof was proposing to actively distribute ebola blankets. I also didn't see where he thought he would survive. Describing him as elitist is the worst kind of projecting.

    You people need to relax. If this is how you react to a blog post, imagine how hard you will find it to survive the ebola plague.

  • Captain Holly||

    One was, in other words, reality-based and had to do with rational logical consequences, and the other was a lunatic religious statement she learned in church.

    But it's not reality based, nor is it based on "rational, logical consequences". It's based on a flawed -- some would say bigoted -- view of humanity.

    Neo-Malthusians such as Erlich and Pianka assume humans to be no different than any other animal. In their view, we're just a herd of hyper-intelligent monkeys; eventually Mother Nature will give us our comeuppance.

    However, humans are not just like any other animal: We have the capability of rational thought, and can modify our environment to suit our needs. Thus a viral epidemic, while a frightening possibility, will not have the same effect on humans as it would on a bloated herd of gazelles or a over-sized pack of chimpanzees.

    We can think. We can reason. We can use our opposable thumbs to make all sorts of wonderful things, such as vaccines and alcohol swabs and particle masks. HIV has not been the horrible slate-wiper that many feared (or were hoping for) because most people who learned enough about it decided it wasn't a good idea to screw 500 anonymous persons every year and modified their behavior accordingly.

    I would argue that your mother's attempt to manipulate your sexual mores by warning of Hell and Damnation is no different than Prof. Pianka's attempt to manipulate your economic choices by warning of death and destruction.

  • ||

    "Why?"

    Because if there's a scientist, ostensibly at a conference with the goal of disseminating information, it strikes me as utterly strange that he would require what would arguably be the most successful method of spreading his ideas be shut off.

    "Mims is a nutjob with an axe to grind: a guy who the Scientific American decided not to hire after his anti-science writings came to light, but who then claimed that he had been "fired" and discriminated against."

    And perhaps you'd like to point out the post I've made disputing this?

    "Once you know that someone like that is out for you, and drudge, reason and the usual credulous knee-jerk suspects are going to jump into the fray on your reputation, why invite more attention?"

    I've never even heard of this guy before today, so I'd be hard pressed to be stereotyped as a "credulous knee-jerk suspect" out to impugn Pianka's reputation.

    Seems to me that a digitized video of the entire affair would lay to rest this entire thing. But instead, Pianka deliberately circumvented that, which means that the only account of the presentation we have to go on is one presented by someone as arguably nutty as Pianka himself.

  • ||

    Regardless, it would seem that Pianka, assuming he is indeed taking glee at the thought of a mass human die-off, has really nothing noteworthy or scientific to produce. He's simply using his street cred as a Herpetologist to get a podium where he can do the crotchety old man dance.

    Nevermind that most of the Paul Ehrlich/Malthusian stuff he seems to buy into is bullshit.

  • ||

    It is hard to just ignore this moron as a crank for three reasons. First, we live under the threat (albeit remote I hope) that there really might be some kind of pandemic that wipes out 90% of the population. To hear this clown advocating such a result in light of its real possibility is very scary. Second, we live in a world in which a terrorist, spreading Ebola, anthrax or otherwise is also a real possibility. Chances are this guy is just some ivory tower dumb ass, but what if he is not? What if he is serious and if someone presented him with the opportunity to try to bring such a result about, bio-terrorism and the like, he wouldn't do it? If he did, we would sure fell pretty stupid after he walked around for years and advocated it and no one did anything to stop him. Third, how does this guy have a job at any university, let alone a public one? I know the answer to that, which is nothing short of overt patriotism is really beyond the pale to our corrupt universities, but advocating the murder of 90% of the human race ought to get your ass run out on a rail tenure or not. It is a sad state of affairs when we allow someone this deranged to teach at an allegedly prestigious university.

  • ||

    Well Mediageek, when the ebola plague comes and you can't even drive away from it because of peak oil, those of us with foresight will have the last laugh. We will all emerge from our bunkers and survivalist camps and battle one another Road Warrior style over water and/or oil, depending on which scenario actually plays out (I have full faith in both of them).

    I've already made preparations for the end times. Bascically I've set aside several sexy leather outfits suitable for armegeddon, both assless and assfull so that I can dress weather appropriate.

  • ||

    What was the mortality rate of the Black Death?

    Is your first reaction "33 percent"?

    We usually remember the 1/3 figure because that's the most common estimate of total deaths in Europe. But the plague didn't hit everywhere in Europe, and its known to have hit Asia first.

    For China, I've read estimates of 1/2 to 2/3rds of the population dying. In some areas the death rate was 90% (entire villages disappearing).

    If another disease with a 50%+ mortality rate came, nowadays we have vaccines, masks, and fairly fast reverse engineering. SARS took about 30 days, as I recall. But 600 years ago we did die horribly, so horribly that we today don't know how bad it was because all the potential storytellers died. All those lost great-great-nth-aunts and uncles died with the same hands and brains that we have today. The difference today is our science and our medical tools.

    As for Pianka and this thread, I'm reminded of two types of preachers- where both types go into gory details of how painful hell will be. One type of preacher goes into the details out of a genuine fear that without enought warnings, unbelievers he knows will end up in hell. The other type of preacher has a vile glee that people he knows are likely to be going there. Can't always tell what type of preacher he is just by listening to the hellfire lecture.

  • ||

    That is the funniest goddamn thing I have read in a good long time.

    I really love the slideshow images, and wish he would put it up on a website somewhere so the whole world might gain from his altruistic sociopathology.

    Thanks.

  • ||

    That is the funniest goddamn thing I have read in a good long time.

    I really love the slideshow images, and wish he would put it up on a website somewhere so the whole world might gain from his altruistic sociopathology.

    Thanks.

  • Gene Berkman||

    As mentioned previously, the post @ http://brenmccnnll.blogspot.com/2006/03/dr.html seems to verify the contents of the talk as being in favor of massive kill-off of the human race.

    It also mentions that Dr Pianka thought the Chinese policy of allowing a single child per family is right. At Dr Piaka's website, there is an obituary for the Doctor that mentions he leaves behind two daughters and two ex-wives, so he discovered the virtue of population control a little late.

  • ||

    No one has to die (right now). Just sterilize 95% of the population and wait 80 years. Patience is the key.

  • ||

    "We've got quite a match for you tonight on Crank Fight.
    In the left corner, we have neo-Malthusian misanthrope and noted herpetologist, Eric "The Lizard" Piaaaaanka!!!
    On the right, we have promenent creati, ahem, I mean Intelligent Design advocate and mediocre mathematician, the irreducibly complex William Dembskiiiiiii!!!
    Ok, gentlemen, lets have a good clean fight - no logical fallicies or hitting below the belt. Return to your corners and come out sounding unhinged."

  • ||

    I'd be disturbed too if my name was Forrest M. Mims III.

    He's the marvelous, magnificent, mad madame Mims! The Third!

    Ok, now that I got that out of the way, I just have to agree with Kwais. Just saw Shaun of the Dead. Highly plausible.

  • amazingdrx||

    Start with the neo-conservatives, neo-libertarians, and neo-liberals. Kill the head of the snake, corpoRATism, and the body will die.

    Problem solved. The rest of us can work together to save the planet.

  • ||

    I don't think he's a doctor. I think amazingdrx stands for amazing-dick-rot-x. (x stands for every possible STD.) The diseases have obviously made it to his (ever so tiny) brain.

  • ||

    I am not so sure. If Ebola or some other disease with its potential were to begin raging across the planet, would the good professor advise that we do nothing about it? It seems so. He may even advocate that we take steps to assist in its spread. After all, it's the only way the planet will survive.

    "Helping a disease along so as to kill off virutally all humans" and "the slaughter of millions"--what's the difference again?

  • ||

    THIS should go above what I wrote just above:

    Ethan, again, he does not seem to be advocating the slaughter of millions so much as warning that the earth will somehow come up with a sort of antibody against the overload of humans on the earth. I find his argument unpersuasive, but it's not the same thing as offering killing as a solution.

  • ||

    Wow, Reason got burned. Or, more accurately, Ron Bailey got burned, and a couple dozen of you eagerly followed him over the cliff.

    Ooh, Ron Bailey reported something horrible about environmentalists! I think we can take him at his word. We all JUST KNOW that environmentalists and college professors want a massive extinction of humanity - that's why they loved the Soviet Union, doncha know, because of the mass murders - and now we done found one who said so.

    Long live truthiness! Long live gullibility!

  • ||

    Ron didn't get burned. He's never wrong. It's all an eco-conspiracy I tells ya!

  • ||

    SO, to re-cap the thread...

    mediageek gets the "No BS" award for most accurate statement from this thread:

    "Re: Left/Right... A homicidal statist is a homicidal statist is a homicidal statist..." - mediageek

    (But it's still fun to watch joe squirm when people point out that his side of the aisle is responsible for bringing industrial revolution techniques to crank out the bodies at a higher rate than even the Aztecs were capable of...)

    kwais gets the "Omega Man" award for the scenario most likely to have a post-apocalyptic world in which Charlton Heston is Supreme Leader, with Ash as his #1:

    "I think the best scenario is a ZOMBIE doomsday scenario. I have watched about 5 Zombie movies in the last two weeks or so, and I think that I am ready for this event.

    If any of y'all can make it over to my house in Reno NV, I have guns and ammo to share. Send me and email and I'll let you know where the hida key is." - kwais

    I'm with you, kwais. I've got my boom-stick and chainsaw ready to rock... "Hail to the King, baby!" Heh...

    mediageek wins the "Ward Churchill" award for most accurate description of older academics who lose their marbles:

    "He's simply using his street cred as a Herpetologist to get a podium where he can do the crotchety old man dance." - mediageek

  • ||

    SO, to re-cap the thread...

    mediageek gets the "No BS" award for most accurate statement from this thread:

    "Re: Left/Right... A homicidal statist is a homicidal statist is a homicidal statist..." - mediageek

    (But it's still fun to watch joe squirm when people point out that his side of the aisle is responsible for bringing industrial revolution techniques to crank out the bodies at a higher rate than even the Aztecs were capable of...)

    kwais gets the "Omega Man" award for the scenario most likely to have a post-apocalyptic world in which Charlton Heston is Supreme Leader, with Ash as his #1:

    "I think the best scenario is a ZOMBIE doomsday scenario. I have watched about 5 Zombie movies in the last two weeks or so, and I think that I am ready for this event.

    If any of y'all can make it over to my house in Reno NV, I have guns and ammo to share. Send me and email and I'll let you know where the hida key is." - kwais

    I'm with you, kwais. I've got my boom-stick and chainsaw ready to rock... "Hail to the King, baby!" Heh...

    mediageek wins the "Ward Churchill" award for most accurate description of older academics who lose their marbles:

    "He's simply using his street cred as a Herpetologist to get a podium where he can do the crotchety old man dance." - mediageek

  • ||

    >That's absurd. Doomsday-worshipping is far more common among the religious right than the vegan left

    The vegan left just worships a different doomsday; an ecological one. You do know that veganism is a religion, don't ya?

  • Wesley R. Elsberry||

    Actually, I have gotten a response from an attendee of the TAS lecture, Kathryn Perez:

    Hi, I was also at Dr. Pianka�s talk at the Texas Academy of Science meeting and came away with a very different impression of his talk that did Mim�s. I think my impression was in the majority judging by the standing ovation given to Dr. Pianka by ~400 fellow scientists. Following is an email I just received asking for my support in censuring Dr. Pianka. I am amazed by the vitriolic intensity of this letter and I would like to emphasize that Mim�s has blantantly and dishonestly mischaracterized Dr. Pianka�s statements.

    Her comment was entered in this thread.

  • Thorley Winston||

    Wesley,

    The Sequin Gazette also posted a transcript of Pianka's actual remarks. Needless to say the actual transcript supports Dr. Perez's account rather than Mims. Unfortunately by the time most people read what Pianka actually said, Mims' distortion will have already made its rounds throughout the blogosphere.

    You can read the transcript either by clicking on my name or pasting this URL into your browser:

    http://seguingazette.com/story.lasso?tool=print&ewcd=3817403731ee3d74

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