"You have been warned: green fascism could soon be on the march."

|

So writes New Scientist reporter Fred Pearce at his Fred's Footprint blog. Pearce is worried that ideological environmentalism might once again embrace coercive population control. Pearce knows whereof he speaks:

… the unpalatable truth is that a lot of environmental thinking over the past half century has been underpinned by an unhealthy preoccupation with the breeding propensity of Asians and Africans.

They were, it was often held, polluting the human gene pool as well as the planet. Such thinking was not fringe: it involved some of the great names of the environment movement.

So the American academic Garrett Hardin said in his classic and still-revered environment text Tragedy of the Commons in 1968, "Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all." It must be "relinquished to preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms." Lest we have any doubt who should do the relinquishing, he wrote elsewhere about how college students should have more children than those with low IQs.

Or take Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb from the same era. That book said the world could no longer feed itself and called for population control "by compulsion if voluntary methods fail."

Meanwhile the British book Blueprint for Survival, published by the Ecologist magazine, sided with the demagogue-of-the-day Enoch Powell in calling for "an end to immigration". Far from being ostracised as a right-wing tract, its recipe was supported by Friends of the Earth and Peter Scott, the TV wildlife king and founder of the World Wildlife Fund.

One can get a sense of how Ehrlich viewed Asian breeding from this quotation from his The Population Bomb (1968) about when he, his wife and daughter took a taxi through Delhi in India:

The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping. People visiting, arguing, and screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People defecating and urinating. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people.As we moved slowly through the mob, hand horn squawking, the dust, noise, heat and cooking fires gave the scene a hellish aspect. Would we ever get to our hotel? All three of us were, frankly frightened."

I wonder how Ehrlich survives a taxi ride down Broadway in Manhattan where the population density was nearly 70,000 people per square mile in 1970, (New York City, 26,000 per square mile) compared to Delhi's 29,000 per square mile in 2007? Like many another ideological environmentalist, Ehrlich confuses poverty with overpopulation.

In any case, Ehrlich lamely added:

…the problems of Delhi and Calcutta are our problems too. Americans have helped create them; we help to prevent their solution. We must all learn to identify with the plight of our less fortunate fellows on Spaceship Earth if we are to help both them and ourselves to survive.

What how did we Americans cause these problems? We shipped India food and medicines. What did Erhlich think the solution should be?

"We must have population control at home, hopefully through changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail."

My 2003 column on real environmental racism is here. Pearce's full blog post on "Green Fascism" is here.

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  1. One can get a sense of how Ehrlich viewed Asian breeding from this quotation from his The Population Bomb about his when he, his wife and daughter took a taxi through Delhi in India:

    The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping. People visiting, arguing, and screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People defecating and urinating. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people.As we moved slowly through the mob, hand horn squawking, the dust, noise, heat and cooking fires gave the scene a hellish aspect. Would we ever get to our hotel? All three of us were, frankly frightened.”

    What a snob! Arrogant, elitist SNOB!

  2. Population expands until it exceeds the food supply.

    The racist/religious aspect of such expansion is a result of ignorance – not choice. Thus, enlightened people breed less since they are not guided by religious dogma.

  3. Soylent Green is people!

    It’s PEOPLE!!

  4. Supporting a thesis (“Green fascism is on the march!”) by citing two books written forty-odd years ago is less than overwhelming. Oh, I forgot. Green fascism isn’t on the march. But it could be. Well, the DC area could be hit by a 9.9 earthquake tomorrow. Better get right with Jesus!

  5. Has Paul Ehrlich ever predicted anything that wasn’t incontrovertibly refuted?

  6. My cultural geography class had a big class debate on this Paul Ehrlich guy. Everyone but me more or less said that we were overpopulated. I brought up the fact that he based his work on Malthus’s from the 1700’s and suddenly it was quiet. Everyone but me then said they didn’t know if we were overpopulated.

  7. Hey Alan, could you review Soylent Green for us? Maybe No Blade of Grass? That’s what you’re good for, right?

  8. Envrionmental pronouncements here in Santa Cruz CA almost invariably at least tip the hat to the ZPG ethic. On local discussion boards, sincere attempts to discuss the jobs shortage, the affordable housing shortage, traffic congestion, the high price of living, our precarious water situation, etc., always attract at least one contributor who says something like, “of course, the root problem here is overbreeding — people must give up the freedom to breed or these other problems will never be solved.” That’s my paraphrase, but I think I’m accurately portraying the content and tone.

    In such cases, I like to point out that a great many of the problems we declare as symptoms of overbreeding are actually problems caused by the artificial (usually government-mandated) restrictions on settlement and development, especially here in California and other “envrionmentally conscious” States. Sure, the cities are getting crowded and many neighborhoods are scary, but most urban areas here are encircled by development-free, settlement-free greenbelts or other preserves, forcing the cities to “build in” (and “up,” if there aren’t already laws against highrise development in particular or additional development in general). Sure, water aquifers are threatened, but that’s in large part because no-growth or ecologically activist governments have quashed such development projects as dams and other rain collectors, which would have sacrificed a little dry land to create huge reservoirs that could not only serve larger populations, but also mitigate California’s frequent drought conditions. And let’s not forget that Uncle Sam owns almost 50% of the acreage in the entire state, and has put nearly all of that real-estate off limits to settlement, and most of it off-limits to infrastructure development that might help ease the problems of a growing population that is trying to squeeze itself into a remaining area that is only a small percentage of the overall State.

    When all you do is live and work in a crowded urban area, or shuttle back and forth between a bedroom community and a crowded urban center just a few miles away, it is a lot easier to accept the ZPG claims that we are overbreeding and exceeding the carrying capacity of the land, than if you actually get out in the world and view the vast, essentially empty areas of land that someone, somewhere, has made off limits to settlement and development. Why? For the benefit of all? How can asking everyone to surrender so many rights, including their right to reproduce, be of real benefit to all? Is it reasonable to say that people be sterilized (which honest commentators on the issue of overbreeding admit is the endpoint of the ZPG effort) so that the government can maintain, for example, State or national parks that only a few people are ever lucky enough to visit?

    Not that I don’t appreciate the parks, myself, when I ever have the free time and disposable income to visit them, but let’s get a sense of priorities here. The government exists to secure our liberties, not to trade-off essential human liberties (e.g., procreation) for aesthetic niceties (huge preserves under control of an elite). I definitely smell a rat.

  9. shrike | April 22, 2008, 4:32pm | #
    Population expands until it exceeds the food supply.

    The racist/religious aspect of such expansion is a result of ignorance – not choice. Thus, enlightened people breed less since they are not guided by religious dogma.

    Fertility rates have dropped like a stone in all nations in all cultures world wide. All this at a time when food world wide has been cheaper and more readily available then at any other time in recorded history. You are not only an idiot Shrike, you are an asshole as well.

  10. James Anderson Merritt | April 22, 2008, 4:48pm

    Ouch! How about this, instead:

    Don’t move to a high-density area if high-density living bothers you. Choose, instead, to live in one of the more desolate areas of Montana, or northern Idaho, or Nebraska, or the Yukon Territory or somewhere instead of suggesting that the solution to high-density problems lies in castrating the rest of the state to serve the wants/needs of those who choose to occupy those condensations of humanity.

    Eviscerating what remaining unpopulated areas there are is a solution? For how long? Yeesh! Talk about narrow focus.

    I’m not agreeing with Ehrlich … just disagreeing with Merritt.

  11. “Fertility rates have dropped like a stone” and “food is cheaper”?

    World population has never been higher and a basket of soybean, corn, and wheat have trebled in two years.

    You, ‘joshua’ must be another dumbass GOP Christ-Fag with an agenda.

  12. You are not only an idiot Shrike, you are an asshole as well.

    You just noticed this?

  13. AV: Well, there was that immigration dust up in the Sierra Club back in 2004.

    And there’s this article–“As Earth Day Arrives, Population Still the Uneasy Issue”–in today’s Environmental News Network.

    And let’s not forget the legions of fans for
    Ishmael.

  14. yeah, he’s a dick, but:

    “You, ‘joshua’ must be another dumbass GOP Christ-Fag with an agenda.”

    is a pretty funny line.

  15. “Lest we have any doubt who should do the relinquishing, he wrote elsewhere about how college students should have more children than those with low IQs.”

    I cannot say I comepletely disagree with this idea. But then I think of all the yuppie parents with no bigger care than what latest BabyGap outfit to buy, which playpen/stroller/car seat is the latest rage, and (not that I would care if not for) all their efforts to surpress liberties for the “sake of the children”… and I shudder.

  16. I never said he wasn’t amusing, Acid Damage McGee.

  17. Supporting a thesis (“Green fascism is on the march!”) by citing two books written forty-odd years ago is less than overwhelming.

    Paul Ehrlich is a big green house scare guy and most of the people who support his work….he was dead wrong, (and from this quote dangerously wrong “by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.”). These same people and same organizations who were wrong 40 years ago now have new solutions for us to save planet…why should we trust them now? what has changed that has made their ideology any different then it was 40 years ago? I don’t recall reading how they revoked and condemned their past transgressions into fascism.

  18. You, ‘joshua’ must be another dumbass GOP Christ-Fag with an agenda.

    no…I am a dumbass libertarian (small “L”) atheist-Fag with an agenda.

    World population has never been higher and a basket of soybean, corn, and wheat have trebled in two years.

    And yet no one is starving…in other words people still have the money to buy more expensive food….it is as if the more people there are on the planet the less comparative wealth they have to spend on food.

    You have convinced me Shrike…we need more people.

  19. Population expands until it exceeds the food supply.

    A more accurate prediction would be that populations can be limited by food supply.

  20. “Last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16% . These were some of the sharpest rises in food prices ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated. Since January, rice prices have soared 141%; the price of one variety of wheat shot up 25% in a day. Some 40km outside Abidjan, Mariam Kone, who grows sweet potatoes, okra and maize but feeds her family on imported rice, laments: “Rice is very expensive, but we don’t know why.”

    The Economist (today) on food shortages.

    Production and yields are at lows. Water availability is at low.

    Sorry to let the facts irritate your narrative, joshua.

  21. And I don’t mind being called an “asshole” at all. They always say that about those who upset conventional thinking.

  22. It is interesting how eugenics never really died out even after the concept itself was destroyed by its association with Fascism. People forget that eugenics was a widely accepted doctrine among the West’s intellectual elites right up until WWII. Even some communist accepted the general idea.

    I think it survives due to the inherent appeal of elitism. We all have a genetic drive to be socially dominant. Seeing ourselves as a superior type who should reproduce at the expense of others is the very essence of the evolutionary drive.

    Naked eugenics is socially unacceptable so they have to sublimate the desire into something more socially acceptable.

  23. “They always say that about those who upset conventional thinking.”

    They also always say that about assholes. The trick is knowing which is which.

  24. “Last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16% . These were some of the sharpest rises in food prices ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated. Since January, rice prices have soared 141%; the price of one variety of wheat shot up 25% in a day. Some 40km outside Abidjan, Mariam Kone, who grows sweet potatoes, okra and maize but feeds her family on imported rice, laments: “Rice is very expensive, but we don’t know why.”

    Ethanol subsides are not an indicator of over population only bad government….not the first time states have caused unnecessary problems in food supply nor will it be the last. Or are you dumb enough to actually believe the food shortages from the Great Leap Forward and today’s hyper inflation in Zimbabwe are due to overpopulation?

  25. I have heard various fringies use terms like “breeders” and talk about how 90% of the population should be wiped out. Mostly I think it’s curmudgeonliness writ grand.

    I am largely sanguine about envirofascism (a term roughly as sensible as islamofascism).

  26. I upset the Never-Ending Yield theologians here….

    my original post…..

    —–“Population expands until it exceeds the food supply.

    The racist/religious aspect of such expansion is a result of ignorance – not choice. Thus, enlightened people breed less since they are not guided by religious dogma.” —-

    Population IS expanding (true)

    Food supply has not yet (2008) been exceeded but the market is re-pricing (true)

    People who eschew their religion in the areas of contraception and late marriage reproduce less (true).

    You assholes are the “true dunces” – (thanks J. Swift)

  27. Surely, only the John Birch Society can save us from these people who wrote books forty years ago.

  28. What do ethanol subsidies (admittedly a bad idea) have to do with the price of rice or soy in Asia?

  29. The fact that you compare population densities in New York and Delhi and quote a book 4 decades old to make a point against overpopulation shows you don’t have a clue about what’s going on.

    Yet, you call yourself ‘Reason’…

  30. Green fascism isn’t on the march. But it could be. Well, the DC area could be hit by a 9.9 earthquake tomorrow.

    Yep, and 50,000 myocardial infarctions could be averted if people eliminated trans-fats from their diets.

  31. Surely, only the John Birch Society can save us from these people who wrote books forty years ago.

    They will, by stopping all the brown people from coming here.

  32. Yet, you call yourself ‘Reason’…

    Drink!

  33. What do ethanol subsidies (admittedly a bad idea) have to do with the price of rice or soy in Asia?

    Are you serious or just disingenuous?

  34. “Are you serious or just disingenuous?”

    I think he’s just trying to upset the conventional thinking.

    heh.

  35. # StupidScript | April 22, 2008, 5:05pm | #

    # James Anderson Merritt | April 22, 2008, 4:48pm

    # Ouch! How about this, instead:

    # Don’t move to a high-density area
    # if high-density living bothers you.
    # Choose, instead, to live in one of the
    # more desolate areas of Montana, or
    # northern Idaho, or Nebraska, or the
    # Yukon Territory or somewhere instead of
    # suggesting that the solution to high-density
    # problems lies in castrating the rest
    # of the state to serve the wants/needs of
    # those who choose to occupy those
    # condensations of humanity.

    # Eviscerating what remaining unpopulated areas
    # there are is a solution? For how long? Yeesh!
    # Talk about narrow focus.

    # I’m not agreeing with Ehrlich …
    # just disagreeing with Merritt.

    I’m not sure with what you are disagreeing, though it is clear with WHOM.

    I didn’t call for the elimination of natural areas, not by a long shot. I didn’t call for castration of people (or “the rest of the state”) or evisceration of land. Indeed, I am certainly arguing against mandated human castration, at a minimum.

    You are aware that the majority of Californians live on a single- or very low double-digit percentage of all acreage in the State, are you not? If we DOUBLED the amount of occupied space, the overwhelming majority of the State — one of the nation’s largest — would still be essentially unpopulated and mostly undeveloped. There is no imminent danger of the State being overrun with human vermin. So when you use words such as “evisceration” to characterize the substance of the points I’m making here, it shows that you, like the environmental fascists, do not have an accurate sense of proportion. My point is not that I want to pave over the state, but that those who scream ultimately for sterilization based on an overpopulation that “strains the planet’s capacity” are either misinformed or liars, at least in the case of my home State.

    Finally, since you invite me to move, I would ask first that all of those who came here after I was born in California over a half-century ago, and who entertain fantasies of overpopulation problems that can only be solved by such extreme measures are have been enacted in recent decades — and even more extreme measures being proposed — leave ahead of me. Maybe that includes you. I hear that Montana and Idaho are nice…

  36. Oleg: If you’d like me take apart more recent manifestations of Malthusian thinking, perhaps you’d like to read my 2004 analysis of an article called “Human Carrying Capacity Is Determined by Food Availability”, in the November 2003 issue of the journal Population and Environment? In that article Hopfenberg writes, “[T]he problem of human population growth can be feasibly addressed only if it is recognized that increases in the population of the human species, like increases in the population of all other species, is a function of increases in food availability.”

    Or you might enjoy my discussion of Jared Diamond’s egregiously bad book, Collapse, in 2005.

    And of course I linked to my analysis of the silly overpopulation novel Ishmael in a post above.

  37. “Are you serious or just disingenuous?” Jub S D.

    Right – like the 84 acres of rice in the USA that has been converted to corn/ethanol has driven up the price of rice in Thailand 141% this year?

    Talk about a clingy bitch….

  38. Are you familiar with the notion of substitute goods, shrike?

    Now put your thinking cap on (that will require that you take your head out of your ass) and consider how that concept might apply to corn, rice, wheat, etc.

    There’s a good boy!

  39. “Are you familiar with the notion of substitute goods, shrike?”

    Provide data where rice is being converted to ethanol in Asia (in meaningful quantities).

    Subsidies NOT required.

    Then you might have something.

  40. Shrike,

    Population expands until it exceeds the food supply.

    This is Malthusian myth which has been refuted by over a century. It fails on two points.

    (1) The food supply is not fixed. Changes in technology, trade or even taste continually alter the food supply. For the last two centuries, food supplies have grown faster than population all overt the world.

    (2) Al human cultures exert some form of population control. People are not rabbits. Pre-industrial cultures use circumcision, infanticide and abstinence as population control methods.

    The idea that most humans are morons who pump out children mindlessly is just an elitist conceit. There is no evidence that any human culture ever suffered from severe overpopulation.

  41. OK, shrike, I guess we’ll need a remedial lesson. When the price of one good, say a grain, goes up dramatically for whatever reason, might some people choose to replace that grain with another grain? If so, what effect my that increased demand have on the price of the second grain?

    Think very, very hard, shrike. There’s a good boy!

  42. Shannon.

    You said “(1) The food supply is not fixed.”

    I agree! But the food supply is LIMITED. Other civilizations have resulted in die off.

    And for the 3rd grader….. Please show me how Asians are replacing rice with cheaper corn?

    I await data or some other intelligence…..

  43. There is no evidence that any human culture ever suffered from severe overpopulation.

    Anasazi?

    http://www.desertusa.com/ind1/du_peo_ana.html

    I am sure there are better examples of population exceeding the local resources.

  44. BTW,

    I’ll add to the pile-on.

    Those 40 year old books had scary ideas.

    Someone might read them and not recognize that they are bad ideas.

    Gimme a break.

  45. Calling these statements “racist” is akin to the Pro-Israel lobby calling any statement against Israel “anti-semitic”. Pointing out that India and China both have populations over 1 billion (and counting) and each of those persons exerts stress on the planet (and an increasing amount of stress with rising lifestyles) isn’t racist.

  46. It is interesting how eugenics never really died out even after the concept itself was destroyed by its association with Fascism.

    Perhaps more accuratly: Although Socialists have managed to disassociat themselves from National Socialists, eugenics did not die out witin the Socialist ranks.

  47. shrike is not funning. He really is high school level economics illiterate.

    I await data or some other intelligence…..

    I’m quite sure you await intelligence. It may never come.

  48. Yes, he’s definitely one of my more special students.

    “Please show me how Asians are replacing rice with cheaper corn?”

    Sigh… shrike, shrike, shrike… Go back and read the assignment again, and read it closely this time. Which grain is rice and which is corn?

    You’re so close to having an intelligent thought about this, shrike! Push hard, you can do it! There’s a good boy!

  49. The Never Ending Yield disciples steadfastly maintain that resources are unlimited and currencies are in the favor of the poor.

    Please guys, tell me which stocks you have bought so that I can short them.

    I am sure that the higher price of titanium will allow Haiti the luxury of building an air fleet of 777’s – per your “logic”.

    Again – you present no data – I did.

  50. whoops – I had employed Karl Rove to assail your character.

    I just fired him – your lack of dictated such.

  51. Hey Shrike — Idiocracy — you lose or you lose. Don’t you have any kids, I’ll use your allotment.

    Hinheckle

  52. Why aren’t urban populations measured in cubic miles?

  53. “I am sure that the higher price of titanium will allow Haiti the luxury of building an air fleet of 777’s – per your “logic”.

    Again – you present no data – I did.”

    Jesus you’re a fucking moron, shrike. The only “data” you’ve presented concerns your complete ignorance of basic economics. Do you honestly have no idea how this argument goes? Can you really be that stupid?

    Try to follow along. Say the words out loud if that helps. Corn prices go up sharply. People switch to substitute grains, such as rice. Demand for rice goes up. The price of rice goes up. It doesn’t require large conversions of US rice acreage to be converted to corn, or rice to be converted to ethanol in Asia, or any other of the incredibly stupid theories you have. And it certainly has nothing at all to do with “Asians… replacing rice with cheaper corn.” That statement is so stupid I don’t even know where to start. Have you been paying any attention at all?!? This isn’t some terrible conspiracy by the “GOP Christ-Fags” you’re so obsessed with, and it’s not some “Never Ending Yield” strawman. It’s just basic economics.

    Whew – OK, I lost my temper there, but I’m back in control now. Some students are just a little slower than others. Remember what we said about taking your head out of your ass, shrike? Try it one more time. It’s just basic economics. You can do it, shrike! There’s a good boy!

  54. The Never Ending Yield disciples steadfastly maintain that resources are unlimited and currencies are in the favor of the poor.

    Please guys, tell me which stocks you have bought so that I can short them.

    I am sure that the higher price of titanium will allow Haiti the luxury of building an air fleet of 777’s – per your “logic”.

    Again – you present no data – I did.

    That made no fucking sense, you useless twat.

    It’s the economics stupid, you don’t know any.

  55. Once you lefties lose your superstitious taboos towards
    genetically modified crops, there will be a new green revolution, and that Malthusian logic concerning the limits of human population growth in relation to food resources can get shoved right back up your ass. So far, Shrikey, you are basing your argument on a recent trend when 28 of the last thirty have proven Erlich wrong.

    Damn religious leftist nut jobs going to set us all back.

  56. The Never Ending Yield disciples steadfastly maintain that resources are unlimited and currencies are in the favor of the poor.

    Please guys, tell me which stocks you have bought so that I can short them.

    I am sure that the higher price of titanium will allow Haiti the luxury of building an air fleet of 777’s – per your “logic”.

    Again – you present no data – I did.

    Some kids in one of the engineering departments built a printer for toilet paper rolls. I’m going to Sam’s Club in the morning with the department charge card to purchase four bulk packs of Charmin and then I am going to get your words above printed on each roll so everyone in the Economics Department can wipe their asses with your stupidity. Even the Keynesians and the Marxist will get a laugh out of it.

  57. “Fertility rates have dropped like a stone in all nations in all cultures world wide. All this at a time when food world wide has been cheaper and more readily available then at any other time in recorded history. You are not only an idiot Shrike, you are an asshole as well.”

    Josh,
    Have you looked at the price of agricultural commodities lately?

  58. Guys, just one question:

    even if you don’t think the planet is overpopulated now, do you think that theoretically it can be overpopulated? If so, how many people do you think Earth can sustain?

    Answer these questions keeping the following conditions in mind:

    * no population shift to other planets, moon, etc. – it’s not possible yet, even if it is, shifting people to moon to make room on Earth should sound a bit of China’s policy for you.

    * no severe environmental degradation from anthropocentric point of view: clear air, pure water, all that stuff. I mean globally, not only in USA, but in Bangladesh also.

    * no biodiversity loss: extinction is halted or reduced to its natural rate. All that orangutans, gorillas, pandas deserve to live too.

    * good quality of life: food, health, education, travel, job, etc.

    * no cowardly and too quick surrender to technologies in every aspect of life. I mean, food is food, not a powder, enriched with proteins and vitamins; dignity is dignity, no radio-chips implanted into every human to secure against behavior deviations due to stress. The same time, solar panels are ok, fuel cells are ok. I hope you get the point. No time to generalize.

    Last item is very important!

    Rub your crystal balls and make predictions. Or dig into the depths of your reason, for some of you.

  59. * no severe environmental degradation from anthropocentric point of view: clear air, pure water, all that stuff. I mean globally, not only in USA, but in Bangladesh also.

    * no biodiversity loss: extinction is halted or reduced to its natural rate. All that orangutans, gorillas, pandas deserve to live too.

    Ah, I see you cribbed off Paul Ehrlich’s 2nd “bet” with Julian Simon. He was spanked so humiliatingly in his 1st bet with Simon, and knew that he couldn’t win a straight wager, that he started cheating by throwing all sorts of slanted environmental conditions onto the next one. So much so, Simon knew it was fatally rigged and declined.

    “Overpopulation” is a definition, not a state. Do you want to limit population growth in your country? Fine. Industrialize and grow your economy out of the 18th century. You’ll find that your population growth will fall like a rock to barely replacement rate and more likely become negative. You’ll then need immigration to keep your social and welfare programs above water.

    We’re the ones who should be digging into the depths of reason? Stop reading Malthus, try cracking open a book and read some history fer chris’ sakes.

  60. Have you looked at the price of agricultural commodities lately?

  61. Stupid server squirrels….

    Have you looked into the market distortions caused by guvmint meddling in turning food crops into fuel lately?

  62. The underlying issue here is that some “deep green” environmentalists have concluded that humans are the problem. They see people as a cancer eating the planet. What makes me a trifle nervous is that once a person is convinced humans are a disease, they might go about looking for a cure. Sure, I think folks like Joe just want to save the planet and give something he thinks is nifty to future generations. Just like in the animal rights movement, however, there are some less benevolent folks. I think calling them fascists or Stalinists is silly. The hatred or loathing of mankind is not really a political philosophy. It’s pretty much just sociopathy.

  63. JW,

    what you’re talking about? Julian Simon – I don’t have an idea who he is. Paul Ehrlich – this article is the first time I see him mentioned.

    Don’t make it complex. I wanted answer for my question. I didn’t ask for a recipe to tackle population growth. It seems like you backed off. First you say there is no concern about overpopulation. Shortly afterwards, your talking about medicine necessary to fix it. It’s like you’re concerned, but fear to reveal it so that no one could suspect your betrayal of holy cow of free markets.

    ok. Questions are still on the agenda.

    Just let me make it clear why I throw slanted environmental conditions. No doubt Earth will sustain billions and billions more. The only real unconditional limits seem to be dimensional. But if we ended up with no forests, no biodiversity, no cultural diversity, all stressed, radio-collared for security concerns, would it have been worth it?

    So, yeah, conditions are pretty important. Without them, it’s like discussing victory in war in Iraq, without anyone able to define what victory is.

  64. How have Progressives “advanced” society? Well, when John Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal” he was being satirical. Progressives made such grim suggestions seriously.

  65. Oleg, my question is: Who decides? Reproduction is a fundamental human right. I don’t think the State should be in the business of telling people they can or cannot procreate, particularly not when it’s based on some vague notion that there are just “too many” people on the planet.

  66. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Julian Simon.

    Julian Simon, Julian Simon, Julian Simon . . .

  67. JW punked out.

    Oleg’s challenge was too much for him.

    Of course, population is self-regulating to a degree, but the point at which population pressures reduce population growth would be way beyond the quality of life bar that Oleg has set (given his conditions, we’re already over it).

    With changes in how we do business, we may be able to regain that quality of life even with a larger population.

    Waste not want not and all that.

  68. And, for the record, Julian Simon is a poor spokesman unless you are refuting a twit like Ehrlich.

    But I guess when you use 40 year-old boogiemen to scare people about environmentalism, Julian Simon might look like a sage authority.

    Rachel Carson = la llorona or something

    http://www.lallorona.com/1legend.html

  69. JW punked out.

    No, I went to work and you know, worked.

    Oleg introduces unrealstic and unachievable criteria and then ignores the current data on population growth. What’s my answer supposed to be?

    Trend lines are pointing down, and have been for the past few years, for overall population growth, as more nations become wealthier and need to have fewer children. Cooler heads have been saying this much since god knows when, but the overpoopulation hysterics can’t be bothered to listen.

    Not to oversimplfy the situation, but it has been amply demonstrated obver the past 50 years or so that the best cure for population concerns an open and realtively free economic market coupled with a solid rule of law. Population takes care of itself.

    The US, Japan and a large part of Western Europe are good exmaples of this dynamic at work.

    And, for the record, Julian Simon is a poor spokesman unless you are refuting a twit like Ehrlich.

    He’s only a poor spokesman if its your ox being gored. Otherwise, he’s a good antidote against the Malthusians and far-left enviros, rest his soul.

  70. Oleg introduces unrealstic and unachievable criteria

    No. He introduced desirable goals…it is, after all, a thought experiment.

    and then ignores the current data on population growth.

    Really, how’d he do that?

    What’s my answer supposed to be?

    I believe he asked you what the population carrying capacity of the earth was given his thought experiment…so I would guess it would look some thing like this…

    “10,000,000,000” or “3,000,000,000” or “unlimited”

    Growth rates going down does not mean that population does not continue to grow, of course. If there is a limited carrying capacity under Oleg’s conditions, it will be met unless growth rates become negative.

    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpop.html

  71. Otherwise, he’s a good antidote against the Malthusians and far-left enviros, rest his soul.

    He’s not so much an antidote as a salve for bruised preconceptions, imho.

  72. An interesting issue in the slowed population growth rates are the varying contributions of two important factors:

    Improved economies in the developing world

    and

    AIDS

    Which has played a bigger role in the slowing of the population growth rate over the last 30 years?

  73. JW,

    population trend had been downward until 2007, the year when it turned up and gave birth to 2 mil. children more than in 2006. Perhaps, current food crisis is responsible.

    While it’s true that richer means fewer children, there are exceptions. Take nearly any oil-rich country in midwest. Religion plays its card there.

    Also, there is such thing as inertia. Take Bangladesh. Fertility rates has gone half for the last few decades. And going down. Yet, it is projected for them to have 275 mil. people in the mid of the century. How would Bangladesh cope with these numbers, if it can’t feed today’s 150 mil.? Civil unrest is unavoidable, I think. If not a war…

    Some of you ask for a solution. I’m not suggesting harsh policies. Family planning techniques for personal use. Free contraception. Education first – telling people about their responsibilities, showing them that dire conditions of their living standards are an extension of not coping with population growth, showing them how to get out. These things sound obvious for you, but you don’t get how people live there. They don’t have such luxury to discuss free markets. I had lived for a year close to depressed region in Eastern Europe (after collapse of Soviet Union). It’s easy to get in, it’s hard to get out.

    Still, you didn’t answer my question. At least, I can applaud you for your honesty of evaluating my environmental criteria as unrealistic. So, apparently, this is what you mean (if you feel I’m wrong, correct me): further population growth and good environmental standards are mutually exclusive.

  74. So, apparently, this is what you mean (if you feel I’m wrong, correct me): further population growth and good environmental standards are mutually exclusive.

    In the developed world, probably not. We have the resources and the luxury of wealth to mitigate environmental impact to a larger degree. Does this mean no environmental impact? I doubt it. Prosperity and externalized negatives are pretty much hand-in-hand. This is not to say that technology won’t further mitigate this impact as we progress, but to assume that we can have the pristine world you envision above, while maintaining our standard of living, (or for a developing nation to leapfrog to 1st world status without “environmental degradation”) is folly.

    In the developing world, probably. They don’t have the resources, in general, and I suspect that given the choice between feeding their family or saving an orang, I think you’ll know what the answer is.

    While it’s true that richer means fewer children, there are exceptions. Take nearly any oil-rich country in midwest. Religion plays its card there.

    I’m guessing you meant the mideast. Iowa would be surprised to say the least that they’re oil-rich. Corn-rich, yes. Oil, not so much.

    I regard Middle Eastern oil nations as Beverly Hillbillies. They went from nomadic tribesmen to modern oil barons virtually overnight. Their societal practices and mores are still catching up to their wealth and there’s that pesky, crushing religion thing too. That said, the Middle East is hardly an overpopulation hotbed.

    How would Bangladesh cope with these numbers, if it can’t feed today’s 150 mil.?

    I don’t know. I don’t pretend to be able to foretell the future. None of us truly know what the population will be nor do we know what political or technological changes will take place that could have an impact, positive or negative, on the final outcome.

    These population numbers are all projections, straight line extrapolations, not reality. They change from year to year. What role does the Bangledeshi govt play in its poverty? Do they have high tarrifs on imports? Do develeoped nations ag subsidies play a role in their crop siutation?

    Is it similiar to the Indian situation? Socialist economic policies were largely abandoned in the mid-90’s and so began their economic boom. The Indians have a long way to go, no doubt, but they have great potential to become a super-power. A billion people is a huge resource for a growing and technologically savvy economy.

  75. …we can have pristine world you envision above, while maintaining our standard of living, is folly…

    Again, it boils down to whether overpopulation is dealt with.

    Two questions should be set apart – acknowledging overpopulation and finding ways to deal with it.

    By logic, you shouldn’t answer the second question, unless you have a positive answer for the first one – it’s stupid to find ways to alleviate overpopulation, if there is none.

    But that’s how our conversation has been developing so far. A lot has been done to persuade there is no overpopulation, then all of a sudden we’re discussing how to deal with it, given environmental (if you don’t like environment, think about these conditions simply as conditions on finite set of natural resources, to make it more economic and less environmental) conditions!

    Even without that, talking about how free markets make fertility rates go down should be, by logic, preceded by acknowledging that high fertility rates are a concern. Otherwise, why would you want them to go down with free markets?

    This is my last message here, so that’s how I would like to finish the discussion.

    Apparently, even if you don’t express it freely, overpopulation is a word from your vocabulary! May be you afraid to come out of boundaries, where libertarian ideology put you, may be you think we are not there yet, but ‘high fertility rates’ are somehow a concern.

    That’s for the first question: high fertility rates are a concern.

    Now, how to deal with it? I think everything should be put on table. If free markets work, then let them do the job. So, your holy cow is spared. But that shouldn’t be the only tool. Family planning – too! Not physically forcing them to have less babies, but educating. In the end, they will say thank you.

    As a final part, back to coupling good living standards and pristine nature.

    There is a number of countries living within their means, given by nature – they don’t consume more than they have, which is actually a great estimation for population levels, not population density – while combining great living standards.

    Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada…

    Now, I’m not falling into a reverie here – no nation either from Africa or from Southeast Asia would catch up with these countries soon (if ever), even if the population growth were subsided immediately, but not dealing with overpopulation and even being afraid to think freely about it not only isn’t helpful, but making things even direr.

  76. Ron, I’m surprised that you would go to the effort of spreading rather thin hype about “Green fascism” without bothering to explore from a libertarian perspective whether the Green fascists have grounds for concern, what the institutional underpinnings of environmental and “overpopulation” problems might be, or what our own connections to those problems are.

    It’s rather simple, really: we see both cleaner environments and the demographic shift in relatively wealthy nations that protect property rights, as families and other economic actors are largely forced to bear their own costs, which provide incentives to keep both pollution and families under control.

    Where populations are still growing rapidly – and environmental degradation continues apace – are societies that do not protect property rights, so that there economic actors do not internalize all costs, and families to a significant degree face a free-for-all over resources that are not effectively owned or protected.

    “Development” thus presents many aspects of a “tragedy of the commons”, a tragedy that we feed with our own consumer, commercial and industrial demand, which is sourced from assets that are not clearly owned, but are simply up for grabs – whether we are talking about the stripmining of the oceans, the replacement of the Amazon and SE Asian tropical forests with soybeans and palm oil/biofuel plantations, or industrial and commerical enterprises that don’t bear the costs of their pollution (or of the power plants supplying their electricity).

    The “Green fascists” see the destruction at the end of the chains of demand that we in the West pull and the destruction resulting from population growth that is unchecked by the pricing signals from effective ownership, and they are rightly concerned. That they fail to understand the institutional underpinnings is of course to be regretted, by it is a failure that can be remedied by a little education.

    That you chose not to use your knowledge of the dynamics of “tragedy of the commons” to educate but instead to decry “Green fascists” is a similar failure, and one that I hope you will regret and try to remedy.

    As it is, it seems as if you enjoy the emotional rewards of partisan struggle more than really exercising your noggin or making a contribution to directing attention to where solutions to where real problems might lie – in improved property tights protection and governance in the developing world.

    Care to contribute, or just to raise an alarum about the evil greenies?

    Regards,

    Tom

  77. TokyoTom wins the thread.

  78. I cross-posted this and added a few additional comments on my personal blog at the Ludwig von Mises Institute:

    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/04/25/food-shortages-ron-bailey-takes-up-the-cry-are-malthus-and-quot-green-fascism-quot-on-the-march.aspx

    More than a little ironically, Ron`s rather reflexive reaction reminds me of his own excellent posts on how good we are at filtering new information in ways that confirm our pre-existing biases and expectations – and which I cited in my comments on Nicholas Kristof`s recent op-ed on the same phenomenon in tribal politics:

    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/04/17/nick-kristof-on-politics-why-we-conclude-that-i-m-right-and-you-re-evil.aspx.

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