Too Many Environmentalists Have Forgotten that People are Beautiful Too
When he founded Greenpeace in 1971, with several friends, ecologist Patrick Moore was still idealistic about the possibilities of the Green movement. As he gradually became aware of the misanthropic currents of modern environmentalism he quit in disgust.
Moore said the movement is no longer concerned with the environment but is “a political activist movement.” In another place he writes that many environmentalists “perpetuate the belief that all human activity is negative whereas the rest of nature is good. … This aspect of environmental extremism leads to disdain and disrespect for fellow humans and the belief that it would be good if a disease such as AIDS were to wipe out most of the population.”
It seems that of all the fixations of the Green movement perhaps none is more dangerous than the concern to limit human population. Hardly an environmental story goes by without getting into a frenzied froth over population.
This focus is integral to the environmentalist movement, towards which the professing Christian environmentalist shows much ambiguity. Baptist minister Oliver Thomas’s opinion piece in USA Today is typical of this perspective. He asked, gently, “In the interest of preserving our planet and our species, shouldn’t religious organizations be encouraging smaller families?” He begged preachers to lay on some tough love, to teach that having more than two children “is selfish. Dare we say sinful?”
In his attractive and folksy Serve God, Save the Planet, published by Zondervan, Christian physician Matthew Sleeth repeated the Green mantra in a failed try at humor: “Mothers who have had two previous, uneventful deliveries should quit while they are ahead.” The message, to his readers, said with a wink and a smile, Bible verses sprinkled liberally like Christian candy, is that smaller families are not only better for the environment, but also for your health.
Environmentalists are now particularly panic-stricken because every expectation is that the global population will grow 50 percent to 100 percent this century, and per capita consumption of energy and materials will almost certainly rise with wealth. Growth is expected only in non-European races.
Ironically it is precisely in the European stock that environmentalism has found its most avid disciples. Ironic because Europe and the United States are growing only because of immigration, the native-born population failing to breed presumably because they are too busy maximizing their pleasure; they are saving the planet for other people’s children.
The perennial problem as Western environmentalists frame it is too many people with mouths open like baby birds demanding a refill. Solution: deliberately cut the numbers of the useless eaters, hamstring the economy, or cut access to electrical power, which will amount to the same thing.
Too much environmentalism has become a movement to save the planet from humans. For this reason environmentalists tend to believe, with little but passion and blind faith to recommend it, that the free and uncoerced exchange of goods and services, and the accompanying economic growth achieved by use of energy, materials, and chemicals, invariably and necessarily degrade human and environmental well-being.
It might be surprising that the world’s most populous nation is held up by environmentalists as a good example of how to save the planet. At the recent United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, Chinese environmental policy was hailed as “very impressive” and a “good example.”
But perhaps it should not be surprising that other world leaders praise the Chinese for their environmental quality. At the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, population control was raised by Zhao Baige, a member of the Chinese government delegation, and vice-minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC). She said that reducing population is an important key to saving the planet from global warming and that the Chinese government should receive credit for its efforts in this regard.
According to Zhao since the institution of China’s one-child policy in 1979 the communist nation has reduced the number of births by 400 million, resulting in 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions per year. Aborting humans, she suggests, is the most cost-effective way to save the planet, a much bigger bang for the buck than technological patches or tree planting.
I’m all for planting trees; they are beautiful. One ought to remind environmentalists that people are beautiful too.
James Wanliss, Ph.D., is Professor of Physics at Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC. He is a Senior Fellow and Contributing Writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and author of Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed physics articles, has held the NSF CAREER award, and does research in space science and nonlinear dynamical systems under grants from NASA and NSF.