Robert Zubrin: The Population Control Holocaust

Around the world, the population control movement has resulted in billions of lost or ruined lives. We cannot stop at merely rebutting the pseudoscience and recounting the crimes of the population controllers. We must also expose and confront the underlying antihumanist ideology.

There is a single ideological current running through a seemingly disparate collection of noxious modern political and scientific movements, ranging from militarism, imperialism, racism, xenophobia, and radical environmentalism, to socialism, Nazism, and totalitarian communism. This is the ideology of antihumanism: the belief that the human race is a horde of vermin whose unconstrained aspirations and appetites endanger the natural order, and that tyrannical measures are necessary to constrain humanity. The founding prophet of modern antihumanism is Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), who offered a pseudoscientific basis for the idea that human reproduction always outruns available resources. Following this pessimistic and inaccurate assessment of the capacity of human ingenuity to develop new resources, Malthus advocated oppressive policies that led to the starvation of millions in India and Ireland.

While Malthus’s argument that human population growth invariably leads to famine and poverty is plainly at odds with the historical evidence, which shows global living standards rising with population growth, it nonetheless persisted and even gained strength among intellectuals and political leaders in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its most pernicious manifestation in recent decades has been the doctrine of population control, famously advocated by ecologist Paul Ehrlich, whose bestselling 1968 antihumanist tract The Population Bomb has served as the bible of neo-Malthusianism. In this book, Ehrlich warned of overpopulation and advocated that the American government adopt stringent population control measures, both domestically and for the Third World countries that received American foreign aid. (Ehrlich, it should be noted, is the mentor of and frequent collaborator with John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor.)


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4 responses to “Robert Zubrin: The Population Control Holocaust

  1. a.n. ditchfield

    The current economic crisis signals the weakness of ageing populations
    – not exhaustion of resources and physical limits of the planet.
    A death wish has crept into the behavior of Western societies. It is unnatural because it runs against the instinct of preservation of species, the primordial urge that drives all living beings. It opposes existence, a central theme of religious beliefs that exalt the work of men and women in bringing to life and rearing the next generation. Since the 1960s, the liberalization of economies unleashed market forces that encouraged women to look for jobs, at a time when contraception and legalized abortion gave them control over birth. A second paycheck is a convenience for a household, but should be balanced against the claims of rearing kids, the long term demand that drives an economy. With the erosion of traditional values among secularized urban dwellers, the average Western couple had fewer than 2 children; in 1999 the number had fallen to 1.3.
    This is a far cry from the structure of European populations in 1900. Nurtured by the Industrial Revolution, European Union countries then represented 14% of world population, even while they sent a great flow of settlers to the New World. The population of the UE is now 6% and tends to 4% of world total.
    Neglect of the young implies a grim future. The median age of Greeks, Italians and Spaniards will rise above 50 years in 2050 – this means that one in three persons in these countries will be 65 years old or older. A 75% tax burden will have to be exacted on the incomes of economically active adults, mainly to defray entitlements of the aged. Existing free health care, pensions and subsidies are bound to end in their present form. Greece, Italy and Spain are now at the center of a Euro zone crisis because the death wish culture is closing a full circle. Worse is coming to the Chinese, with their one child per couple policy. After the years of heady economic expansion are gone, the Chinese will face the same exhaustion dictated by the human life span, now faced by Europeans. The Japanese government estimates a one third reduction of population by 2060, when 40% of citizens will be of retirement age. If the trend continues until the end of this century, Japan will become a land inhabited by robots. They may have fewer mouths to feed, but also fewer and weaker arms to produce and create.
    The current misanthropic mood has intellectual roots in a London lecture more than two centuries ago, when Benjamin Franklin spoke about the American population, then growing at a rate of 3% a year. The number captured the mind of a Cambridge youth, Thomas Malthus, a divinity student and also a mathematician. With compound interest arithmetic he reckoned that population would double every 23.5 years; the number of people in successive periods would be proportional to the series: 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128…. After two generations, four persons would contend for the food available to one person. Exponential growth would stop long before this; Malthus assumed that the land available for food production is fixed and that crop yields would not improve. He concluded that universal famine would be the lot of future generations. Nature would restore the balance in a catastrophic way, with war, hunger and disease, unless public policy contained the trend to overcrowding. Malthus’ book, Essay on the Principle of Population attracted attention in the first decades of the 19th century, but interest fell when its forecasts failed. In the Europe and North America, the Industrial Revolution brought increasing prosperity to support unprecedented growth of the population. Malthus had ignored the vastness of the planet and the role of technology in the improvement of agricultural productivity and in shipping and preserving foodstuffs.
    Discredited by facts, Malthusian thought remained dormant until the 1960s. At that time, the advances in medical science, the advent of antibiotics and control of disease with better sanitation, had combined to bring a world-wide drop of death rates, while birth rates were remained at the traditional levels, practiced to compensate for the early deaths of previous times. The uncommon growth of world population in middle of 20th century prompted the publication of alarmist books of Malthusian persuasion. Population Bomb, of Paul Erlich, predicted hundreds of millions of deaths by hunger in Asia, and even the increase of mortality rates due to poor nutrition, in the 1980s, in the United States. The pessimistic perspective was amplified by another influential book, Limits to Growth, of which 12 million copies were distributed. Its message is that a limited planet cannot support unlimited growth. The book introduced the concept of a fixed stock of non-renewable resources depleted at an alarming rate, in an analogy with the Malthus concept of limited food availability.
    Aging populations are already a burden on declining economies and widespread pessimism drives them further down with restrictive measures to curtail economic growth. The Malthusian rationale has three tenets accepted with an act of faith:
    • We are running out of space. World population already is excessive for a limited planet, and grows at exponential rates, tending to disastrous overpopulation.
    • We are running out of resources. Non-renewable resources of the planet are being depleted to support unneeded consumption, at rates that render further economic growth unsustainable.
    • We are running against time, as tipping points of irreversible climate change are reached. Carbon dioxide emissions by human activity cause global warming that will render the planet uninhabitable.
    Many accept the three tenets uncritically, but belief has no role in dealing with measurable physical things. When matters are quantified, the difference between true and false stands out.
    Is excessive population a serious world problem? It may seem so to the dweller of a congested metropolis, living in discomfort, but is not something that can be generalized for the planet. The sum of the urban + suburban areas of the U.S. is equivalent to 2% of the area of the country, and 6% in densely populated countries such as England or Holland. It can be argued that 7 billion people would live a comfortable urban life on one million square kilometers, four times the area of the state of Wyoming, less than 0.7% of a total terrestrial area of 148 million square kilometers. Population density, in inhabitants/square kilometer, would be 7000, an average for all world cities. This density is not unusual. It is 26640 for Manhattan and 20000 for the Copacabana beachfront district in Rio de Janeiro, and 5000 for London, with an abundance of green on its large parks. Given 99.3% of free space, the idea of an overcrowded planet is exaggerated.
    Exponential growth ceased long ago. Demographic forecasts are uncertain, but most accepted ones of the UN foresee stability of world population, to be reached in the 21st century. According some, world population will start to decline at the end of the 21st century. An aging population is the current worry. With so much space available, it cannot be held that the world population is excessive or may become so. Some see mankind as a disease on the planet, such as David Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!
    ”My three goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full compliment of species, returning throughout the world.”
    The full statement of these goals was made by the terrorist Theodore Kaczynski in his well written, 35 thousand words, UNABOMBER Manifesto.
    Mining companies are aware of how little is known about the content of the vast terrestrial crust and dismiss the notion of a limited, measured and known stock of minerals. The pessimists say that, ultimately, a limited planet cannot support limitless growth, and hold this as axiomatic. It can also be countered that, ultimately, there are no non-renewable resources, in a universe ruled by the Law of Conservation of Mass. Stated by Lavoisier in the 18th century, it holds that “nothing it is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed.” Human consumption never deducted one gram from the mass of the planet and, theoretically, all used materials can be recycled. Its feasibility depends on the availability of low cost energy. When fusion energy becomes operational, it will be available in practically unlimited quantities.
    The potential source of energy is deuterium, a hydrogen isotope found in water in a ratio of 0.03%. One cubic kilometer of sea water contains more energy than would be gotten with the combustion of all known reserves of oil in the world. Since the oceans contain 1400 million cubic kilometers of water it is safe to say that energy will last longer than the human species. This promise upsets Malthusian misanthropists.
    Jeremy Rifkin, of Greenhouse Crisis Foundation: “The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.”; and Paul Ehrlich: ”Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
    Potable water need not be the ultimate limit, as is sometimes said; new nanotube membranes promise to reduce the cost of energy for desalination to one tenth of its current cost, which would render viable the use desalinated water on coastal areas of the continents, an area on which much of the world population is settled.
    It may be argued that such technologies are not yet commercially available, but no historical precedent supports the notion of that human ingenuity is gone and that technology will remain frozen forever at current levels. Expecting that fusion energy will never be harnessed is wishful thinking of extremists. There is plenty of time for their development. The doctrine of Peak Oil has been around for one hundred years and the latest blow to it came with the recent surge in oil and gas production that is bound to make North America self sufficient in fuel output with innovations like hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and shale gas.
    There is no scarcity of resources signaled by price increases. Since middle of the 19th century, a periodical, The Economist, has kept consistent and comparable records of the prices of commodities in real values; these have fallen for 150 years, thanks to technological progress. The decline has been benign. The cost of feeding of a human being was eight times higher in 1850 than it is today. In 1950, less than half of a world population of 2 billion had an adequate diet of more than 2000 calories per day, today, 80% has it, for a world population that tripled.

    ”The big threat to the planet is people: there are too many, doing too well economically and burning too much oil.” James Lovelock

    There is no consensus regarding future climate change, its timing, intensity and cause. However, there is acceptance of Malthusian ideas by European governments worried over a global warming they attribute to carbon dioxide generated by industrial activity. They make forecasts for world climate, decades ahead, with a certainty that reminds one of the precision of astronomical calculations. However, climate is a chaotic phenomenon, in the mathematical sense, and is inherently subject to high degree of uncertainty, that will not be diminished by advances in scientific knowledge. There is no climate science with forecasting power comparable to the one of exact sciences and such power will never come into being. Climate is new as a field of study and still under development. Until recent times, no university offered a B.Sc. in climate science. Climate studies resort to numerous different fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, botany, zoology, paleontology, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics etc… fields with variable degrees of uncertainty, and compounded in climate studies by those of economics.
    In studies where the science is uncertain, different hypotheses contend to establish relationships of cause and effect. If a hypothesis is hijacked by a commercial interest in support of its claims, the debate slides from the academic plane to the political plane, on which the techniques of propaganda and public relations are to be expected. This is frankly stated by Stephen Schneider, lead author of UN- IPCC reports:
    ”We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    With this sort of attitude the pretence of science was dropped and advocacy propaganda took over. The climate debate became polarized between political factions, each side with its own agenda. One side appeals to the authority of researchers in support of an anti-carbon agenda, admitted as painful, but necessary. The other side points to the lack of scientific basis for such a policy, qualified as suicidal. The clash of interests turned global warming into a journalistic and political phenomenon, not a physical one.
    Carbon dioxide is no culprit. It is not toxic or a pollutant; photosynthesis requires the gas as a nutrient of plants that support the food chain of all living beings on the planet. Unfortunately, there are base motives in a campaign to vilify an Industrial Revolution that has, over two centuries, redeemed a large part of mankind from extreme misery. Moreover, much of humanity still does not have access to electricity and suffers from all the ills of it. Calling their needs unneeded consumption is callous indifference to the fate of the poor. Their needs can only be met by economic growth stimulated by increasing supply of cheap energy.
    In this issue it is fit to ask the legal question: Cui bono? Who gains? In its modern version, it recommends following the money trail to an interest behind a cause. Suspect is the haste with which restrictive measures are proposed to reduce fuel use, with the pretext that tipping points of disastrous climatic change are being reached. Politicians are in a hurry to use this unverifiable hypothesis to support special interests. These include: governments that need huge revenues and an excuse to tax fuels; manufacturers benefited by regulation in favor of one form of energy generation and against competitors; empire building bureaucrats who want controls over everything and every soul; research entities that seek funding. To the list of beneficiaries of the global warming cause one must add the big international banks.
    In 1985, banking was a staid activity that accounted for 16% of the profits of all companies in the U.S. In 2008, 40% of total profits were earned by banks, a clear measurement of the size of the speculative bubble that followed government easy credit policies. The subsequent banking crisis was precipitated by excesses which did much damage to the productive economy of the world. Greater mischief was on the way. The banks had hoped to put into circulation huge and unlimited issues of a fictitious asset, the Carbon Credit securities. The Chicago Climate Exchange went broke and closed after short existence; the European Union Emission Trading Scheme is heading the same way amid a wave of fraud. Emission credits were hailed as a way to enlist the efficiency of markets to put a price on fuel use to curtail demand. Now there are cries for government intervention to correct “market imperfections” that led to collapse of carbon credit quotations in Europe. If the past shows anything, it is the uncanny ability of governments to pick losers where their intent was to pick winners. The worse of gambling with carbon credits was stopped by the banking crisis.
    Thus a cluster of interests supports the manmade global warming cause while empirical evidence and alternative explanations of climate change challenge them. World temperature had risen in recent decades, provoking a scare about runaway global warming. Since 1995, and against the expectation raised by computer climate models, measurement has evidenced the stability or decline of global temperature. This shows that there are natural forces shaping the climate, with an effect of greater magnitude than that of carbon dioxide, whatever its origin. These include the oscillations in ocean cycles and their temperatures, variations of solar activity and their effect on cloud cover and cloud height, the sensitivity of climate to increase of carbon dioxide, the role of water vapor. Natural cycles are little understood, but have demonstrable weight compared to the effect of manmade carbon dioxide. Moreover, mankind can do little for or against natural forces of this magnitude. Sensible public measures are welcome to mitigate the effect of climate changes, when they occur and whatever the cause.
    Alternative explanations of climate change are met with undue hostility. Politically motivated climate researchers who support manmade causes had minimized uncertainties, in a field rife with them, to give their forecasts an appearance of solidity, backed by unanimous opinion, with the refrain: The debate is over; the science is settled. The unethical conduct of researchers was disclosed in the scandal labeled Climategate. It cast doubt on the impartiality and trustworthiness of the United Nations – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-IPCC) studies by people clearly engaged in promoting their own political agendas.
    A claim of consensus of scientists about global warming is meaningless. In science, matters are never settled; there is always room for additional layers of knowledge provided by successful challenges to conventional wisdom. In the scientific mind there is no place for Magister Dixit, the master spoke, a reference to experts as final arbitrators of truth. An argument from authority deserves rejoinder with the motto of the Royal Society, Nullius in Verba (on the word of no one); science rejects the word of authority above verifiable experimental evidence and logical reasoning, A version of this attitude is found in a principle of Roman law, In dubio pro reu, Justice must benefit the defendant where doubt exists, in this in case, the defendant is the maligned industrial economy with its need for inexpensive energy.
    The forecasts of UN-IPCC are speculations that reflect the assumptions fed into computer models in support of the cause of the sponsors. These computer simulations are too uncertain to furnish solid grounds for public policies to inhibit economic activity “to save the planet”. In support of such policies, stories of imminent disaster are told in the strident tones typical of the propaganda of totalitarian regimes to deceive masses. Their tactics were described by H. L. Mencken:
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    The propaganda machine quickly attributes to global warming anything that happens on the planet, such as: influenza pandemics; an earthquake in the Himalayas, a volcanic eruption in Iceland, the 2004 tsunami on the Indian Ocean; tribal wars in Africa; heat wave in Paris; plague of snails on the tiny Isle of Wight. In Australia: forest fires, sand storms in the dry season and floods in the rainy season. In North America: the last severe winters, the collapse of a bridge in Minnesota, the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico. Evo Morales blames Americans for summer floods in Bolivia. Hugo Chaves claims capitalism killed an advanced civilization on Mars with climate warming. Fidel Castro says that earthquakes are induced by the current boom in gas and oil production of U.S. Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa, is now famished; Marxist dictator Mungabe points to global warming as the cause With friends like these, do environmental causes need enemies?
    In the opinion of the Professor Aaron Wildavsky, global warming is the mother of all environmental activism:
    “Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist’s dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population’s eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.”
    This was the youthful fantasy of now elderly hippies, bound to extinction by their barren life style. Long in coming, the fantasy is not as brazen as “Viva la muerte!” the paradox shouted by fascist hooligans who disrupted an appeal for peace at the University of Salamanca, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. Fascists also chanted “Muera la inteligencia!”, in admission of the state of their minds at the most august cultural center of Spain. When hippies and fascists are gone, Viva la vida! could become the motto of a hopeful world to be reached with a return to ancient truths that uphold the sanctity of life.

  2. Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. — Robert A. Heinlein
    I would like to add that ALL revolutions have been the acts of the latter against the former.

  3. tennisfansince76

    tadchem have to disagree w/ you there. many revolutions are a supplanting of those in charge by another group who want to be in charge. e.g russian revolution

  4. Dear Heaven, if it wasn’t for those pesky women wanting to be treated the same as men, we wouldn’t have any problems.
    After all, everything was just grand before the 60s.
    Your right, Ditchfield (hmm, is that your real name?) a hopeful world it will be when ‘we return to the Ancient truths that uphold the sanctity of life’.
    Sorry, I’m a bit slow. What are these Ancient Truths again? I was off taking my contraception pill, or inserting my contraceptive device or buying condoms or something similar, when these Ancient Truths were being handed down.
    Just so I don’t miss out on any further wise, Ancient truths, could you please let me know when the next important announcement will be?
    I’m just so dying to be as wise as you!

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