September 26, 2016

SUCKING IN THE ‘70s: Want to Slow Climate Change? Stop Having Babies, demands Eric Roston,’s “Sustainability Editor.”

It’s Zero Population Growth, slight return! Everything old is new again; those of us who grew up in the ‘70s were exposed to such Chicken Little junk science on a near-daily basis. ZPG was even the title of a staggeringly bad sci-fi film starring Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin and released in 1972:

As Wikipedia notes, ZPG was “inspired by the non-fiction best-selling book The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich,” a book that, along with Rachel Carson’s earlier Silent Spring was a one-two blow to the cerebellum that transformed previously optimistic New Frontier-era liberals into what Fred Siegel described as “Progressives Against Progress” at City Journal a few years ago:

Crankery, in short, became respectable. In 1972, Sir John Maddox, editor of the British journal Nature, noted that though it had once been usual to see maniacs wearing sandwich boards that proclaimed the imminent end of the Earth, they had been replaced by a growing number of frenzied activists and politicized scientists making precisely the same claim. In the years since then, liberalism has seen recurring waves of such end-of-days hysteria. These waves have shared not only a common pattern but often the same cast of characters. Strangely, the promised despoliations are most likely to be presented as imminent when Republicans are in the White House. In each case, liberals have argued that the threat of catastrophe can be averted only through drastic actions in which the ordinary political mechanisms of democracy are suspended and power is turned over to a body of experts and supermen.

Back in the early 1970s, it was overpopulation that was about to destroy the Earth. In his 1968 book The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich, who has been involved in all three waves, warned that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over” on our crowded planet. He predicted mass starvation and called for compulsory sterilization to curb population growth, even comparing unplanned births with cancer: “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people.” An advocate of abortion on demand, Ehrlich wanted to ban photos of large, happy families from newspapers and magazines, and he called for new, heavy taxes on baby carriages and the like. He proposed a federal Department of Population and Environment that would regulate both procreation and the economy. But the population bomb, fear of which peaked during Richard Nixon’s presidency, never detonated. Population in much of the world actually declined in the 1970s, and the green revolution, based on biologically modified foods, produced a sharp increase in crop productivity.

But oh, the fun leftists had terrorizing the rest of us with their sandwich boards back then:

(Classical reference in headline.)

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