Mandatory pedestrianism

In the Sixties, Paul Ehrlich, the author of Population Bomb, and Lester Brown, the founder of the Worldwatch Institute, predicted that the “dramatic consequences” of our “throwaway lifestyle” were only a McDonald’s carton away.

In 1968, Ehrlich said food shortages in India would kill 200 million people by 1980. In fact, by 1980, India was exporting surplus grain to Russia. thescotsman


Let's face it, death sells. Over and over the doomsday prophets pronounce that we are over consuming, overproducing, and using up our scarce and dwindling resources, such that if we don't start rationing now there will be nothing left and/or that mass starvations and environmental cataclysms will result.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for those of you who subscribe to this secular doomsday theology, but we're all going to die anyway. Besides which, the earth is surprisingly resilient and apparently has already survived a mass extinction or two, as well as numerous climate changes, completely without the help or hindrance of mankind whatsoever.

Will we run out of petroleum? Perhaps. Someday. Why not ask whether we've run out of coal yet? Coal is what the British fleet used in the early days of the industrial revolution before they switched to petroleum. Strange how inventive we humans can be; yet we continually refuse to take our own resourcefulness into account when making predictions about how doomed we are if this or that happens.

In light of the fact that those who champion this picture of doom make predictions that are so often wrong, one must come to the conclusion that it's more an article of faith than fact that we are headed for an environmental Armageddon. People like Paul Erlich should be entirely without any credence whatsoever, yet his arguments are repeated here and there and echoed in environmentalist literature everywhere. But at least PBS has figured out that he's been thoroughly discredited.

Civilization as we know it will come to an end sometime this century when the fuel runs out.

Such is the grim prediction author and California Institute of Technology professor and vice provost David Goodstein concluded his lecture with Monday night.

...He said the world is headed toward a global oil shortage that could cause warfare, economic depression and the crumbling of institutions.

"There will be a crisis," he said. "It will be painful. We have just invaded Iraq. If anybody thinks that war was not about oil, you should think again. I call that 'oil war two.' The first Gulf War was 'oil war one.'" Nov. 9, 2004, U of New Mexico,

...and in predictions of disaster that can only be averted by--surprise!!--implementing radical progressive agendas such as the Kyoto protocol, slowing down economic growth, advocating a different system of economic control that is 'more sustainable', in order to stop 'urban sprawl', which is to say cordoning people into higher density areas in order to get them to stop driving. Conveniently high density urban areas also seem to render high Democratic voting percentages.

Malthus, way back in 1798, believed that overpopulation and competition over scarce resources would create wars and conflict in society as well as famine, pestilence, and the like, that in essence brought 'balance' to the overpopulation equation. Shouldn't we be willing to implement extreme measures to avoid these horrors? Sure, but are the dire predictions true? Hardly.

Despite the fact that higher development lowers birth rates, many of the same predictors of doom decry development as worse than overpopulation.

We've already had too much economic growth in the US. Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure. - Paul Ehrlich, author of Population Bomb and Population Explosion.

In essence this brand of environmentalism is a dead end. It offers stop signs instead of solutions and pessimistic predictions instead of facts. No one can predict the future but I think it's far more likely that doom would follow the implementation of Paul Ehrlich 'solutions' to the problems he says faces us.

In nature there's a word for the kind of 'sustainability' these prophets advocate: stagnation. Death. The opposite of movement and 'animation' if you will. It's certainly not progressive in any sense. It's regressive.

So let me just reiterate: there's too much pollution from automobiles, but the good news is that we will run out of fuel for those vehicles shortly thereby eliminating that source of pollution. But we should probably stop driving now anyway just to be safe. Mandatory pedestrianism! Also, there are too many people on the planet, but don't stop having profligate sexual relations--uh, just wear a condom. If that fails there's always abortion. (For the good of the planet of course.)

Posted by Eric Simonson at November 24, 2004 2:10 AM