Sunday, July 01, 2007

Environmentalist Malthusianism

Frank Furedi of Spiked Online does an excellent job of explaining the radical misanthropy that underlies much of modern environmentalism:

Where in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Malthusians warned that population growth threatened people with starvation, today’s Malthusians denounce people for threatening the planet by consuming too much. As a result, contemporary Malthusianism has an unusually strident and misanthrophic streak. In the West, the population-control lobby castigates those who have large families for being environmentally irresponsible. Having children, especially lots of children, is now discussed as an ‘eco-crime’ on a par with pollution. From this perspective, a new human life is seen as little more than another producer of carbon; new life is seen as a form of pollution. So it would be better, the Malthusians argue, if these new human lives did not exist at all. As one Malthusian crusader notes: ‘A non-existent person has no environmental footprint; the emission “saving” is instant and total.’ This preference for the non-existent over the existent speaks to a powerful anti-humanist sensibility. And it is not only eccentric and isolated misanthropes who value ‘non-existence’ as being somehow morally superior to existence – rather, this outlook is symptomatic of a wider trend for devaluing the status of human life today.
For an elegant response to the classic Malthusian argument, see the writing of Julian Simon and, more recently, of Indur Goklany.


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