Global warming is one such issue. The global warming cause in America has made strange bedfellows out of some notorious enemies. During a recent tour of the West, I saw commercials sponsored by the Sierra Club on the issue, only to be followed by one with oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens touting wind power. My colleague Neil Pierce of the Washington Post Writers Group has devoted his syndicated column to spotlighting local programs created to head off future effects of global warming, and is sponsoring a website filled with great information on the subject. Of the many partisan bills in Congress, bipartisan support is often found on legislation aimed at countering the desultory future of our planet should current levels of pollutants not be curbed.
Yet with all of this organizational, legislative and creative energy, few are addressing the main reason why global warming will continue on its destructive path.
Sadly, the United States is well past the point of no return when it comes to ecological and economic damage wrought by the destruction of our environment and it seems the subcontinent of India and the giant Asian land mass known as China are competing voraciously to further ecological collapse. This is due mostly to the fact that these countries have done little to cut population growth in their areas.
From the time marine biologist Rachel Carson started writing her seminal book Silent Spring in 1960, the United States population has increased by 70%, from 180 million to 300 million today. China’s population has more than doubled since 1960, from 600 million to 1.3 billion, and India has practically tripled its population in the same period, growing from 443 million to 1.14 billion today.
Obviously, these increases in population have not only strained natural resources, it also increases the need for basic human necessities that are manufactured. Yet, few if any of the commentators, politicians, and organizations suggest that governments need to control populations in order to reduce the effects of global warming. Why?
In the United States, churches value a large populace. The more their adherents propagate, the more revenues churches hope to generate in the future. Conservative Christian churches, many of which are closely aligned with the major political candidates, still foist a ‘family values’ ethic upon the country, fighting vociferously against abortion and the rights of women to choose what is done to their bodies. With increases in birth rates through the years, plus a huge rise in life expectancy, the rise in population is crippling our ability to deal with resource and environmental decline.
India faces many of the same problems with the growing population. Infant morality rates in India have decreased dramatically in the last century, and life expectancy has risen substantially. The Indian government, aware of the constraints of rapid population growth has attempted on several occasions to distribute birth control to the people there. But such methods are culturally abhorrent for traditional and deeply faithful Indians.
For the most part, the Chinese have no religious or cultural imperative to reproduce. In fact, the Chinese government has prevented an extra 400 million births with a 1979 policy to limit families to one child. Even though the Chinese people recognize the importance of saving resources in their country, the one child policy remains extremely unpopular, and is viewed as a horrible legacy of the Mao years.
The sad moral to this tale is we are birthing ourselves to death. While there is nothing wrong in searching alternatives to fossil fuels, food production and distribution, and consumerism, the fact remains that as our life and lifestyle expectancies rise, so does the damage to the environment. And no one, from the Sierra Club to T. Boone Pickens, are willing to risk being called eugenicists for the sake of global warming.
As the ozone layer erodes further and our planet becomes more subject to prostrating heat and malevolent weather, we might finally come to the conclusion that we have indeed reaped what we have sown. We may finally understand that if we do not take some measure to control human population, nature will- and nature’s way will be a great deal crueler in the end.