Tag Archives: Overpopulation

Are secular concerns about overpopulation science-based or science fiction?

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson

Christian apologists should care about this Weekly Standard story, and I’ll explain why at the end of this post.

The story begins by profiling the king of overpopulation hysteria, a man named Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich’s hysterical predictions were at least partly responsible for rise in public support for secular causes such as abortion, euthanasia, global warming alarmism, eugenics, and so on. But, as the article notes, Ehrlich’s predictions were wrong. Basically, you can think of overpopulation as a the “Left Behind” doomsday story of the left.

One quick example of Ehrlich’s failure at predictions:

Of course, it’s been obvious that Ehrlich was not just misguided, but an actual charlatan, since the 1970s. The late economist Julian Simon spent most of his career exposing Ehrlich’s errors. You may remember the Ehrlich-Simon wager. In 1980, Simon bet Ehrlich $1,000 that over the course of the following decade the price of a basket of commodities—any resources Ehrlich chose—would drop, as proof that Ehrlich’s ravings about the relationship of population to scarcity was wrong.

Simon was correct. Ten years later Ehrlich sent him a check, with no note. Never prone to either civility or introspection—he frequently called people he disagreed with “fools,” “idiots,” “clowns,” and worse—Ehrlich later told the Wall Street Journal, “If Simon disappeared from the face of the Earth, that would be great for humanity.” Hell of a guy.

The part of the article I want to look at it is how this disproved charlatan was supported by the secular left:

In 1990—the same year he lost his bet with Julian Simon—Ehrlich was awarded a million dollar MacArthur “genius” grant and was simultaneously feted across the Atlantic with Sweden’s Crafoord Prize, which was worth just about half a million. In 1993 the Heinz Family Foundation bestowed on him its first Heinz Award. This little trinket came with $100,000 in cash and the most delusional praise possible, claiming that Ehrlich’s “perspective, uncommon among scientists, has made [him and his wife] the target of often harsh criticism—criticism they accept with grace as the price of their forthrightness.” Which is a peculiar way of explaining that Ehrlich was completely wrong and that he responded to all such evidence with ad hominem attacks. Five years later, in 1998, he was awarded the Tyler Prize,which comes with $200,000. The money train kept on rolling.

And it wasn’t just dumb philanthropists. “Serious” organizations continued to honor him. In 2001, the American Institute of Biological Sciences gave Ehrlich its “Distinguished Scientist” award. In 2009, the World Wildlife Fund featured him as a guest lecturer in their flagship speaker series. In 2012, he was inducted into London’s Royal Society, which is Britain’s nearly 400-year-old national academy of science. There is more. So much more.

Paul Ehrlich’s entire career stands as a monument to the ideological imperatives of the world’s elites and the extent to which they exist not just independent from, but in actual opposition to, both science, evidence, reason, and good faith.

So basically, we are dealing with a cult leader who makes false predictions and then is celebrated even as they are falsified. It reminds me of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For just one recent story on the demographic crisis, check out this one about Germany, which has the lowest birth rate in the industrialized world, and is set for long-term decline because of it.

I basically have two issues where I diverge from the consensus view: global warming and fully naturalistic molecules-to-man evolution. Of course, I have scientific reasons to doubt them. But I also have observed for people who support these myths behave – defending their heroes and painting the opposition as crazy. It’s an important lesson to learn. How far will people go to believe what they want to believe and try to convince others to believe it, too?

How is this relevant to Christian apologetics? Well, in Christian apologetics, you don’t just talk about the resurrection. You have to establish your credibility as a truth-seeker, and it’s better if you can do it in some non-religious area. For example, I have a secular Jewish guy who I talk to who is a strong supporter of abortion. He believes in global warming, Darwinism and this overpopulation nonsense, too. If you can show him the evidence that disproves any one of these, it exposes how he has deliberately chosen to believe things that he didn’t have evidence for because he wanted to believe it so badly.

Demonstrating mastery at disproving the secular left’s myths in one area clears the way for getting them to rethink what they believe and why in every area. It’s important for Christians not to appear desperate. We cannot just fixate on the gospel and salvation and try to rush people to a conversion in 5 minutes by threatening them with Hell. We have to show them that Christianity should be adopted because it’s true, because it’s the end result of a process of thinking clearly. Thinking clearly in one area is evidence to our audience that we can at least in principle be thinking clearly about religious issues, too.

And this is another reason to be responsible and wise with your life decisions. Don’t study junk in school. Don’t work easy jobs. Don’t waste all your money on fun and thrills. Don’t lack self-control. People judge your ideas by how successful you have been in your education and profession. So make decisions that show them that you are competent, not crazy. If you present yourself as a an irresponsible, out-of-control thrill seeker who has not succeeded in your education, career and finances, then you’ll have no credibility with a secular audience before you even open your mouth. Be a person who gathers respect because you know what you are doing. If you want to succeed at evangelism, you have to heed this warning and avoid doing the easy thing just because it feels good.

Yale University Press book: fertility rates are in decline worldwide

I saw this article about a Yale University Press book on demographics, posted at Yale University’s web site.

Excerpt:

It’s no surprise that the world’s population is at an all-time high – exceeding 7 billion – although many might not know that it increased by 5 billion during the past century alone, rising from less than 2 billion in 1914. And many people would be surprised – even shocked –  to know that over the past three decades, fertility rates have plummeted in many parts of the world, including China, Japan and even significant regions of India.

These Asian giants have not been alone. In much of Europe, North America, East Asia and elsewhere, the average number of children born to women during the course of their childbearing years has fallen to unprecedentedly low levels.

Our new book, The Global Spread of Fertility Decline: Population, Fear, and Uncertainty (Yale University Press, 2013) analyzes these trends and the demographic, political and economic consequences and uncertainties as low fertility has become a global phenomenon. Like other facets of globalization, low fertility rates are by no means universal: High fertility persists in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of the Middle East, but elsewhere low fertility is more the rule than the exception. These underlying trends in childbearing mean that in the near future the rate of population growth both in Europe and Asia are likely to decline. The world is not on a path of unrestrained demographic growth, as some believe. People all over the world have hit the brakes.

It’s strange because a lot of people on the secular left are worried about overpopulation, which is one of the factors causing them to push for abortion – and even subsidized abortion.

Take a half-hour and watch this Discovery Institute documentary on environmental extremism

It runs for 31 minutes.

Description:

Are humans the enemy? Should pigs and peas have constitutional rights? The War on Humans is a 31-minute documentary that critiques growing efforts to disparage the value of humans in the name of saving the planet. The documentary investigates the views of anti-human activists who want to grant legal rights to animals, plants, and “Mother Earth,” and who want to reduce the human population by up to 90%. The video features Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith, author of a companion e-book with the same title.

Fascinating!

Podcasts

And there are some podcasts to go with it for those who like podcasts:

Podcast 1:

On this episode of ID the Future, hear from bioethicist Wesley J. Smith as he talks about his new book The War on Humans, also adapted as a documentary film. In this first podcast of the series, Smith discusses what makes humans unique among the creatures of the earth, and why it matters: “Universal human rights are at stake. The intrinsic dignity of human life is at stake. The understanding of our unique place in the world, both in terms of or value and in terms of obligation, they are at stake.” Listen in!

The MP3 is here.

Podcast 2:

On this episode of ID the Future, hear from bioethicist Wesley J. Smith as he continues his conversation on his new book The War on Humans, also adapted as a documentary film. In this second podcast of the series, you’ll hear about how the conservation movement turned into an anti-human movement, and how this affects humans, especially in the developing world and in marginalized people groups.

The MP3 is here.

Podcast 3:

On this episode of ID the Future, hear from bioethicist Wesley J. Smith as he continues his conversation on his new book The War on Humans, also adapted as a documentary film. In this third podcast of the series, you’ll hear about the legal movement to establish legal rights for animals, and even plants. Smith examines the meaning of the term “personhood” and its implications for human rights.

The MP3 is here.

A recent story about eco-terrorism was in the news.

 

United Nations climate chief explains the real motive of global warming alarmism

Previously, I’ve documented many problems with global warming, and I’ve also noted that contrary to the predictions of the global warming socialists, we have had no significant warming in 17 years and Arctic ice is at a 35-year high. If global warmists are trying to convince us of something that is true, then they will have to show us better evidence for their views. A lot of us have given up on global warming as science, especially after the whole Climategate scandal, where it was proved that scientists at the University of East Anglia sent e-mails showing how they were trying to “hide the decline” in temperatures and suppress scientific articles critical of their theories.

My good friend Letitia posted this Daily Caller article, which discusses a possible motive for pushing a theory that is in conflict with the evidence we have.

Excerpt: (links removed)

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said that democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model.

China may be the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and struggling with major pollution problems of their own, but the country is “doing it right” when it comes to fighting global warming says Figueres.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”

Figueres added that the deep partisan divide in the U.S. Congress is “very detrimental” to passing any sort of legislation to fight global warming. The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, can push key policies and reforms all on its own. The country’s national legislature largely enforces the decisions made by the party’s Central Committee and other executive offices.

Communism was responsible for the deaths of about 94 million people in China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe in the 20th Century. China alone was responsible for 65 million of those deaths under communist rule.

Environmentalists often hail China as a model for fighting global warming, since they are a “leader” in renewable energy. The country set a goal of getting 15 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. In 2012, China got 9 percent of its power from renewables — the U.S. by contrast got 11 percent in 2012.

However, the country still gets 90 percent of its power from fossil fuels, mostly from coal. In fact, Chinese coal demand is expected to explode as the country continues to develop. China has approved 100 million metric tons of new coal production capacity in 2013 as part of the government’s plan to bring 860 million metric tons of coal production online by 2015.

China has publicly made big efforts to clean up its environment. The country’s booming industrial apparatus has caused so much pollution that the skies have been darkened over major cities and the air quality has heavily deteriorated.

The Wall Street Journal notes that China’s air quality was so bad that about “1.2 million people died prematurely in China in 2010 as a result of air pollution” and Chinese government figures show that “lung cancer is now the leading cause of death from malignant tumors. Many of those dying are nonsmokers.”

The Soviet bloc’s environmental track record was similarly dismal.

Letitia also posted this USA Today article from last Thursday to show you just how far off base this UN communist is.

Excerpt:

Beijing’s skyscrapers receded into a dense gray smog Thursday as the capital saw the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more than two dozen times the level considered safe.

[…]The city’s air quality is often poor, especially in winter when stagnant weather patterns combine with an increase in coal-burning to exacerbate other forms of pollution and create periods of heavy smog for days at a time. But the readings early Thursday for particles of PM2.5 pollution marked the first ones of the season above 500 micrograms per cubic meter.

The density of PM2.5 was about 350 to 500 micrograms Thursday midmorning, though the air started to clear in the afternoon. It had reached as high as 671 at 4 a.m. at a monitoring post at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. That is about 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World Health Organization, and was the highest reading since January 2013.

It seems tha the global warmists are very fond of big government, such as we find in the (mostly) communist China. This is not surprising since many of them receive government money (e.g. – Solyndra) if a global warmist President gets elected. In my experience talking to people about global warming, I am generally able to win the debate about the science, but then they explain to me that we must promote global warming alarmism because we need the public to do something about overpopulation and natural resource depletion. The comments of the UN woman seems to indicate that the something they want is bigger government, which can be used to nudge people away from having more children and restrict their use of natural resources.

So I think we need to be careful when science is being misused to support an ideology, especially one that is obviously false. (Global birth rates are dropping below replacement and shale oil reserves are abundant)

Having said all that, I want to reiterate that science itself is a great thing, and I support it. If it wasn’t for real science, Christian theists would not have the argument from the origin of the universe, the argument from the origin of life, the cosmic fine-tuning, the Cambrian explosion, molecular machines, galactic habitability, stellar habitability, planetary habitability, and so on. We also would not have many good things that make us freer, more prosperous and more healthy. Science is a good thing. But hijacking science to serve a power-hungry ideology (or just greed) is not a good thing. I oppose it.

New Yale University Press book: fertility rates are in decline worldwide

I saw this article about a new Yale University Press book on demographics, posted at Yale University’s web site.

Excerpt:

It’s no surprise that the world’s population is at an all-time high – exceeding 7 billion – although many might not know that it increased by 5 billion during the past century alone, rising from less than 2 billion in 1914. And many people would be surprised – even shocked –  to know that over the past three decades, fertility rates have plummeted in many parts of the world, including China, Japan and even significant regions of India.

These Asian giants have not been alone. In much of Europe, North America, East Asia and elsewhere, the average number of children born to women during the course of their childbearing years has fallen to unprecedentedly low levels.

Our new book, The Global Spread of Fertility Decline: Population, Fear, and Uncertainty (Yale University Press, 2013) analyzes these trends and the demographic, political and economic consequences and uncertainties as low fertility has become a global phenomenon. Like other facets of globalization, low fertility rates are by no means universal: High fertility persists in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of the Middle East, but elsewhere low fertility is more the rule than the exception. These underlying trends in childbearing mean that in the near future the rate of population growth both in Europe and Asia are likely to decline. The world is not on a path of unrestrained demographic growth, as some believe. People all over the world have hit the brakes.

It’s strange because a lot of people on the secular left are worried about overpopulation, which is one of the factors causing them to push for abortion. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the same people who are worried about overpopulation in the teeth of declining fertility rates are the ones who are worried about global warming even though there has been no significant warming for the last 17 years.

Something to think about when people on the secular left claim to be “reality-based”. The universe is eternal, aliens seeded the Earth with life, the planet is burning to a crisp, fatherless children do as well as children of married couples, you can keep your health care plan, you can keep your doctor, and… fertility rates are too high. I think we need to change our perception of people on the left to reflect how deluded they really are.