Talking past each other as the planet gets more and more uninhabitable will likely not be recognized by William McGurn until the rising waters in NYC come lapping at his office door. His April 30, 2018 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Population Bomb Was a Dud—Paul Ehrlich got it wrong because he never understood human potential” comes about as close to insanity as the jumper from atop the Empire State building saying as he passed the 68th floor, “So far so good”.
My hope is that we will stop talking past each other and urge humanistic solutions that will ease the clear crisis of too many unfed, untended and unsatisfied humans, from whence terrorism and discord now descend upon too many.
Doubtless McGurn’s formal education at Notre Dame and Boston University allows us to infer a Catholic bias against birth control, family planning and abortion choice, which ironically allow him to embrace greater freedom for property ownership (are unserved women property?) which he claims are all that is needed to allow human creativity to solve all our problems.
Anyone alive can certainly understand perfectly human potential for both good and evil. McGurn’s main “dud” argument on Ehrlich’s “losing” his 1980 bet with Julian Simon (made when the world had 4.5 billion people, the USA 228 million) is highlighted by this quote:
Julian left us in 1998 but his spirit can be detected in any number of thinkers. Matt Ridley, author of “The Rational Optimist,” is one. The economist Thomas Sowell is another. So is anyone who stands up to say: Give people free markets and property rights, and you will be astonished by how much they will improve their lot—and ours.
Fifty years out, alas, Mr. Ehrlich remains as impervious to the evidence as ever. In an interview two months ago in the Guardian, Mr. Ehrlich decreed the collapse of civilization a “near certainty” in the next few decades. Which may be a good reminder that skepticism is in order whenever someone waves the flag of “science” to justify the latest antihuman nostrum.
Because it turns out hell isn’t other people after all. To the contrary, human beings constantly find new and creative ways to take from the earth, increase the bounty for everyone and expand the number of seats at the table of plenty. Which is one reason Paul Ehrlich is himself better off today than he was when he wrote his awful book—notwithstanding all those hundreds of millions of babies born in places like China and India against his wishes.
Speaking of being “impervious to the evidence” McGurn must not read the horrendous events of worldwide disarray reported daily in his own paper.
I would never discount human creativity and results of same are evident, but, alas, McGurn boosts human freedom for all while ignoring the great issues such as giving women full freedom of reproductive rights. His tribe’s antipathy toward such rights in no small way has allowed human numbers to go from 2 billion in 1931 to nearly 8 today and probably to 10 or 12 billion by 2100.
Surely, if we could manage to eliminate or greatly lessen the impact of fossil fuel, we could make major strides in containing global warming before McGurn’s office is under water, but creativity needs us to educate the surging numbers of the world’s children, many of whom are refugees or in dire circumstances, which his tribe seems to think will somehow learn to feed themselves, get jobs in an automating world and decide terrorism is not something they want to practice. It’s the numbers, Stupid!
The population bomb is not a dud, but now more like a bunch of land mines not defused. Even now the wars around the globe are like exploding land mines whose warnings continue to be ignored by too many doctrinaire religious zealots who keep whistling their silly tunes through the graveyards burgeoning around the world. And if the population grows as many demographers predict to 10 or more billion by late in this century, these issues will not get better.
In truth I suspect many, even McGurn and his Pope, probably know this, but are too willing to counsel inaction or like the Pope crying incessantly about the poor, while continuing to talk past those like Ehrlich whose unheeded prophesy has already happened to a sad degree in many places around the planet.
From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013
By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
Human Population Through Time
Vatican control of World Health Organization population policy: An interview with Milton P. Siegel
Professor Paul Ehrlich: Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?
John Seager: World Population, the Environment and Social Equity (AHA Conference 2015)
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