The Population Bomb is About to Go Off (Again)

According to Nina Fedoroff, the United States’ Science and Technology Adviser, we should all be very, very afraid.

Interviewed on the BBC’s One Planet radio program, Fedoroff came across as a population alarmist in the mold of Thomas Malthus or Paul Ehrlich. Already, she claimed “humans had exceeded the Earth’s ‘limits of sustainability’.” She insisted that “we need to continue to decrease the growth rate of the global population,” and stressed that “the planet can’t support many more people.”

What about the 6.8 billion the world already supports? the BBC asked her. “There are probably already too many people on the planet,” Fedoroff replied.

We at PRI must admit that Fedoroff’s comments make us nervous, though not because we buy into her claim that the world is overpopulated. The most widely-accepted statistics on human numbers and growth — those compiled by the U.N. Population Division — show that fertility is everywhere falling, and that the world’s population should begin declining around 2050 or so.

Rather, she makes us nervous because of who she is, and who she advises. If Fedoroff is telling the President what she is telling us (as she presumably is), then Obama’s chief scientist is whispering in his ear that his economic and environmental problems are compounded by the fact that there are too many of us. Never mind that what she demands we accomplish through government intervention in the family — reducing the number of children born — is already happening all around us.

Fedoroff is also a firm believer in anthropogenic climate change, which is to say that we humans are collectively responsible for heating up the planet. Indeed, she apparently believes that we are the sole cause of climate change, a position eschewed by all but the most radical of global warming types, most of whom acknowledge that other factors — such as variations in solar radiation (think sunspots) — are a factor. Here, too, she may be predisposing her boss to see people as the enemy.

By way of comparison, Fedoroff seems almost reasonable when discussing the extraordinary increases in food production that we have seen since the beginning of the Green Revolution. She decries those who want to turn back the clock on these scientific advances and “go back to the 19th Century,” saying “We wouldn’t think of going to our doctor and saying ‘Treat me the way doctors treated people in the 19th Century’, and yet that’s what we’re demanding in food production.”

Here she is spot on. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports “remarkable progress” in the cause of feeding the world, leading to an actual world food surplus. While there are still those who, because of war, famine, or oppressive government, may go to bed hungry every night, this number is shrinking.

If Fedoroff believes that we are well on our way to conquering hunger, how can she at one and the same time hold the view that there are too many of us? After all, we are producing more food on less land than ever before.

The squeamishness of Obama’s science advisor where people are concerned arises from outdated ideas which emphasize mankind as a consumer, rather than as a producer. Instead of attempting to control population growth — a path that leads to massive human rights abuses — she should instead be encouraging further scientific advances, the free flow of information, and the protection of intellectual property rights, among other things.

Fedoroff may or may not understand that nothing drives the birth rate down like rising living standards. But here is her problem, which is also Obama’s. Rising living standards generally mean more energy consumption, which they are opposed to because of their belief in “global warming,” and their close ties to the radical environmental movement.

But how does one go about driving down the birth rate down without economic development? By taking a page from China’s one-child playbook, that’s how. Fedoroff’s comments suggest that the Obama administration is leaning in the direction of directly intervening in the childbearing decisions of Americans, in order to defuse a mythical “population bomb” and combat an unproven “global warming.”

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

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  • SeanReynoldsNZ

    You know, the way to see if someone truly believes what they say is to see if they act in accordance with their perspective. If there are too many people on the planet, then it means that some should be removed.

    Of course, true leaders lead from the front, rather than kicking their drones from the rear. This means that they personally take th path that they think others should take and lead the way.

    Therefore, I will believe that Nina Fedoroff truly believes that there are too many people when she acts to remove herself from the world. When she commits suicide and leaves behind a note explaining that her reason for doing so is to reduce the number of people on the planet, I will believe that she believes what she says. After all, one can have an idea, but only a witness is truly convincing.

    It doesn’t mean that I will be convinced about overpopulation: Just that I will believe that Nina Fedoroff truly believes that to be the case.

  • Kathryn

    Mr. Mosher makes note that nothing drives down like “rising living standards.” There is an interesting article at http://www.mises.org about social security and population decline. This is the link http://mises.org/story/2451

    I also read in No Place Like Work (by Brian Robertson?) a reference to population decline and the rise of public schools (interestingly, homeschoolers seem to be bucking that trend).

  • Warren Jewell

    Mrs. Kochan put me on to books by economist Julian L. Simon, who considered humanity not only the most precious resource, but also by far the ultimately vital one. I enjoyed his Ultimate Resource 2, which covers his ideas well, and in depth of evidence.

  • http://catholichawk.com PrairieHawk

    Yeah, I’m afraid all right, but it’s not from global warming or overpopulation. Lately I watch and read the news with a kind of sick anxiety and horrified fascination–these are the emotions that have taken me over. The world is changing, attitudes are changing, and not for the better. I believe that God is calling us in these times to stand firm, like great trees, and weather the storms that are battering us. It’s only going to get worse, at least in the short term, before it starts getting better. All of us should pray–for the President, for our leaders, for our citizens, perhaps most especially for our born and unborn children. May God protect us.

  • http://www.ruah.stblogs.com fiatlux

    Very interesting to note that the article on the front page of CE just above this article is about the Divine Mercy, so Prairie Hawk, I pray He will, indeed protect us.

    Related to the Depopulation and the pro-family culture is a recent call for papers as a follow up to the “Contraception is not the Answer” Conference (for more on that, see http://prolifeaction.org/news/2006v25n3/cinta.htm).

    For more information on the “Children are the Answer” call for papers, see:

    http://nfpworks.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/children-are-the-answer-a-call-for-papers/

  • http://privilegedwhitemales.blogspot.com/ jackster

    It’s a long-term plan, but they are pretty tenacious at implementing it. There are 30 action items on this list (see link), and the objective of the enemy of life is to implement them all worldwide. This is their strategy document. We need to develop competitive responses to these objectives and reposition Life as the most desirable outcome.

    See: http://uscl.info/edoc/doc.php?doc_id=49&action=inline

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