Humanitarians might see a problem and ask themselves, “How can we get more food to the hungry?” or “How can we help the impoverished?” The mainstream environmental movement doesn’t think like this—because it thinks humans are the problem. Green radicals have a general solution to environmental problems: There just needs to be fewer people—and perhaps even population control.
For Exhibit A in the anti-population movement, look no further than David Brower, the first (and longtime) executive director of the Sierra Club and later a board member. According to Brower, “Population is pollution spelled inside out.” And we shouldn’t pollute, right?
Brower expounded further on these views:
Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license… All potential parents [should be] required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.
But much like the Greenpeace exec who flies to work, don’t expect the high and mighty activists to practice what they preach. Brower himself had 4 (unlicensed) kids.
Things don’t seem to have changed at the Sierra Club, meanwhile. The Sierra Club currently partners with a group called “Population Connection,” formerly “Zero Population Growth,” which was founded in 1968 by professional Chicken Little Paul Ehrlich. Sierra Club chapters partner with Ehrlich, while the national organization calls his 1968 book The Population Bomb an “environmental classic.” (The book’s wild doomsday predictions of mass starvation have long been discredited, but apparently that doesn’t bother the Sierra Club.) Ehrlich also has said that “if voluntary birth reduction methods did not work a nation might have to resort to ‘the addition of a temporary sterilant to staple food or to the water supply.’”
Voluntary proscriptions aren’t voluntary for long. We should keep that in mind as environmental leader Bill McKibben asks people to adopt a voluntary one-child policy.
Anti-population sentiments have even weaseled their way into surprising groups. The Izaak Walton League of America, for instance, is a member, alongside the Sierra Club, of the “Population-Environment Coalition,” a group that believes “addressing human population growth… is fundamental to protecting and restoring natural resources, slowing global warming and protecting habitat.” Even the National Audubon Society has a page on the issue.
Ironically, it is more industrialized societies that tend to have a lower birth rate. And the environmental movement is actively preventing the Third World from moving towards the First in its advocacy against things like inexpensive energy and genetically improved foods that have higher yields or more nutrients. That’s an elitism the late Norman Borlaug took issue with when he noted, “Whether it’s…Ehrlich or the head of the Sierra Club or the head of Greenpeace, they’ve never been hungry” and “These extremists who are living in great affluence…are saying that poor people shouldn’t have roads. I would like to see them not just go out in the bush backpacking for a week but be forced to spend the rest of their lives out there and have their children raised out there. Let’s see whether they’d have the same point of view then.”
If Greens don’t want to procreate, they just might be doing humanity a favor. The rest of us can make our own decisions.