December 22, 2009

IT ALL BEGINS WITH HATING HUMANS:

The Green Movement's People Problem (Joel Kotkin 12/22/2009, New Geography)

[T]he main, fundamental problem facing the movement after Copenhagen--which none of the green factions have yet addressed--is its people problem. The movement needs to break with the deep-seated misanthropy that dominates green politics and has brought it to this woeful state. Its leaders have defined our species as everything from a "cancer" to the "AIDs of the earth." They wail in horror at the thought that by the year 2050 there will likely be another 2 or 3 billion of these inconvenient bipeds. Leading green figures such as Britain's Jonathan Porritt, Richard Attenborough and Lester Brown even consider baby-making a grievous carbon crime--especially, notes Australian activist Robert Short, in those "highly consumptive, greenhouse-producing nations."

Yet a slower population growth--while beneficial for poor, developing countries--can lead to a dismal, geriatric future in already low-birthrate nations like Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, South Korea and Russia. And although birth rates are dropping in most developing countries, particularly those experiencing rapid economic growth, it will likely be decades before population stops increasing in most of the developing world.

Besides, people in developing countries have much more important things to worry about--such as earning a living and getting ahead. Fighting climate change ranks low on the list of Third World priorities. The sprawling slums of Mumbai need more energy, not less; they want better roads, not fewer. More economic development would produce the money to help clean the now foul water and air, but also provide access to better education, one of the best ways to assure more manageable birth rates.

Instead of looking to make developing countries even more dependent on Western largesse, greens should focus on ways to help improve the day-to-day lives of their people. Rather than prattle on about the coming apocalypse, they could work to replace treeless, dense slums with shaded low-lying clean houses that are easier to heat or cool. Those interested in nature might purchase land and rebuild natural areas. The children of cities like Mumbai should have the opportunity to experience wildlife other than crows, pigeons and rats.

The environmental movement also might as well forget fighting the aspirations of the burgeoning middle class in India, or other developing countries. No developing world politician, whether from democratic India or Brazil or authoritarian China will embrace an agenda that stifles such aspirations.


There's nothing left of Malthusianism once you take away the loathing for human life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2009 6:41 AM
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