Climate Alarmism and Malthusianism (rebuttal to Taylor)
By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 25, 2020
“The pseudo-intellectual right loves to compare climate concern and action with Malthusianism. I’ve never quite understood what the heck these things have in common.” (Jerry Taylor, October 13, 2019)
“What environmentalists mainly say … is not that we are running out of energy but that we are running out of environment–that is, running out of the capacity of air, water, soil and biota to absorb, without intolerable consequences for human well-being, the effects of energy extraction, transport, transformation and use.” (John Holdren, April 2002)
Jerry Taylor, please read the literature before opining on such matters as energy and the environment. Climate change is the latest Malthusian scare, per John Holdren. And the common denominator of the Malthusian worldview is overpopulation, as Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak document in Population Bombed! Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change (2018).
Some quotations from Population Bombed cement the tie-in:
- Numerous population control advocates have linked anthropogenic climate change to population growth, or tried to revive interest in invoking anthropogenic climate change as the key negative outcome of continued economic growth linked to, foremost among causes, an increasing population.
- … population Bomber” himself, Paul Ehrlich … during a conference in 1968 identified anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions as a “serious limiting factor” to economic growth.
- By the 1970s, Ehrlich, his wife Anne and his collaborator John Holdren raised fears that carbon dioxide “produced by combustion of fossil fuels in quantities too large to contain” may “already be influencing climate” and, as such, constituted one of the “gravest threats to human well-being. . . [i.e.] the loss of natural services now provided by biogeochemical processes.”
- [Julian] Simon then summarized the position of most environmentalists as follows: “But isn’t obvious. . . that additional people and additional economic growth will cause us to use more energy and hence emit more greenhouse gases? Therefore, even if we can’t be sure of the greenhouse effect, wouldn’t it be prudent to cut back on growth?”
- The economist Jacqueline Kasun similarly believed at the time that “by the 1990s the doomsayers had shifted their attack” as they could no longer invoke resource depletion as the key growth-limiting issue. As she wrote, “the alarmists didn’t miss a step. The problem, they now said, was that people were using too much energy and were causing Global Warming.”
- Canadian academic Michael Hart has commented that “for alarmists, climate mitigation policy is as much a means of achieving their larger goals as it is a matter of addressing a possibly serious issue.”
- Canadian academic, historical climatologist Tim Ball, has long argued, the climate change policy agenda is based on certain assumptions ultimately related to a fear of reaching another terrestrial set of limits through overpopulation.
- Maurice Strong (1929–2015), who was described by business journalist Peter Foster as “[m]ore than any other individual. . . responsible for promoting the [UN] climate agenda,” … [stated] “with a growing global population, we will have to recognise that having children is not just a personal issue but a societal issue and at a certain point we may be faced with a need to have a permit to have a child.”
- [Strong] also referred to the need for “national population policies” in his opening speech at the 1972 Stockholm Conference. Strong reportedly stated the following Malthusian prediction at the 1992 Earth Summit: “Either we reduce the world’s population voluntarily or nature will do this for us, but brutally.”
- The first chairman of the IPCC (1988-1997), Bert Bolin, was not only an early convert to the alleged catastrophic impact of CO2 emissions, but also a pessimist on population and resources issues, as evidenced in his stance on the controversy surrounding the 2001 publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist by the Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg.
- John Holdren contradicted many of his earlier warnings of imminent resource depletion by arguing that while the word was not “running out of energy,” it was “running out of environment,” by which he meant “running out of the capacity of air, water, soil and biota to absorb, without intolerable consequences for human well-being, the effects of energy extraction, transport, transformation and use.”
- The second chairman of the IPCC (1997–2002), Robert Watson, would later go on the record with the following line of reasoning: “The more people we have on the Earth and the richer they are, the more they can demand resources. There’s more demand for food, more demand for water, more demand for energy. . . So, there’s no question the threats on the Earth today are far more than, say, 50 years ago and in 50 years’ time, there will even be more threats.”
- The third chairman of the IPCC (2002-2015), Rajendra K. Pachauri … was “not going to rest easy until [he has] articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it.”
- … Timothy E. Wirth, one of the main organizers of the 1988 James Hansen hearing on climate change, and from 1998 to 2013 president of the (hardcore Malthusian) … is on the record as stating in 1993: “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.
Other documentation from Desrochers and Szurmak includes the views of Christine Stewart, then Canadian Minister of the Environment; Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action (2010–2014); Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres ; Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; researchers associated with the Population Reference Bureau and the Worldwatch Institute; Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver of the British Columbia Green Party; and the late climatologist Stephen Schneider
So what are the climate Malthusians missing? The same thing as before: human ingenuity. Desrochers and Szurmak note:
… there is ample evidence of a passionate commitment towards the protection of the planet, but there is no sign of recognition that humanity can do, and has done, more than simply consume resources. At no point do neo-Malthusians admit the possibility that technological innovations and human creativity have a place among the things that deserve a place on Earth. What pessimist activists desire is a consensus on the classification of humanity as out of control and inherently driven by destructive greed, thus in need of top-down regulation by the few remaining clear-thinking and benign autocrats – that is, functionaries – of the global government.
Buyer beware of climate alarmism and Malthusianism.