Accusation of Eugenics Persists
I’m continuing today to share leftover questions from the GrowthBusters webinar, Solving Overshoot: End Overpopulation or Stop Overconsumption. I’m including responses later provided by our panelists, Paul Ehrlich and Madeleine Somerville. Find more information about the panelists, plus the first 3 questions and answers here.
4. Karen Pitts asked Paul Ehrlich: “Paul Ehrlich, how much money do we need each year to meet the worldwide unmet need for contraception? How much are we spending?”
Paul Ehrlich: Haven’t time to look up, but it would be a trivial bit of the U.S. arms budget.
5. Brian Sanderson asked: “Wouldn’t you also consider poverty as an indicator of overpopulation/overshoot? Aggressive warfare, also… Mass migrations, also…”
Paul Ehrlich: All certainly connected, but, for instance, there is much poverty in U.S. connected to maldistribution.
6. Rob Meyer wrote: Autumn 2016 article in City Journal: “The Real War on Science”. This caught my eye, about 2/3 of the way down:
“Eugenicist thinking was revived by scientists convinced that the human species had exceeded the “carrying capacity” of its ecosystem. The most prominent was Paul Ehrlich, whose scientific specialty was the study of butterflies. Undeterred by his ignorance of agriculture and economics, he published confident predictions of imminent global famine in The Population Bomb (1968). Agricultural economists dismissed his ideas, but the press reverently quoted Ehrlich and other academics who claimed to have scientifically determined that the Earth was “overpopulated.” In the journal Science, ecologist Garrett Hardin argued that “freedom to breed will bring ruin to all.” Ehrlich, who, at one point, advocated supplying American helicopters and doctors to a proposed program of compulsory sterilization in India, joined with physicist John Holdren.”
Paul Ehrlich: Purest bullshit and misrepresentation – writer does not even know what “eugenics” is, and I’ve spent a lifetime opposing it (see e.g., Ehrlich PR, Feldman SS. 1977. The Race Bomb: Skin Color, Prejudice, and Intelligence. New York Times Book Co., pp. 52ff).
7. Rob Meyer then asked: “Comments / Thoughts on the article by John Tierney?”
Paul Ehrlich: When Tierney interviewed me and Gretchen Daily while we were working on the population dynamics of butterflies in Colorado, he asked us about a butterfly in a net “can you hear it screaming?” Give’s you a peek into his IQ, amply demonstrated in his writings.
Dave Gardner: The news that there are limits to growth and we must limit the scale of the human enterprise provokes fear in some people. Everything they’ve been programmed to believe about progress and success has been a lie. That is terrifying for some, and for over 40 years they’ve reacted by vilifying the messenger. Paul Ehrlich is routinely castigated by economists and other growth boosters; not so much by scientists. Great care is being taken by family planning proponents to avoid the mistakes made in a handful of past population policy efforts. One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.
Here’s the 3rd post in this series.
Get your growthbusting toolkit at our store: note cards, small family stickers, t-shirts, bumper stickers and more. GrowthBusters members at the Growth Buster or higher level always get 15% off. All paid membership levels will get free access to future webinars. Membership info here. Learn what your membership supports here.
Trackback from your site.