First they came for my dog's ovaries....

I hate it when patently crazy ideas become respectable. But they do -- especially when they're promulgated as morality. (Even scientific morality!)

Anyway, I found this John Feeney guy (linked in a Mark Steyn column that Glenn Reynolds had linked earlier), and I just couldn't leave him alone.

Nor should I. Guys like him just won't leave the rest of the world alone with their obnoxious ideas, so the least I can do is write a blog post.

Feeney wants to shrink the world's population. Drastically. At his blog, he provides numbers. He wants the numbers to go down from what he's decided is an "unsustainable" 9 billion down to a more "sustainable" 2-3 nillion, and features a long screed by J. Kenneth Smail explaining why "the long-term sustainability of civilization will require not just a leveling-off of human numbers as projected over the coming half-century, but a colossal reduction in both population and consumption."

it is past time to think boldly about the midrange future and to consider alternatives that go beyond merely slowing or stopping the growth of global population. The human species must develop and quickly implement a well-conceived, clearly articulated, flexible, equitable, and internationally coordinated program focused on bringing about a very significant reduction in human numbers over the next two or more centuries. This effort will likely require a global population shrinkage of at least two-thirds to threefourths, from a probable mid-to-late 21st century peak in the 9 to 10 billion range to a future (23rd century and beyond) "population optimum" of not more than 2 to 3 billion.
Well, how's that for a utopia?

In the BBC piece that Steyn links, Feeney explains that this must be made to happen -- for the children!

Billions could die. At the very least, we risk our children inheriting a bleak world, empty of the richness of life we take for granted.

Alarmist? Yes, but realistically so.

As typifies so many morality pieces, there's a lot that the communal "we" must do. For "the children":
We must end world population growth, then reduce population size. That means lowering population numbers in industrialised as well as developing nations.

Scientists point to the population-environment link. But today's environmentalists avoid the subject more than any other ecological truth. Their motives range from the political to a misunderstanding of the issue.

Neither justifies hiding the truth because total resource use is the product of population size and per capita consumption. We have no chance of solving our environmental predicament without reducing both factors in the equation.

Fortunately, expert consensus tells us we can address population humanely by solving the social problems that fuel it.

Implementing these actions will require us all to become activists, insisting our leaders base decisions not on corporate interests but on the health of the biosphere.

Let's make the effort for today's and tomorrow's children.

What he's saying is simple.

Stop having children!

For the children!

Back at Feeney's blog, Smail recognizes the difficulty in changing human thinking:

Obviously, a demographic change of this magnitude will require a major reorientation of human thought, values, expectations, and lifestyles. There is no guarantee that such a program will be successful. But if humanity fails in this effort, nature will almost certainly impose an even harsher reality. As a practicing physical anthropologist and human evolutionary biologist, I am concerned that this rapidly metastasizing (yet still partly hidden) demographic and environmental crisis could emerge as the greatest evolutionary/ecological "bottleneck" that our species has yet encountered.
Exactly how is the population to be reduced by some 7 billion people?

Why were no direct suggestions offered in the BBC piece?

Assuming they're pacifists and neither warmongers nor advocates of direct genocide, my first reaction was that they'd most likely want to reorient human thinking in such a manner that human childbirth would be phased out gradually. At first the idea would be spread through peer pressure, i.e., having kids would become politically incorrect (as in certain Berkeley circles), then immoral, until finally, when the non-breeders became a fed-up majority. Tired of putting up with the irresponsible and selfish breeders who endangered the planet, eventually they would demand mandatory spay and neuter laws for humans.

This was done with dogs, the breeding (or even buying) of which is now considered to be immoral -- despite the existence of a puppy shortage -- and I don't think it would be all that difficult with a pliant population willing to do as they're told. It might even be easier.

Feeney cites with great approval the One Child Per Family ideas of Jack Alpert. (Alpert's plan, BTW is lamely moderate compared to the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.)

Video here:


(Lots of references to the Fall of Rome too. Only this time, it's not homo immorality, but breeder immorality!)

And Dr. Alpert's web site has lots of links to the great leap in forward thinking that worked so well in China.

The very first item is titled "Will having a second child become Taboo?"

Yes, I think having a second child will definitely become taboo, and I'm sure it already has in certain elite Western circles. (Ayman al Zawahiri might take some convincing, though.)

Of course, if remanufacturing morality doesn't proceed fast enough, I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd support more drastic measures of the sort warned about by Eric R. Pianka (who claims he does not advocate them):

"Good terrorists would be taking [Ebola Roaston and Ebola Zaire] so that they had microbes they could let loose on the Earth that would kill 90 percent of people."
But it might not have to come to that.

Humans are remarkably obedient -- especially where it comes to morality.

First they came for my dog's ovaries....

Now it's Paul Ehrlich on steroids.

(If only this wasn't all so damned predictable.)

UPDATE: I said "million" when I meant "billion," and I appreciate the correction from commenter "Byna."

UPDATE: My thanks to Francis W. Porretto for the link!

posted by Eric on 11.08.07 at 06:27 PM


You would think people like him would be extinct by now. Although my own experience with people like him is that they don't mean people like themselves, just those nasty sinners - sorry, polluters - who don't agree with them.

I remember an argument I had with a militant vegan in the same vein. He said we had to reduce the population. I said "you first." He never did reply. I like to think it was because he followed my advice, but I know better.

Dermanus   ·  November 8, 2007 7:37 PM

You have a boo boo:
"9 million down to a more "sustainable" 2-3 million, "

He is referring to billions, not millions.

"from a probable mid-to-late 21st century peak in the 9 to 10 billion range to a future (23rd century and beyond) "population optimum" of not more than 2 to 3 billion."

Byna   ·  November 8, 2007 8:08 PM

Um, ignoring the million/billion faux pas (what's 3 orders of magnitude amongst friends?)

This sort of population reduction is exactly the same sort that the One World Conspiracy yahoos blab about.

The leaders of the Earth want 500,000 slaves to service (the non-numbered) elite. Everybody else is extra flab. Burn them off!

Weird how the same sorts of goofy ideas are shared by the righties and now the lefties.

Can't wait for the Singularity so the Nanobot Overlords can kill us off. ;)

anonymous   ·  November 8, 2007 11:43 PM

There is a counter movement among the very rich to show off their wealth by having larger families.

M. Simon   ·  November 9, 2007 5:34 AM

Without having watched the embedded movie, does it do anything to refute that Rome fell precisely becuase they were averaging one child per couple and were soon outnumbered by the barbarians?

Phelps   ·  November 9, 2007 10:20 AM

"Everyone must have one child per family"

Isn't this the ChiCom's current policy?

doug   ·  November 9, 2007 1:04 PM

The only result of giving people who believe these things the power to address them will be the the persecution of their contemporaries. The planet will boil and freeze as it attended to all along. Not one of their policies will be powerful enough to treat the planet, assuming their diagnoses aren't fantasies. They are demanding enough power to tyrannize their fellow citizens. That must be what they really want.

Brett   ·  November 10, 2007 11:25 AM

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