In the most perniciously inane but representative comment that a socialist politician could make, an MP from London, Ontario told us that “since there is no humane method of reducing global population, we must look to alternative solutions to reduce ecological impacts.” Of course, as a leftist, she claimed that those solutions involved redistributive justice between classes, nations and hemispheres, all underwritten by her assumption that enough exists to indefinitely satisfy the needs of all.
Her contention was idiotic on two counts. Firstly, her premises are patently false. The “humane” avenues to population stabilization and reduction have not been exhausted. Access to family planning is still not available to vast numbers of women, who remain uneducated and un-empowered. Pro-natalist incentives are the policy of too many governments and foreign aid is not made conditional on birth control. Population control has not failed because it has not really been tried, China and India notwithstanding.
Her position is also nonsensical for another reason. Suppose she is right. Suppose there is no effective, humane method of achieving population control. So what? Why not then try “inhumane” methods? The Pianka solution, for example. Killing off 90% of the world’s population with the distribution of an air-born virus sounds horrifying to most, but less horrifying, surely, than our total extinction. Would you not amputate your gangrenous legs to save your life? Humanitarianism is a poor excuse for mass suicide---the ultimate penalty for our collective unwillingness to deal with overpopulation.
I am the captain of a lifeboat filled beyond its safe carrying capacity. Our ship went down and the frigid waters are littered with hundreds of desperately cold swimmers. Unfortunately our boat is designed to be seaworthy to a limit of only 20 passengers. In an impulsive fit of irresponsibility, I launched it with 30 aboard due to my too human weakness to let emotion prevail over rational judgment.
Now, in the face of an impending storm, I finally summon the courage to order at gunpoint ten passengers to jump overboard. If the boat doesn’t lose ten people, all 30 of us will drown, that is a certainty. It is a utilitarian judgment call.
Should I relent because a politician on board tells me that this is not a humane method of saving the passengers? Would standing pat with 30 passengers and eventually seeing them all drown in the approaching inclemency be more humane?
Incredibly, some would answer in the affirmative. Some in our boat even think that I should not only not jettison ten people but I should endeavour to pick up ten more. Why? Because we have a “humane” reputation to uphold. Or because of those swimmers calling out for help, most are “people of colour”, “asylum-seekers”, “the persecuted”, “environmental refugees” or people whose skills are needed for our long journey to safety.
One of the bleeding heart lobbyists is a famous Canadian ecologist of world stature who cited Canadian criminal law and demanded that I assist those who are in need, especially when their fate allegedly resulted from my misjudgment as the captain of the sunken ship. I was unconvincing in my attempt to make this man understand that the Criminal Law of Canada did not supersede the Law of Gravity. Number of people, size of life boat. All other considerations are irrelevant.
The notion that we can only deal with problems in an “humane” fashion is a curious one. Had that concept prevailed in the six years after September 1939 it is doubtful that you would be reading this rant in English right now. A “humane” way to bomb the Ruhr? To destroy the Wehrmacht? To liberate the camps? It seems to me that in facing an evil one employs any method that is necessary to its defeat. No more, no less. Was there any evil worse, more lethal , in our history, than the overpopulation which now drives climate change and biodiversity collapse?