Why Population Control Is NEVER going to be an environmental priority
I never said that population control ALONE was sufficient to solve our problems. The reason I got involved in this effort in December of 2006---other than the fact that I just learned how to use a computer----was to lobby the environmental movement to put the “P” back into the Ehrlich-Holdren “IPAT” formula. That is all. I never argued that the “P” should replace the “A” and the “T”. Just that leaving it out made nonsense of any comprehensive understanding of our crisis. Then I asked, “WHY have they left it out?” For a year I believed that it was just a matter of political correctness and cowardice. But by Januarry 2008, I realized that something even more compelling was at play. Environmental organizations have fallen prey to Michels “Iron Law of Oligarchy”, formulated at the turn of the century.
Roberto Michels was a European sociologist who observed that revolutionary socialist parties ineluctably evolved into moderate organizations who kept their radical rhetoric but in reality pursued timid and compromising agendas. More than that, they betrayed their democratic ideals by vesting power in a strong leader and his cronies. The best example of this phenomena was the German Social Democratic Party, whom Bismarck thought so subversive that he banned for decades. But by 1914, this “revolutionary” and internationalist party reached the point that it could vote for war credits for the German ruling class’s war effort. Following the vote, the Chancellor looked upon the socialists in the Reichstag, sitting across from their “opponents” and said, “I see only Germans”.
Michels said that when even a radical movement with revolutionary goals becomes an organization, the emphasis shifts to preserving the bureaucracy of that organization, even when the bureacracy’s interest runs contrary to the original aims of the movement. Civil Rights activist Saul Alinsky recognized the truth of Michels’ observations 50 years later. In his “Rules for Radicals”, Alinsky said that he would have to return to a town that he visited two years earlier so that he could set up an organization to fight the organization that he had set up previously. My belief is that all political parties and NGOs should carry an expiry date. After so many years, it would automatically be dissolved so that the cause could cleanse itself of vested interests. Environmental NGOs are obsessed with chasing donations and retaining their donor base. Their pressing need is to keep their staff in gainful employment. And as the money rolls in, the bureaucracy grows and more and more projects demand more and more money. Evangelical churches evidence the same cycle. No matter how much these preachers are funded, the donations only fuel a greater appetite for cash, and we are constantly witness to even more urgent appeals to empty our wallets just months after the last emergency bail-out. How many times does the Sierra Club, the DSF, Nature Conservancy or even the Sea Shepherd Society sound the alarm bell for the poster-species-of the-month? As soon as the Rocky Mountain Cariboo is “saved” by the announcement of a provincial park, another endangered species pops up for urgent salvation. I have seen this movie over and over again. But the root problem remains. Growth.
The question is, does the environmental movement have a sincere interest in solving it? More specifically, does their bureaucracies have a genuine interest in solving it? Next question: Why would they WANT to solve it? Would firefighters really like the prospect of never ever having fires occur again? Would the BC College of Physicians like the possibility of everyone finding the Fountain of Eternal Youth? Would environmental organizations really like sustainability to break out across the land? Sierra Club Directors react with outrage at such a suggestion. They speak of their legions of tireless “volunteers” who work with extreme dedication to fight for the environment. But what they won’t do is tell us how much their directors are paid, or make their financial reports easily accessible. If we demand that our political parties open their books, why is it illegitimate that environmental organizations be required to do the same thing.? The BC Sierra Club is infested with New Democrats and Greens. Many Sierran and NDP activists wear two hats. Is it not incongruous that as New Democratic members or supporters, these people stridently oppose the option of the NDP accepting corporate donations, but are completely tolerant of the Sierra Club accepting this kind of dirty money? If they are aware that corporate donations can and have corrupted political parties and twisted their programs to thwart the public interest, why can’t they see the same malevolent interest influencing environmental NGOs? Are they oblivious of these donations? Or willfully and deliberately ignorant? I find it most ironic that these kind of people typically express scorn at Christian congregations who are hoodwinked by corruption, but blind to their own complicity and acceptance of bribery. Why don’t Sierrans demand that their beloved club refuse donations from the TD Bank and the Van City mortgage empire, to name but two examples? Why don’t they ask WHY these corporations are wanting to buy their silence, and what things they want environmental organizations to be silent about??? Why are financial institutions paying the Green piper? What tune do they want played, or NOT played? The answer should be obvious. But apparently not to Sierrans, or the dupes of the Suzuki Cult. They don’t know or care to know about the involvement of the Royal Bank with the DSF, or that evil energy companies like Encana, the natural gas giant, donate to their favourite crusaders. They don’t see the hypocrisy of Dr. Suzuki demanding that climate change deniers in parliament be jailed but he himself denying that energy companies contribute to his efforts. Who is shilling for whom?
So while I began with a demand that environmental organizations put the “P” be put back into the IPAT formula, I ended with the realization that such organizations have an ineradicable interest in keeping it out. I came to the conclusion that in order to save the environment, environmental organizations must be swept away. They are cops on the corporate take, whose presence only gives the innocents a false sense of security. Better that we had to fend for ourselves, as we are in fact doing.
The behaviour of these organizations has led me to reject the label of “environmentalist”. I am not an “environmentalist”, but a “Malthusian”. What is the essential difference? An “environmentalist” attempts to control the environment to accommodate a growing human population. But a Malthusian attempts to control the human population to accommodate the environment. That does not mean that I ignore other variables, only that my objective is to serve the interests of the environment rather than the interests of this socio-economic system. A system which, as Christine MacDonald shows in her book, “Green Inc.”, the leading environmental organizations depend on to perpetuate themselves. They are not potential allies or friends who have lost their way, or who simply have an alternative view of achieving the same goal. They are my mortal enemies who must be defeated with even greater zeal than those in the boardrooms. A “friend” with a knife at my back is more to be feared than an enemy whom I face frontally. That is how I plot the ideological and political landscape. It is an ethical gulf that cannot be crossed. The gulf that exists between principle and compromise with corruption.