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VIDEO: Bioethics, Eugenics and the “after-birth abortion” of newborns

A video from BoilingFrogsPost.com (2012), shown here in full for the first time.

How many of our readers are aware of the paper from 2012 entitled “After-birth abortions; why should the baby live”? Here’s a screenshot of the abstract:

It’s real. Not a sick joke or satire. It’s a serious, academic argument for the murder of new born, healthy, full term babies. Because they “do not have the same moral status as actual persons.”

Still don’t believe it? Here’s the open letter (published in the “Journal of Medical Ethics” no less) in which the authors “defend” their grotesque psychopathy.

Maybe it’s time for full disclosure of the covertly Nazi ideologies haunting the edges of the neoliberal agenda. Are the current campaigns for “voluntary euthanasia” exclusively and essentially benign? Selling an obscene ideology to decent people requires the slow normalising of the unthinkable. How long before the creep toward tiered notions of “personhood” means we see academic papers suggesting the elderly, the disabled, the chronically unemployed, the “anti-social” and just the indefinably different are also slightly less than “actual persons”, for whom non-voluntary euthanasia is a decent and economic choice?

Transcript and show notes here


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32 Comments

  1. BigB says

    When I was a young teenager, my Dad took a two year sabbatical from his corporate management career to work for the Spastics Society. Yes, in the pre-PC 70s, that is exactly what the charity was called. This afforded me the privilege to spend an extended amount of time with fellow human beings who were somehow more human, vivacious, loving and caring than I was, for all their supposed ‘disability’. This formative experience instilled me with the principle that no life can be deemed unworthy of life. End of.
    So it is not with an academic rationality and dispassion that I can look at anything, I’m sure this clouds my judgement. From my irrational armchair pseudo-academic emotive POV, I have looked at the problem of overpopulation and the crisis of humanity only to conclude it is far too complex a problem to propose a singular and simplistic solution. Especially one that justifies murder.
    I first heard of Ehrlich’s concept of ‘overshoot’ in the 80s, it was a bit passe even then as we were all supposed to be in the midst of famine or dead already – but the beleaguered concept lived on. Apparently, in some academic circles, it still does.
    Where population overshoot occurs, according to my non enlightened view, it is likely to be localised, manmade, and forced (think of the four manmade famines in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen: being lined up for ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the UN.) Nowhere is it a Natural Law or a consequence of the impartial Laws of Physics that uninformed people just keep on breeding.
    In fact, I thought that the global birthrate had been in decline since the 70s; particularly in so called developed countries – where the real population crisis is the ageing demographic. So if the solution is some form of Social Darwinism, why not start there, with the relatively rich resource hungry, but no longer productive senescent ‘useless eaters’ – as Kissinger was wont to call them, before he got old. After all, all those people that just keep getting born into poverty by an accident of geography, in the ‘undeveloped’ world, hardly consume anything. For most of their falsely impoverished lives literally, unfortunately. They can’t, our elderly (and us) are living off their wealth and resources.
    That wealth, and those resources, unequally shared, are being drained – quickly. They won’t last until the population peaks in 2050, and the populations decline and burden of old age really begins. That is, if we are to believe Nafeez Ahmed. Apparently Nafeez Ahmed is the new Paul Ehrlich: according to a leaked HSBC report, the next ‘extinction’ begins in 2018 through a global economic collapse brought on by a combination of ‘Peak Oil’ and ‘Peak Demand’. Let’s wait and see before breaking out the Nembutal, shall we?
    View story at Medium.com
    Earlier in his career though, Ahmed did what I believe that Academia fails to do – look through the microscope the wrong way – to try and glimpse the bigger picture. His seminal work, the Crisis of Civilisation – in film and a quasi-academic book – tries to join the dots between climate change; overdependence on fossil fuels; food inequality; economic instability; and terrorism and foreign policy (though not specifically overpopulation.) IMO, its flaws are outweighed by its attempt at a holistic and interdisciplinary approach – the sort of approach Johan Galtung had pioneered to study (at least) peacebuilding.
    http://www.crisisofcivilization.com/
    You see, when you have a $604.5 bn Imperial death machine, and you extend its funding by $54bn (as Trump just did in his ‘Lite’ budget) – it cares not who owns the resources, where in the undeveloped world they are, what terrorist group it has to fund, or Government to depose, what corruption or violence occurs, what infrastructure or environment it has to pollute or destroy, how many civilians are internally or externally displaced, or who dies in the resultant wars or famine. These are its modus operandii, profit its raison d’etre.
    There is the remorseless consumption epitomised; there is the structural violence of an out of control, psychotic and systemic greed apparent. Even a portion of that budget redistributed could end the by-design-suffering, debt, misery and death for good.
    So, before we embark on the mass Murder of the Innocents, let’s try and attribute the true causation to the ownership class that profits from all this inbuilt structural misery – and keep from blaming the unborn kids.

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  2. Saba says

    Susan George has debunked the theory of overpopulation and food shortages in her book A Fate Worse Than Debt (1998). However, the people who r rulinng the world are aware of the fact that their control rests on keeping humankind hungry, poor and powerless, hence their attempts to create food shortages, giving the impression of fuud insufficency.

    A hungry humanity gives the impression that food ahortage is due to overpopulation rather than unequal resource consumption, (north v/s south within regions, and rich v/s poor within countries) and so ordinary people are led into concluding that the problem is with people rather than resource distribution.

    In this backdrop, the academics do their work, which is to normalize abhorrent concepts by using the apparently-neutral language of science, eugenics being just one example.

    Whether a Black person should be considered 3/4 of a human, or a woman a property rather than a person, or an animal less than human,Eugenics has always always been a part of our history. So this debate about a baby having no self-awareness is an extension of the centuries old argument where some people, who want to play God (by deciding who should live and who should die,) do so in the name of public good rather than admitting that they loathe/hate humankind and are driven by a rage tht wants to annihilate every living creature except their ownselves.

    Since such people will NEVER admit their hatred of creation, it is up to the others to be wary, and not get fooled by agreeing to murder in the name of eugenics. Murder is murder, no matter what name it is called/masqueraded with!

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    • Susan George has debunked the theory of overpopulation and food shortages in her book A Fate Worse Than Debt (1998).

      The threshold of intellectual disability that needs to be crossed for one to become unable to write a book is unfortunately nowhere near as a low as it should be in an ideal world. In other words one can be a complete lunatic and still write books. The threshold of intellectual disability that prevents one from being able to read is even higher, meaning that the books in question can have strong influence on the very large population of braindead scientifically illiterate idiots that fills the world.

      Overpopulation is not defined with respect to food at a given moment. We have overpopulation if the environment cannot support the environmental footprint of the population indefinitely. The population can temporarily exceed the carrying capacity (this is how you get into overshoot) destroying it in the process, but the crash will sill inevitably arrive.

      And it is not food that determines what the carrying capacity is, it is the absolutely required resource that is of least abundance relative to requirements. Which can be food, but it can be also lots of other things, and need not even be a resource in the narrow definition of the terms, it can be a waste sink the capacity of which to absorb the population’s waste has been exceeded.

      Industrial civilization depends critically on a very long list of nonrenewable resources and renewable resources that are being exploited at unsustainable rates exceeding the rates of recharge, and also on waste sinks (such as the atmosphere).

      That the footprint of industrial civilization is totally unsustainable is abundantly evident from the situation with resource depletion, collapsing ecosystems all over the world, climate change, etc. One has to be a complete lunatic to deny the totality of it.

      In this backdrop, the academics do their work, which is to normalize abhorrent concepts by using the apparently-neutral language of science, eugenics being just one example.

      This is why I talked about crazy conspiracy theories below.

      A conspiracy theory is fine as long as there is evidence for it. But in this case it flies straight in the face of the empirical evidence.

      What is the evidence that the so called “elites” are ecologically literate and understand the sustainability crisis and what is to be done about it? There is none, and really, where would they get it from? Those are mostly middling Ivy League legacy graduates in humanities majors, who then spend all their lives plotting and scheming for political influence. They do not spend their time reading about the P-T extinction and its causes.

      There is, however, plenty of evidence to the contrary of your conspiracy theory. The essence of the crisis was well understood 40-50 years ago, plenty of time for whatever program of mass extermination that the “elites” might have planned to have been launched. But what have we gotten instead? We get one desperate attempt after another at propping up the doomed socioeconomic system predicated on the infinite growth in a finite system (a biophysical impossibility). We also get zero discussion of sustainability issues in the media (discussions of climate change have long ago stopped being that and moved firmly in the real of virtue signalling of one’s ideological purity and tribal partisan allegiances).

      So where is the evidence that there is a vast conspiracy by the elites? There is none

      Also, where is the evidence that academics are part of it? The people warning about the sustainability crisis and the impending collapse of civilization are indeed mostly academics. Almost invariably in the physical sciences though. And what else would they really be? It is a biophyiscal problem, not a political one, of course it would be within the natural sciences that concern about it would be most urgent, But the people sounding the alarm are a tiny minority compared to the army of academic economists and all sorts of other intellectual pond scum that are loudly shouting from the top of their lungs that there is no problem.

      And who would you a priori think would get more support from the system? What the physical scientists are telling us is that the system has to be completely destroyed and redesigned from scratch. The economists are propping up the status quo.

      Since such people will NEVER admit their hatred of creation, it is up to the others to be wary, and not get fooled by agreeing to murder in the name of eugenics. Murder is murder, no matter what name it is called/masqueraded with!

      There is no God. Grow up.

      We weren’t “created”, and we are not special in any way, just another species eking out a meaningless existence on a tiny piece of rock floating around in an insignificant galaxy in an unremarkable corner of the universe, who evolved just as all the other species on the planet, and who are subject to the same laws of physics and of ecology that govern the fate of all other organisms. We ignore that at our peril.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a serious, academic argument for the murder of new born, healthy, full term babies. Because they “do not have the same moral status as actual persons.”

    A newborn is indeed not an actual person — it has no self awareness. It is a serious academic argument for a reason.

    Also, the world is vastly overpopulated, which means that we need to move away from the category mistake of picking between “choice” and “life” when it comes to abortion. That does not exhaust the space of possible positions, because those are not opposites of each other. It is in fact a 2D space, i.e. we have:

    1) anti-abortion, anti-choice
    2) anti-abortion, pro-choice
    3) pro-abortion, anti-choice
    4) pro-abortion, pro-choice.

    1) and 4) are presented as the major alternatives, sometimes you will see people espouse 2), i.e. they will say they are on principle opposed to abortion but will let women choose. But nobody ever talks bout 3).

    However, given that the world is vastly overpopulated (scientific fact), and that the vast majority of people have zero intention of even understanding that, let alone modifying their behavior accordingly, it is inevitable that if the problem is to be addressed in a meaningful way, the policy implemented will have to be exactly 3), pro-abortion, anti-choice, in other worlds forced abortions. And infanticide too.

    That is what the cold hard remorseless laws of physics dictate.

    But rest assured, nobody has any intention of implementing that, neither the right wing fundamentalist wackaloons, nor the neoliberal “elites”. Neither side actually understands the situation and its severity.

    Which reminds me: if the Off-Guardian is to serve as a credible alternative to The Guardian, it has to strive for scientific accuracy and towards avoiding at all costs falling in the trap of outlandish conspiracy theories. Alex Jones already exists. There is no need to overcrowd that niche, neither is it going to serve the stated goal of correcting the insanity spewed by the likes of the The Guardian.

    You might get a pass on the 9/11 conspiracy theories, because those are primarily in the realm of the political, but when you go off the rails with respect to well established science, you really lose credibility.

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    • Do you realise you spend nine the tenths of your comment advocating for the very pathological and eugenicist ideas you then, in your concluding para, attempt to pass of as “conspiracy-theories”?

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      • If you can demonstrate that the world is not vastly overpopulated and that civilization is not headed to the same kind of post-overshoot crash that has put an end to most past civilizations, we can have a discussion.

        If you can’t the only right you have is to shut up and listen to what the scientists are telling you.

        However, it is extremely unlikely that you could do such a thing because the evidence is so overwhelming (and after a certain point we’re not even talking about evidence to the contrary, we’re talking about denial of the most fundamental laws of nature).

        Nature neither has any morals, not it cares one iota about human feelings. That has to be kept in mind at all times. We ignore it at our peril.

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        • 1) You haven’t produced any evidence for you own claims, other than airy assertions about “science.”

          2) Even if human population is out of control, most would argue the solution is not, and never could be the murder of innocent people.

          3) We encourage open debate but arguments for the murder of children is actually an incitement to violence, so be careful.

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          • 1) Gish gallop on your end. I don’t have the time to write thousands of words just to educate ignorant people on the internet. That work has already been done by others in more formal settings, how is it my fault you haven’t bothered to read it? Also, in general I don’t need to demonstrate what is common scientific knowledge. Do you recheck the math behind general relativity every time you use the GPS in your car? I thought so.

            2) Murder of innocent people is precisely what we are trying to avoid here. If we do not reduce our population, billions will perish prematurely, that is a 100% biophysical certainty. The question is whether we reduce our population in a humane organized way or we let nature do it, which will be a lot more unpleasant. Nuclear war is very much not out of the question either. Also, a fetus is not a “innocent person”, it’s a lump of cells.

            3) Once again, only ignorant fools think in terms of “morality”. There is no such thing in the real world. The real world is physical, and physics is amoral. What happens in an ecosystem is driven by the energy flows in it, and organismal behavior is primarily shaped by the mandate for inclusive fitness maximization. Those are the cold hard facts. Unfortunately most people choose to ignore them and never grow up.

            4) Nobody is talking about murder of children. Once again, a fetus is a mass of cells. It’s not a child. And a newborn is not a person — it has no self-awareness. There is a reason why that paper was written — it makes a very difficult to refute argument. The proper response to which is not emotionally driven outrage.

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            • 1) You arbitrarily redefine certain people as being “not people”.

              2) You claim a moral imperative for the murder of the non-people.

              This is the Nazi playbook you are opening.

              We repeat the question, is this view mainstream in your area of academia?

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        • Follow up: – we note you have an email address at a mainstream US university. Are such neo-nazi ideas about the legitimacy of murdering those deemed to be “non-persons” mainstream in your area of academia?

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          • This is a highly inappropriate thing to post — you are abusing your admin privileges in this case.

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            • Absolutely not. We have not given out your email address. There is no way for anyone to identify or trace you. We just very much want to know if you are reflecting mainstream academic views when you advocate for the murder of newborn babies

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              • I speak for myself. The facts on which the conclusions are based are common knowledge though. The question is how many are ready to follow the facts and logic to where they lead

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                • 1) How many of your academic colleagues argue that personhood is separable from humanity – not simply regarding the unborn but regarding living human beings?

                  2) How many of them support your advocacy of a mass-culling of non-persons for the good of the planet?

                  3) Can you define your concept of personhood?

                  4) At what age would you argue that a baby becomes a person?

                  5) How about mentally handicapped human beings, the senile or demented, the physically handicapped or those with genetic diseases or abnormalities – do you consider they have personhood?

                  6) How should those you deem to be non-people be disposed of?

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                  • You are making a category error once again by conflating the issue of population reduction with the question of what we do about people with disabilities. The latter are a fairly small number and as such have little influence over the overpopulation problem.

                    Also, most severe “disability” problems are detectable in utero, either in the genome or in the phenotype of the fetus. Prenatal whole genome sequencing will be routine soon, allowing for quick abortions, and eliminating most of the problem.

                    Yes, that is eugenics.

                    No, eugenics is not and should not be a dirty word. The only reason it is a dirty word is that the side that won WWII had to ideologically justify its victory and eugenics became a victim of that imperative (the fact that it was almost as popular in the Anglo-Saxon world as in Nazi Germany was quickly swept under the rug).

                    There is no valid rational objection to eugenics though. If you know that a fetus has 100 CAG repeats in its HTT>/i> genes, there is no other sane course of action but abortion. And if you know that an adult has 100 such repeats, it is the height of irresponsibility for that person to produce offspring that will be doomed to the same horrible fate as himself.

                    The problem of overpopulation can be solved in two ways. By reducing the birth rare or by increasing the death rate. There are no other options, this is what simple mathematics dictates.

                    One way or the other it will be resolved, the problem is that if we do not do it by decreasing the birth rate, nature will do it for us by increasing the death rate. The latter is by far the least desirable option, leaving the option of decreasing the birth rate as the only one available.

                    If we are stupid enough to think that the universe will cater to our whims, we can ignore that. Unfortunately it seems that we are indeed that stupid

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                    • Eight – count them – eight paras and you did not answer a single question put to you. Though you did answer several you were not asked, but which apparently were easier for you.

                      Let’s try again:

                      1) How many of your academic colleagues argue that personhood is separable from humanity – not simply regarding the unborn but regarding living human beings?

                      2) How many of them support your advocacy of a mass-culling of non-persons for the good of the planet?

                      3) Can you define your concept of personhood?

                      4) At what age would you argue that a baby becomes a person?

                      5) How about mentally handicapped human beings, the senile or demented, the physically handicapped or those with genetic diseases or abnormalities – do you consider they have personhood? (you told us soon most physically imperfect people will be aborted, but you did not tell us what should be done with this who are not).

                      6) How should those living human beings you deem to be non-people be disposed of?

                      You have come here advocating for the killing of living human beings (not foetuses) deemed to be non-people by some criteria you consider meaningful. People need to know the basic outline of why you believe this, which is why we formulated the questions above. There is little point in your being here if you only want to evade direct answers.

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                    • I haven’t answered your question for the simple reason that they are mostly nonsensical, irrelevant or not interesting to me.

                      1) and 2) — how exactly do you expect me to have that information? Clearly you have zero experience of being in research, you wouldn’t be asking that question otherwise. You think people carry A4 sheets with their ideological positions on every issue listed in bullet points stapled on the front of their shirts? Or that they talk about much else but research with each other? Well, you’re deeply mistaken.

                      3) I am not really interested in that question thus I don’t have a well formulated answer. In general, self-awareness is usually seen as the defining characteristic.

                      4) The argument does not derive from age, but from self-awareness. The mirror test would probably work well in practice. Human infants usually begin to pass it around 18 months of age, but obviously that varies, thus the test is much more objective than some age cutoff.

                      5) I didn’t answer that because it is a dishonest question — you are lumping all sorts of disparate categories of conditions with each other (and allow me to impute some motivation for that — you’re doing it because you are driven by a visceral emotional and ideological reaction to the issue, which is clouding your judgement; thus you are just looking for something to throw at me without much careful consideration about what exactly it is). Stephen Hawking is as physically disabled as one could get. You are lumping him together with terminal Alzheimer patients. Do I need to explain what the problem is here?

                      For the record, I really hope that I will either die before I develop severe dementia or that it will develop slowly enough to allow me to understand that it is happening and ingest some cyanide pills before it gets too bad.

                      There is little point in your being here if you only want to evade direct answers.

                      Oh, what a supreme irony would it be to get banned both from The Guardian and from the Off-Guardian

                      You should be asking yourself some very hard questions if you make that happen.

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                    • 3) I am not really interested in that question thus I don’t have a well formulated answer. In general, self-awareness is usually seen as the defining characteristic

                      You’re advocating the killing of human beings based on their being “non-persons” – yet you haven’t even considered how non-personhood should be evaluated?

                      4) The argument does not derive from age, but from self-awareness. The mirror test would probably work well in practice. Human infants usually begin to pass it around 18 months of age, but obviously that varies, thus the test is much more objective than some age cutoff.

                      So, are we to understand you would consider it permissible to kill any child under the age of 18-months (or whenever it passes the mirror test) should its parents or carers, or the state choose?

                      5) I didn’t answer that because it is a dishonest question — you are lumping all sorts of disparate categories of conditions with each other (and allow me to impute some motivation for that — you’re doing it because you are driven by a visceral emotional and ideological reaction to the issue, which is clouding your judgement; thus you are just looking for something to throw at me without much careful consideration about what exactly it is). Stephen Hawking is as physically disabled as one could get. You are lumping him together with terminal Alzheimer patients. Do I need to explain what the problem is here?

                      If you are going to advocate the forcible killing of human beings based on assumptions of non-personhood you must be prepared to define what ‘non-personhood” means. By all means make as many distinctions as you need in order to do that. No lumping was intended.

                      Would it be reasonable to assume that mentally disabled people who don’t, in your view, have self-awareness should be deemed killable?

                      BTW – We don’t ban people. We ask them to explain themselves. You aren’t doing very well at that as of now I’m afraid.

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        • “If you can demonstrate that the world is not vastly overpopulated and that civilization is not headed to the same kind of post-overshoot crash that has put an end to most past civilizations, we can have a discussion.”

          What evidence do you have that the world “is” vastly overpopulated?

          I hear you making the assertion, but I don’t hear you making the case. I wonder if you could oblige.

          I mean you are advocating something along the line of “pro-abortion, anti-choice,” aren’t you?

          So the situation must dire. How do you know this? What are your facts? How have these facts been established? By whom?

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          • As I mentioned above, do you require a complete explanation of general relativity every time you use GPS? No , you don’t. Do you ask for a comprehensive introduction to quantum mechanics every time you use a semiconductor-based device? Of aerodynamics every time you are about to board a plane? Etc. No, you don’t, you just trust the science and you use it.

            Now why is it that when it comes to things less pleasant for you you all of a sudden distrust the scientists? Be consistent.

            At some point things become so well established that the burden of proof is no longer on the affirmative position.

            The problem here is that you need to have read hundreds of thousands of pages of literature to fully understand the global sustainability crisis. Do you seriously expect me to reproduce all of that here? Whatever I can reasonably say in the available time will always be followed by “You haven’t provided enough evidence” and so on ad infinitum. You either take the time to properly educate yourself on the topics or you shut up and accept what more knowledgeable people are telling you, just as you do with everything else in your life. You don’t really have other valid options.

            A population is in overshoot when its environmental footprint exceeds the long-term carrying capacity of its environment. Long-term is key here — overshoot happens by temporarily exceeding carrying capacity, during which period things can feel quite good, but the collapse is still inevitable. We’re precisely in that moment in time right now:

            And what determines whether carrying capacity has been exceeded is the resource or waste sink in least abundance relative to requirements. It need not be food at all, although food happens to a problem in our case too.

            Are we wrecking the climate of the planet? Yes, we are. Are we utterly dependent on fossil fuels, a nonrenewable rapidly depleting resource? Yes, we are. Are we utterly dependent on a long list of other concentrated mineral resources that we are rapidly dissipating? Yes, we are. Are we dependent on technically renewable resources that we are using at rates much higher than their natural recharge, destroying them in the process (topsoil, freshwater, fisheries, etc.)? Yes, we are. Are we destroying the ecosystems of the planet Yes, we are. Is a sixth major mass extinction ongoing because of our activities? Yes, it is.

            Etc.

            If only one of these things was true, we would be overpopulated, They all are. And you’re asking me for proof why we have a problem?

            On top of all that we have a socioeconomic system that cannot exist except in a state of perpetual growth (a clear biophysical impossibility) meaning that because of the remorseless logic of the exponential function even if the situation was not yet completely dire it would certainly become so soon enough.

            Which part of “infinite growth in a finite system contradicts the laws of physics” requires proof?

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            • “As I mentioned above, do you require a complete explanation of general relativity every time you use GPS? No , you don’t. Do you ask for a comprehensive introduction to quantum mechanics every time you use a semiconductor-based device? Of aerodynamics every time you are about to board a plane? Etc. No, you don’t, you just trust the science and you use it.”

              Right. Because everytime I use a GPS or turn on my air-conditioner or board a plane, a new-born must die. Because “science.” So shut up, and hand over your newborn, right? Got it.

              “At some point things become so well established that the burden of proof is no longer on the affirmative position.”

              Dear Sir, dear Madame, we must murder your child. Surely you understand. The world is overrun with humans, and enough is enough. If you don’t know that this is the case, if you’ve never had it “demonstrated” to you, tough! Your ignorance is your own fault. Now, now, do stop protesting. There is a scientific basis for what we do, trust us. Life is meaningless anyway. And anyway, nature neither has any morals, nor does it cares one iota about human feelings. That has to be kept in mind at all times. We ignore it at our peril! What? What do you say? If life is meaningless and nature doesn’t care, why do I feel so strongly about having to murder your infant? Because “science!” And “science” says that if we don’t kill your child, we will fail to do it at our peril. And anyway, life has no meaning, so do get over yourselves. We are just another species scratching out a meaningless existence, subject to the same laws of physics and of ecology that govern the fate of all other organisms. We ignore that at our peril. Do you not understand the profound connection between “the utter meaninglessness of life” and “my” need to “murder your child?” Why is this so difficult to understand?

              “The problem here is that you need to have read hundreds of thousands of pages of literature to fully understand the global sustainability crisis. Do you seriously expect me to reproduce all of that here? Whatever I can reasonably say in the available time will always be followed by “You haven’t provided enough evidence” and so on ad infinitum. You either take the time to properly educate yourself on the topics or you shut up and accept what more knowledgeable people are telling you, just as you do with everything else in your life. You don’t really have other valid options.”

              Do you imagine that I haven’t heard these arguments before. With the same level of conviction. Does the name Paul Ehrlich mean anything to you?

              When I was growing up, an impending ice age and overpopulation were already upon us. These were “facts.” It was all incontrovertible. There was a vast corpus of “scientific” literature that “proved” it.

              By the time the early 80’s rolled in, in the span of only half a decade, the impending ice age was now turning into “acid rain” and “anthropogenic global warming” catastrophism, but still we stand on the precipice of the Overpopulation Bomb, despite human numbers having already far exceeded the limits at which mass starvation was supposed to begin wiping us out in our hundreds of millions per year and thereby reduce our numbers to what the planet could again sustain or perhaps set us on our irrevocable path to extinction. Luckily, though, our lives in the greater scheme of things are utterly meaningless. So it would have been a non-event, in my humble but nihilistic estimation.

              <

              blockquote>“A population is in overshoot when its environmental footprint exceeds the long-term carrying capacity of its environment. Long-term is key here — overshoot happens by temporarily exceeding carrying capacity, during which period things can feel quite good, but the collapse is still inevitable. We’re precisely in that moment in time right now:”M/blockquote>

              I “get” the concept of overshoot. The “idea” that humans can become so numerous as to irrevocably compromise the ecologies that keep them alive in their numbers is a “truism.” No great insight, there, I’m afraid. The difficulty arises in appraising whether we have sufficient “evidence” to believe that we are in that “moment “right now. Where are the scientific references that “prove” or at least objectively suggest that resources are disappearing as a result of overpopulation and not something else, oh, like extracting things on the “cheap” so as to maximize profits?

              “Are we wrecking the climate of the planet? Yes, we are.”

              You claim we are wrecking the climate. Maybe we are. Is that the result of “overpopulation” or industrial production being pursued for profit and being done on the cheap? And then you are convinced that we “most definitely are” wrecking the climate, but the evidence isn’t in, is it? Because if you had done your homework on this particular issue, you would know that no climate scientist will go so far as assert with your degree of conviction that this is in fact the case. See two discussions taking place, here, at this website, here and here. You won’t have to have the entire literature on climatology recapitulated for you to “get” that there most definitely is an appreciable and rational degree of uncertainty over whether or not AGW is as much of a concern as the tabloid hysteria makes it out to be.

              “Are we utterly dependent on fossil fuels, a nonrenewable rapidly depleting resource? Yes, we are.”

              I’ve been hearing this argument since I was a child of ten. The world was always on the cusp of running out of oil! Running out iron! Running out of copper! And on, and on. And somehow or other, at this moment, the world is awash in hydrocarbons that they can’t even sell. If the oil was disappearing, rationing would be happening, no? The only rationing that is happening is that occurring by the irrational economic dictates of “for profit only” production and not because they can’t pump enough of the stuff out of the ground to meet “human need.” Hydrocarbons remain cheap and abundant, and though we could certainly reduce our dependency on them to the enormous benefit of the environment and therefore to ourselves, they will continue to be cheap and abundant for centuries to come. Furthermore, do you believe that all oil reserves have already been tapped or even all discovered? It’s a big planet.

              “Are we utterly dependent on a long list of other concentrated mineral resources that we are rapidly dissipating? Yes, we are. “

              So we know where all the mineral deposits are already and we know they are disappearing? Every rock on planet Earth has been turned over? Please. Why do miners continue to engage in exploration, then? Is it that the Earth is being depleted or that the deposits found and already being exploited by these miners are being used up and now they have to go looking elsewhere? And when they look in places they’ve never looked before, guess what? They find new deposits of what they can mine and sell. You seriously overestimate the extent to which mineral resources have been depleted. In fact, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the Earth in this respect.

              “Are we dependent on technically renewable resources that we are using at rates much higher than their natural recharge, destroying them in the process (topsoil, freshwater, fisheries, etc.)?”

              This is standard practice for capitalist exploitation of resources. Everything is done on the cheap and without much regard for the sustainability of the practice or resource. That’s not overpopulation, that’s just bad resource management. What happened to the cod fisheries off the coast of Newfoundland? Was that the result of “overpopulation?” Or was it the reckless pursuit of profit? Did they have to fish every last cod because otherwise people were going to starve? Was that the motivation for overexploiting that resource? If not a single cod had been pulled out of those waters, not a single human would have been imperiled as a result. So “overpopulation” isn’t the only or even probably the most important explanation for the ecological devastation that humans in this day are inflicting upon the world.

              “Yes, we are. Are we destroying the ecosystems of the planet Yes, we are. Is a sixth major mass extinction ongoing because of our activities? Yes, it is.”

              Note what you wrote: “. . . because of our activities . . .” There is a difference between reckless and wanton destruction of a resource and “overpopulation” being the “reason” it is being undermined.

              “On top of all that we have a socioeconomic system that cannot exist except in a state of perpetual growth (a clear biophysical impossibility) meaning that because of the remorseless logic of the exponential function even if the situation was not yet completely dire it would certainly become so soon enough.

              Which part of “infinite growth in a finite system contradicts the laws of physics” requires proof?”

              Now we begin to see eye to eye. There is a difference between arguing that “overpopulation” is the reason the world and mankind are in trouble and arguing that the issue is more complicated than that, and that in addition to numbers, or perhaps more importantly than numbers, in this moment in time, it is rather the “logic” driving our economic practice that is the primary problem. However that may be, one thing beyond doubt is that “for profit production” results in a needlessly devastation of the environment globally regardless of whether or not the world’s carrying capacity is being seriously and only undermined by human numbers.

              In my opinion, this is a greater and more easily observed certainty than that the world is currently vastly overpopulated. And you and I both know that unless capitalism is dismantled, the overexploitation and destruction of the environment will continue unabated, regardless of what the world population may be doing. Furthermore, we also understand that if capitalists get it in their collective minds that people are in the way, they have no scruples about committing mass murder, and you can be certain that the “cold rationality of science” will become their legitimating rationale for culling human numbers. There is no need to imagine anything “conspiratorial,” in this connection. The “ideological” blindness of ‘capital’ is all that is needed as an explanation.

              It may not be obvious to you, but you have wondered into a nihilistic abyss, and that abyss strongly echoes what for many defines a crypto-fascist ideology. Just saying.

              Like

              • Why do I have to explain the faultiness of the “It hasn’t happened yet, therefore it never will” logic?

                A junkie has been on heroin for 6 months, he hasn’t died of it yet, therefore he never will. This is exactly what you are arguing.

                Yes, in the long run Paul Ehrlich did more damage than good with his overdramatic statements at the time. That is correct. But it in no way invalidates the message.

                BTW, yes, we have turned over every piece of rock. Oil forms under very special circumstances, which are very well understood, You need sediment basins or passive continental margins, you won’t find it in the middle of a stable craton that has been above sea level for hundred of millions of years. And the world has been thoroughly explored, aside from the polar regions (but those will not yield more than a few years of current consumption even if the most optimistic projections turn out to be correct).

                Discovery peaked many decades ago. And conventional oil peaked worldwide a decade ago. How can Peak Oil be invalidated when we’re past Peak Oil already?

                You also seem to be deeply misinformed about human nature and what is driving all this. Capitalism isn’t the problem, it is unsustainable not so much because it is capitalism but because it has no mechanisms for controlling innate human behavior, and it is innate human behavior that is driving the overshoot and collapse dynamics.

                Evolution has no foresight, it operates at the transition from one generation to another, which is why it cannot select for sustainable behavior, because the individual exhibiting unsustainable behavior will always be selected for at the expense of those who behave responsibly. That’s just the cold hard logic of population dynamics — if you breed irresponsibly, hog as much material resources as possible, and behave in an aggressive expansionist manner, you will outcompete those who do none of those things.

                Capitalism has little to do with this, it is much deeper than capitalism. Which is why there has never really been a sustainable societal system on a large scale.

                The only cases where approximate sustainability has been achieved are all at a local level and involve some combination of:

                Hunter-gatherer lifestyle, characterized by relatively low birth rate, high death rate and a very low standard of living
                Agricultural societies being lucky to be located around a river carrying sediment replenishing the soil, or near an active volcanic area, the eruptions from which have the same effect. The lifestyle is again primitive, but in addition to that the society is usually a repressive totalitarian hellhole in which the majority of the population is basically slaves to a tiny elite.
                Draconian population control being practiced, including such things as infanticide.

                Number 2) does not work on a global scale, and nobody is willing to live as a slave, so what are the options?

                Note that the choice here isn’t between “murdering innocent children” and business as usual.

                The choice is between the following:

                People educate themselves about the situation and change their behavior accordingly, voluntarily not having children to begin with (no forced abortions would be necessary if people were doing it voluntarily) until we get down to 100 million or so globally.
                A draconian forced population and per capita resource consumption control scheme is implemented worldwide
                Global collapse of civilization and possible extinction of the species.

                If you think the option of happily continuing on the current trajectory exists, you are a lunatic, plain and simple.

                Now 1) is unfortunately not happening because of the same evolutionary factors I mentioned above — in addition to sustainable behavior not paying off from an evolutionary perspective, educating yourself about the issues doesn’t pay off either as it requires an enormous investment of time and energy, which automatically lowers one’s inclusive fitness (because that’s time and effort not spent toward maximizing it in more direct ways). Is it any wonder pretty much nobody makes that investment?

                Option 3) is what we are trying to avoid. So what does that leave us with? It would be nice if people weren’t so suicidally stupid and were wise enough not to have kids. But they are not wise despite out binomial species name. So forced abortions and forced infanticide is what remains, as unpleasant an option as it is.

                But rest assured, it is not happening, because first, the “elites” are just as stupid and delusional as the majority of the population, and second, even if they weren’t, they don’t have the power to implement it on the required scale.

                So the great news is that option 3) is what will happen in practice. Isn’t that wonderful? Such a glorious future.

                you have wondered into a nihilistic abyss, and that abyss strongly echoes what for many defines a crypto-fascist ideology. Just saying.

                The pessimist is a well informed realist.

                I haven’t arrived at that worldview because I wanted to, I have arrived at it because I am well informed about a wide variety of issues and disciplines and have the intellectual capacity to integrate it all into a coherent picture that makes sense and looks to be correct.

                What has been seen cannot be unseen, and red and blue pills exist only in Hollywood fiction, not in real life.

                Like

                • You don’t have to write a treatise, just link to some sources.

                  As an academic you really should be familiar with the requirement to source and support your claims. You have repeatedly sneered at posters for failing to produce data, yet refuse to produce any of your own.

                  You also failed to answer any of the questions put to you about your advocacy for the killing of infants under the age of 18 months.

                  It seems you expected to be denounced but not questioned and have not come prepared to support your contentions with even basic amounts of research.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Let me make sure I understand: according to you I have to quote the original Pythagoras’ publication when I want to use the fact that a^2 + b^2 = c^2?

                    Got it.

                    Like

                    • MoriartysLeftSock says

                      No you idiot – you have to show evidence for the real word application you are claiming.

                      If you were my student you’d have to whiteboard that fifty times.

                      Liked by 1 person

              • Jen says

                Dear Norman,

                Thanks for trying to tell GM that climate change, the neoliberal capitalist system and environmental destruction caused by mining and other activities for profit really do have no connection with overpopulation. The problems we currently have in the world with climate change, environmental pollution and over-exploitation, and debt turn out to be the result of choices made in the context of an overarching culture and its values, systems and networks that privilege the few and the choices they make at the expense of others.

                Overpopulation becomes a convenient excuse to explain the failures of neoliberal capitalism and the resort to deliberate mass murder under the guise of necessary war to remove governments designated as “non-democratic” or “authoritarian” or to remove people whose lands are coveted for their mineral wealth or strategic importance.

                Perhaps that’s why our new visitor omits to put up any links to sources or evidence that would demonstrate the solidity of his / her arguments.

                Liked by 1 person

    • Jen says

      Off-Guardian does strive for scientific accuracy but for that to be achievable, it has to be a platform for open discussion of theories and positions, most of which might seem crackpot and outlandish to you.

      Yet here you are saying that the world is vastly overpopulated with no evidence that suggests that biophysical systems are failing and not the economic and distribution systems that we have, and you are advocating as well some form of “mass extermination” without saying how and where that takes place (presumably in some Third World hellhole populated by coloured people).

      We can do without your definition of “scientific accuracy” – go back and talk to Kevin MacDonald over at the Occidental Observer or Stormfront.org.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nerevar says

      Just curious: Were doctors Joseph Goebbels or Alfred Rosenberg (with their diplomas) educated enough?

      Like

  4. Martin stanley says

    Hmn …step back … let us dare to imagine a world where a certain breed of humans; those with the excess power that they are addicted to abuse (war mongering politicians/war profiteers and wall street bankers, par example), had been ‘gotten rid of’ as easily and efficiently as say … well, half a million kids (aged 5 and under) sanctioned to death, under blair and bush.

    To quote madeline albright, this deliberate act (of mass murder) was ” a price worth paying “. If we lack qualms regarding innocent children slaughtered on mass;well, let us not get all sentimental in regard to applying that genocide quota instead to the polluting scum perched at the ‘pinnacle of the stinking dung heap’ …

    Let us then observe how much greater such a human sacrifice would benefit the majority on the planet … ” a price infinitely more worth paying” .

    Just a thought. Ho ho.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sabelmouse says

      let’s not forget where the nazis got it from. the usa. and partly the british empire.

      Like

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