When Eugenics and Environmentalism Collide

240px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17If you were asked to name a major conflict in the environmental spectrum, I would hazard a guess that the word ‘eugenics’ wouldn’t necessarily take a high place in your answers. However for several decades, leading minds that have pioneered the environmental movement have looked to capping world populations in order to save the planet.

The questions are often raised, according to New Scientist environmental consultant Fred Pearce, about whether people in poor countries should be allowed freedom to breed as they wish. They ask, “Isn’t overpopulation more dangerous than overconsumption?”

Rightly so, Fred Pearce says no, and I imagine so do many of you.

Having recently revisited the American civil rights movement through various mediums over the past week, this strikes a resonant chord as well. Age old views on the rights of Asians or Africans – ie, anything other than Caucasian – should have long been put to bed; but it just is not so.

This is especially confusing considering the almost similarly aged adages explaining that 10% of the planet consumes 90% of the resources. This adage has been shown over and over again to be true when applied to the environmental spectrum.

When you hear quotes such as “Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all,” from a leading environmental scientist of his day (Garrett Hardin said in his classic and still-revered environment text Tragedy of the Commons in 1968), and see them attempt to tie it to something like the environment; and we wonder why the planet is going to hell in a handbasket.

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