August 18, 2008 | 13 Comments
The other day, as a favor, I posted a scientific article from a friend of mine, Dr H. Harrister, PhD, who conclusively showed that fitter people have larger carbon footprints than do fatter people. You might remember Dr Harrister from his famous paper showing that zombie attacks will increase due to global warming.
Unfortunately, because of sloppiness on my part, several readers came to the conclusion that Dr Harrister, PhD’s paper was satire. That is to say, a joke. Far from it. That paper was just as rigorous and valid as the dozens that now appear monthly in scientific, peer-reviewed journals the world over.
As evidence of that, we have the essay by John Guillebaud, PhD and Pip (yes, Pip) Haye, MD, in the very prestigious British Medical Journal. The title of their work “Population growth and climate change: Universal access to family planning should be the priority.” For my slower readers, I emphasize that they use the familiar euphemism “family planning” for “contraceptives and abortion.”
These eminent authorities start their editorial by claiming
The worldâ€™s population now exceeds 6700 million, and humankindâ€™s consumption of fossil fuels, fresh water, crops, fish, and forests exceeds supply.
Their statement is true, it must be true because it’s in a science journal. I suppose I am stupid because I have not seen wide-spread global famine or thirst or lack of lumber or sushi or etc. But these appalling conditions must exist or these men would not have said the use of resources currently “exceeds supply.” I am grateful for having learning something new.
It’s actually worse than this because each year there about 80 million new mouths to feed, or about 1.5 million a week by their calculations, which “amounts to a huge new city each week, somewhere, which destroys wildlife habitats and augments world fossil fuel consumption.” Anybody notice where they’re putting these cities? I haven’t been out to the Dakotas, but the people I’ve met from there have always acted suspiciously. You also can’t trust the Chinese.
Although this paper is, as I have said, scientific, they do make a mistake. They say “In 1798 Malthus predicted that as the population increased exponentially, shortfalls in food supply would be unavoidable.” Actually, Malthus did not say this. Malthus predicted that the population (of any species) will always be as large as the available food supply allows, barring war, disease, and other activities that increased deaths or suppressed births. Mathus’s theory was a steady-state one occasionally effected by “shocks.” But never mind that. Everybody makes this mistake about Malthus.
More importantly, the authors turn to “unmet fertility needs and choices”, by which, again, they mean increasing access to “contraceptives and abortions”; the later word they are unable or unwilling to expose.
They say “economists overlook the fact that, everywhere, potentially fertile intercourse is more frequent than the minimum needed for intentional conceptions.” Economists, those with academic PhDs, might have overlooked intercourse for pleasure, but I can assure you dear reader that I have not. I can’t answer for your own spouses, of course. Anyway, they scientifically state that, even though theory doesn’t predict it, “having a large rather than a small family is less of a planned decision than an automatic outcome of human sexuality.” Now I know!
Because of this mysterious, and anti-theoretical outcome, “Something active needs to be done to separate sex from conception” (emphasis mine). Guillebaud and Haye suggest giving out contraceptives (yes, they finally use that word). I’d say free televisions and cable subscriptions would have the same effect. Either way, handing out condoms and pamphlets explaining their use tends to happen in places where the population get richer and starts caring more about themselves than others, which “is consistent with normal consumer behaviour.”
Prophylactics are not the only recourse we have to discourage the “automatic outcome of human sexuality”. We also have soap operas!
The Population Media Centre [in Iran] uses serial radio dramas or “soaps”. Audiences learn from decisions that their favourite characters makeâ€”such as allowing wives to use contraception to achieve smaller and healthier families.
Thank God for government soap operas because, as we all know but rarely publicly state, people really are too stupid to think for themselves, aren’t they? I’d also suggest government-sponsored pictures of dirty diapers on milk cartons so that first thing in the morning as potential parents prepare their frosty flakes, they can see the horrors that await them as the result of the “automatic outcome of human sexuality.”
But what about the global warming menace?
The Optimum Population Trust [where both the authors work] calculates that “each new UK birth will be responsible for 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions . . . than a new birth in Ethiopia.” Should UK doctors break a deafening silence here? “Population” and “family planning” seem taboo words and were notably absent from two BMJ editorials on climate change. Although we endorse everything that those editorials recommended, isnâ€™t contraception the medical profession’s prime contribution for all countries?
Unless I’m reading this wrong—and I admit to being in a different scientific class than our authors—they are advocating that doctors’ “prime contribution” should be contraception and abortion services. So much for healing ills and curing the sick. Well, they are the doctors, not us, and they do correctly note that “Unplanned pregnancy, especially in teenagers, is a problem for the planet.”
They rhetorically ask “Should we now explain to UK couples who plan a family that stopping at two children, or at least having one less child than first intended, is the simplest and biggest contribution anyone can make to leaving a habitable planet for our grandchildren?” The answer is obvious, my dear readers.
Incidentally, Guillebaud is an expert on contraceptives: he “has received fees and expenses from manufacturers of contraceptives for educational presentations, research projects, and short term consultancies.” But so what if he makes an extra buck from the government endorsing his plan? We’re trying to save the plant here, folks.