It’s old news now that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has invited the death loving and appalling and serially wrong Paul Ehrlich to its conference on Biological Extinction. LifeSite reports:
The Stanford biologist champions sex-selective abortion as well as mass forced sterilization as legitimate methods to curb population growth…
Ehrlich called for “compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion” in his 1977 book Ecoscience, as a way to fight population growth…
In a 2013 article, Ehrlich denounced Catholicism as “dangerous” for opposing the use of contraception and told reporters in 2015 that Pope Francis’s exclusion of population control in the environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ was “raving nonsense,” and that the pope was “dead wrong.”
Ehrlich is famous for never getting a prediction right; yet he has been, and is, feted and honored for telling a willing world what it wants to hear. He is an anti-prophet. True prophets, history tells us, who were never wrong, were hated and vilified; they suffered for telling the world what it needed to know.
But never mind Ehrlich. He is old and will soon meet his eternal reward. What’s more interesting is the conference itself. The conference description is a sort of mini-history of the world, but a curious one. Whoever wrote it does not appear to love people.
Our [homo sapiens] ancestors soon spread out of Eurasia and by something like 12,000 years ago, had occupied all of the continents. By about 30,000 years ago they had conquered and killed all other forms of humans that had reached the Northern Hemisphere earlier.
Did they, so? There is least no doubt in the mind of the author. But just who did the humans kill? If they killed beings that were not of our species, in the sense of intellectual species or rational animals, then it is not who our ancestors killed but what. Killing, in the sense implied by the author, is not murder unless the killing is of another rational animal, and it does not appear (by the earlier description) these animals were humans. This is the first indication of an odd theology.
It is estimated that at the time of Christ, there may have been 300 million people globally; now there are 7.3 billion. Some 11% of the world world’s ice-free land surface have been converted to crop agriculture, another 20% to grazing, most of it unsustainable, on natural grasslands.
There’s the word: unsustainable. The implication is that it would be better if things were sustainable. Go ahead, then, describe—in exact, indisputable terms, please—what sustainable means. As this sinner once said:
If a resource is limited, in the sense of it being finite and non-renewable, then any use of it whatsoever diminishes its stock and makes that part of it unavailable to others. Thus any use of a truly non-renewable resource is by definition unsustainable. With one proviso, if used at any rate greater than zero, it must eventually be depleted.
Now non-renewable means that which cannot be renewed. All resources on this planet are finite, because the earth is finite, and so everything is unsustainable given sufficient time. “For the sword outwears its sheath…” But some resources are finitely renewable in the sense that the resource can be used repeatedly, like aluminum in cans. And other resources are plainly non-renewable, such as coal and crude oil. Once they are used up, they are gone forevermore.
And there is much more. It should be clear enough, though, that it is not a simple word, and that predictions carrying vast uncertainties are involved.
Global Footprint Network (www.footprintnetwork.org) carefully measures our consumption of all aspects of the world’s sustainable productivity, and has calculated that in about 1970 we were using about 70% of the Earth’s sustainable capacity, and now that we are using about 156%.
A full 156%, is it? A plain-English reading of this insists that we are already dead. A government can run a fiat-money deficit by the artifice of printing more of it. But we cannot eat food that doesn’t exist. We can run at 100% of the earth’s capacity, one supposes, but 101% is impossible. Since we are not dead, the plain-English reading is out. What we are dealing with is not actual capacity, but “sustainable capacity”, a term so fluid (as shown above) that it can mean anything, and therefore nothing. Anybody can propose a model that has the earth running at whatever level of “sustainable capacity” one wants.
In the same paragraph as the above quotation, comes this fascinating bit:
With a number of nations markedly better off than the others, and the wealthy of the earth best off everywhere, draining productivity from poor nations in the form of energy, wood, and fuel, there is no possibility of improving our situation without the widespread adoption of social justice, both as a matter of morality and as a matter of survival.
The wealthy are better off everywhere? Who knew? But there’s the other magic phrase: social justice. And not just social justice, but widespread adoption of the same. As opposed to, say, technological adaptation? No. “The survival of the natural world, and ultimately our survival, depends on our adoption of principles of social justice and sustainability.” Survival. Strong word, that. It’s opposite is death. These folks believe we can kill the natural world. Giants rocks from space and monster volcanoes haven’t been able to do it. But running the odd backyard BBQ and up-sizing your order of fries will kill the world. Astounding powers we have, no?
What does this all mean for biodiversity, and what does biodiversity mean for us? In short, everything…As eminent Harvard University Professor E.O. Wilson has stated, the extinction of such a major proportion of the life that supports us will probably be the sin for which our descendants will be least likely to forgive us.
Most—nearly all, but of course not all—species that have ever lived are now dead. Sad, ain’t it? And the vast, oh the vast, vast, majority of the dead were killed by those giant rocks, insane volcanoes, and other such misfortunes. Man has even killed off the odd species, or at least had a hand in the killing. Of course, man is also responsible for the outright flourishing of other species. So maybe we’re even, or maybe even ahead.
Every time we hear of a species handing in its collective dinner pail, there are weepy words about irreplaceable loss. Well, and this is so: once gone, gone forever. But then there are no more dinosaur cockroaches roaming about anymore either, and you don’t hear lamentations about that. This hilarious joke relies on an important point. Nobody knows what range of species would be best for human thriving. It is worrying to think of, say, wheat going extinct, but less so imagining modern cockroaches crawling for the last time under the giant Refrigerator of the Sky. Biodiversity for the sake of diversity cannot therefore always be desirable. Would the world be better off if tomorrow there were 142 new species of rat? (Is this conference yet another instance of Diversity mania?)
And did that author say sin? Aye, he did. Suppose this is the correct theological word. Now if it’s carbon dioxide that is doing the killing (as the author later implies), we are all sinners, since we are all breathers. Go to confession. But use sign language.
Nothing less than a reordering of our priorities based on a moral revolution can succeed in maintaining the world in such a way as to resemble the conditions we have enjoyed here.
This much is true.