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Contemplating the overpopulated world's doom: An underrated source of Christmas cheer

By J. DeVoy

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, whatever you celebrate, they all make this time of the year profoundly unpleasant.  Those who travel witness the worst of humanity, including people who use black garbage bags as carry-on luggage despite apparently being able to afford airfare.  Then there’s shopping.  And, for students with exams, there’s shopping that must be done during the final five-day rush before the holidays, or even in their midst.

The worst part of the season, however, is the people.  Holiday shopping draws everyone out from under the rocks of their hipster covens, gated communities, gentrifying neighborhoods and bucolic suburbs, and shoves them into one mall.   The shopping experience becomes  a melting pot of class resentment, as history tells us time and again that proximity + diversity = war.

My internal reaction to this validates the equation:

First, I’m not at all surprised to see smug environmentalist self-promotion on a Subaru station wagon.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen that bumper sticker on another car (and in fact might come with that model).  Second, note the italicization of “is.”  I wasn’t aware that there was a controversy about environmental protection being a family value, but thank you for clearing that up for me.  I hope there are other unasked questions that can be answered so conclusively with slanted capital letters.  Finally, what’s with the dings on the back bumper?  Don’t tell me that refusing to look back when driving in reverse is a family value, too.

The driver seems to have confused environmental protection and conservation.  Conservation can relate to conserving money as well as the environment.  It occurs in many forms, such as turning the lights off when leaving a room and taking quick showers, or larger displays like controlled burns of forests at risk of burning down, clearing flammable underbrush, or controlling too-large wildlife populations.

In contrast, environmental protection is anti-family and precludes human growth.  Real environmentalists, the people who have actually thought about the issue, understand that human overpopulation is the source of many environmental problems.  The effects of global warming, whether anthropologic or natural, would be minimized if the human population hadn’t swollen by around 5 billion people within 250 years.  The consequences of ecosystem death, such as colony collapse disorder and massive phytoplankton die-off, would be less significant if 6 billion people’s lives weren’t hanging in the balance.

Worse, this burgeoning population may be exacerbating their own problems.  The debate over anthropological global warming is well documented and does not need to be addressed here in thorough detail.  Some other crises, such as peak oil, have been caused solely by human consumption.  Cow flatulence, a commonly cited source of emissions, would be a non-issue but for human mass production of these animals for consumption of dairy and meat products.

So no, environmental protection is not a family value.  It doesn’t even pass the euphemism test, such as “family planning,” which involves abortion and contraceptives.  The best source of environmental protection is not having children, ensuring reduced competition for fundamentally limited resources.  The kind of people who have bumper stickers like the one discussed here don’t actually care about the environment – just their appearances.  Instead of increasing awareness of overpopulation, they narcissistically drink water from steel canteens, clucking their tongues and stroking their thin hipster beards while parroting Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, trying to sound stoic.  This guy isn’t even in the cool kids’ club of Prius and hybrid owners.  Finally, these are the kinds of unthinking, uncritical nitwits who can’t see the irreconcilability of environmentalism with their view that humans should have the unlimited right to reproduce at will, and impinging on that “right” would be unthinkable.

Except that eugenics is quite “thinkable” and something done in the United States until the 1970s!  David Plotz’s The Genius Factory provides a good overview of eugenics in the America, which lost support after World War II and the practice’s inevitable association with Josef Mengele.  While never targeted at the problem of overpopulation, these policies at least promoted a less idiocratic society by preempting the reproduction of the most criminal and least productive.  This in turn would regulate the population, as high IQ people have fewer children.

Some legal codes exist specifically to address the problems of overpopulation.  China’s one-child policy is famous for pursuing that goal, but arose to limit the state’s liabilities in providing for its citizens, rather than any specific concern over environmental issues.  India, another nation with more than one billion inhabitants, has taken measures to limit its population due to similar concerns.  As fertility decreases within the nation, the first signs of this plan’s success are becoming clear.  Despite not having a strict one-child policy, India’s 11th five-year plan emphasizes the importance of offering condoms, contraceptives and sterilization to women and men.

But in America, the world’s largest economy, no similar provisions exist.  Beyond the environmental effects, overpopulation leads to increased competition for housing and food, both of which saw dramatically increased prices over the last decade, whether warranted by the market or not.  Bringing it back to Christmas, overpopulation leads to intensified demand for products within a limited time frame, increasing the distortion that holiday shopping has on the business cycle.  Without such tremendous demand, there wouldn’t be a need for retailers to center their entire year around holiday shopping and spend almost a full quarter operating at a loss.  This is to say nothing of the environmentally harmful and largely frivolous consumption that’s part and parcel of the season, from lights to wrapping paper to packaging.  Each new member of the consumption orgy only worsens its impact, no matter how conscientious he or she tries to be in using natural resources.

So go forth and spread the word, sons and daughters of the law.  Drink and be merry.  And if someone asks you what you’re doing to save the environment this holiday season, ask them why they have a kid.

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