Human consumption: Flying in the face of logic

"Forty years after dropping his Population Bomb into the environment debate, Paul Ehrlich is still railing at man’s destructiveness.

Not surprisingly, the second part of his message - that society must find ways to limit population growth - drew howls of protest. The left saw it as immoral, and feared that the right would use the idea of overpopulation to promote only the right kind of social or ethnic bloodlines. The right worried that population control might limit the rights of individuals. And virtually every one objected to the discussion of human reproduction as a condition of food and habitat as if discussing, say, a population of fruit flies.

Forty years on, the message from Ehrlich, now 76 and the Bing professor of population studies in the department of biological sciences at Stanford, has barely mellowed. He and his wife have just published a new book, The Dominant Animal, the central theme of which is how one species, Homo sapiens, has become so powerful that it can significantly undermine the Earth’s ability to support much of life."

As for myself, I no longer consider myself part of the “left” but I count myself as a liberal green.

The issue of consumption, Ehrlich believes, may be more thorny even than population. So entrenched is the culture of consumption, that debate in the US tends reflexively to skip over the question of curbing domestic energy use and carbon emissions to the question of how to curb growing Indian and Chinese pollution. “Over 50 or 60 years, we turned the US from a country for people to a country for cars,” Ehrlich argues. “We should be spending the next 50 years reversing that.”

Yes, the developed world can sometimes be hypocritical. But if you are really interested in actually stopping Chinese consumption pollution and consumption, stop buying their goods which will help weaken the renminbi so their ability to purchase oil in foreign markets will be reduced.

Actually I think the debate is more people in the US crabbing about oil prices without regard to China or India. A smaller one is balking at making sweeping evironmental regulations, unless China and India go along with it, due to economic concerns. Then smaller yet is arguments like his – the US is hypocritical.

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