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Monday, December 7, 2009

UK Enviromentalist Group: Prevent Third World Births to Offset Your Own Carbon Footprint

Of course it would come to this. It was just a matter of time.

It has long been the contention of "knowledgeable" people that there are just plain too many people on the planet. White House Science Czar John Holdren co-authored the 1977 book Ecoscience with fellow enviro-alarmists Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich. After seeing Soylent Green one too many times, these three advocated forced abortions, forced sterility, and "compulsory population-control laws." In the mainstream, movies such as The Three Days of the Condor and Seven Beauties both ended with the rather dire prediction that very soon we'll all be at war for food. And, of course the aforementioned Soylent Green had humanity eating each other.

And then there's assuaging of the enviro-guilt of living the good life. I mean vague pledges of turning off the lights and having your personal assistant plant a tree is easy, but if the truth be known, that sort of stuff only does so much. Jet-setting, conspicuous consumption, and air conditioning and all that stuff that's just too much fun or too uncomfortable to give up is carbon-costly. But such is the mindset of many wealthy environmentalists that some believe you can always just but their way out of guilt. So, recycling the old indulgence idea that you can buy morality and forgiveness-- now buying responsibility and forgiveness-- enterprising scammers came up with the carbon offset business. Set up a kiosk in the San Francisco airport, calculate the carbon footprint for your pigeon's flight, and then present a bill. Voila!

Unbelievably, the UK's Optimum Population Trust struck upon the brilliant insight to put these two ideas together.

From Brendan O'Neill at the NRO:

"Rushing to the front of the race for the prize of Most Vomit-Inducing Environmental Initiative Ever Devised, the UK’s Optimum Population Trust — which counts such grandees as David Attenborough and Jonathon Porritt among its supporters — has just launched PopOffsets. This quirkily named campaign is actually deeply sinister: It invites well-off Westerners to offset their carbon emissions by paying for poor people in the Third World to stop procreating.

"In short, if you feel bad about your CO2-emitting jaunt to Barbados, or the new Ferrari you just splurged on, then simply give some money to a charity which helps to 'convince' Third World women not to have children, and — presto! — the carbon saved by having one less black child in the world will put your guilt-ridden mind at rest.

"The Optimum Population Trust is a creepy Malthusian outfit made up of Lords, Ladies, and Sirs who all believe that the world’s problems are caused by “too many people.” It recently carried out a cost-benefit analysis of the best way to tackle global warming and “discovered” (I prefer the word “decided”) that every £4 spent on contraception saves one ton of CO2 from being added to the environment, whereas you would need to spend £8 on tree-planting, £15 on wind power, £31 on solar energy, and £56 on hybrid vehicle technology to realize the same carbon savings.

"How can a mere £4 on condoms save one ton of carbon? Well, it prevents more people from being born, and in the eyes of the OPT, people are nothing more than carbon emitters and polluters — filthy, destructive, toxic beings. As its new PopOffsets website says, next to a picture of lots and lots of stick men and a counter telling you how many people were born while you were visiting the website (3,153 while I was there), 'More people = more emissions. Rapid population growth is a major contributor to global warming.'

"So you click on the PopOffsets Calculator, tell it how much carbon you have emitted and give your carbon emissions a title (something like “Summer Holiday 2009,” it suggests), and then it tells you how much money you must donate to baby-blocking initiatives overseas. For example, if you fly round-trip from London to Sydney — which emits ten tons of carbon — you must pay around £40 ($70) and help prevent the birth of one child in Kenya. Visa and Mastercard accepted!

"This is how the value of human life is calculated by climate-change alarmists. A baby in Kenya is equal to ten tons of carbon, or one Londoner’s holiday in Australia. It has no more value than that, no intrinsic worth, no moral or cultural or human meaning; it is simply reduced to a bargaining chip in some wealthy Westerner’s desire to absolve himself of eco-guilt."

O'Neill goes on to succinctly put his outrage at the thought process behind this nonsense.

"This odious campaign — and the relentless rise of neo-Malthusianism more broadly — has two devastating impacts. First it presents fixable social problems, such as poverty and global inequality, as demographic problems, problems of overpopulation. So in keeping with every population scaremonger from Thomas Malthus to Paul Ehrlich, it shifts the blame from society, with its failure to eliminate hunger or to eradicate pollution, and heaps it instead on to people — and, in this instance, on to the poorest people."


"And second, neo-Malthusianism has a seriously detrimental impact on Third World women’s freedom and autonomy. The most glaringly disingenuous thing about PopOffsets is the OPT’s claim that it is merely helping women to deal with unwanted pregnancies; it is simply providing much-needed reproductive services to the poor of the world. It even uses feminist-sounding lingo to justify its campaign, arguing that it wants to use “education and equal rights” to 'empower women.'

"In truth, when you promote condom use in the Third World in the most scaremongering terms imaginable, as the only sane and scientific way to prevent an apocalypse, as the only thing that can guarantee the safety of the planet and of future generations, then you are not promoting freedom and choice; you are using blackmail — emotional, political, and financial blackmail — to coerce women into doing the 'right thing' as defined by the OPT and numerous other NGOs that problematize population growth. Those of us who do believe women should have unfettered autonomy in reproductive matters (and I am one of those people) should reject the OPT’s warped idea of 'choice,' where women are strongarmed into making one 'choice' only: the responsibly green, planet-saving one."

Okay, this African Offset garbage is going nowhere. Yet, it does illustrate the callow view too many environmentalists have of human beings, and the lengths that they will go through to keep their own consciences "clean" while not impinging on their own lifestyle of course.

UPDATE: Carol over at Carol's Closet also has a post about Oneill's article. Check out her take.


  1. Amazing to me what some people consider logic, or the lies they tell themselves just so they don't have to make a personal effort. I guess the rich can always buy an excuse. The rest of us can't find an excuse.

  2. I ran into this "too many people" argument recently at a social gathering. When I protested, I was told not to worry: the population reduction wouldn't affect American families. Sickening. Of course, these were self-identifying anti-capitalists who pride themselves on their "soft hearts" when it comes to environmental issues.