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May 15, 2007

The Scourge of the Earth

After all the press about the negative consequences associated with declining birth rates and aging populations around the globe, there’s this: "We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion." Say what? Ya mean that 5.5 billion folks have gotta go? Why?

Because humans are "a virus . . . killing our host the planet Earth." That, according to Paul Watson, president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and co-founder of Greenpeace. I dunno, but I'm willing to bet that Mr. Watson doesn't include himself in that virulent contagion that needs to be expunged.

In response, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby does an able job of documenting the many societal and environmental enhancements (not impoverishments) resulting from human population growth and technological expansion. Comparing the present epoch with all previous ones, Jacoby notes,

Education, child labor, clean air, freedom, famine, leisure time, global poverty…by almost any yardstick you choose, humanity thrives as never before. Living standards do not fall as population rises. On the contrary: Where there are free markets and free minds -- economic growth and technology -- human progress and hope are all but guaranteed.

Kudos to Mr. Jacoby. But I doubt that those who consider any footprint on Mother Gaia as a sacrilege will be impressed with the living standards of those who make them. Viruses, remember, are only good when they're eradicated.

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Captain Paul Watson

Of course I never called for the eradication of five billion people. I merely said that the ecological carrying capacity of the planet was a maximum one billion people and that serious ecological consequences would occur unless we voluntarilty over a period of time work to lower populations and not to increase our numbers.

Paul Watson


True Christians would be on the front line to protect all creatures from extinction, if they were true Christians. However, given that most of what passes as Christian now means taking as much as you can without repentance I doubt that I will see anyone of "faith" defending any of god's creatures. I guess it is easier to blast those who are taking a stand as somehow godless then to examine your own faith and see how it is being used to suppress and oppress.

Regis Nicoll


Granted, you never used the word “eradicated,” but I wonder what other meaning one could derive from your statement “Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach.” Having personally undergone cancer therapy myself, I know that my cure involved the "radical and invasive" eradication of cancer cells.

Maureen Ellen Roth

I admire the raw honesty of Paul Watson. For most of us it is dificult to accept many of his concepts but if we take a deep honest rational look at what is happening to all lifeforms on this planet we will understand that urgent measures are indeed needed for the survival of future generations.
If things carry on like this our only hope of a future will be finding another planet to colonize.

Regis Nicoll


Clearly responsible environmental stewardship is, and always has been, a challenge requiring sacrifice, commitment and, sometimes, hard choices. But the suggestion that humans are a pathogen of which the Earth must be radically and invasively cured, is “an urgent measure” that is, to put it as genteelly as possible, appalling.

Frank Nevis

Regis Nicoll,
have you ever heard about metaphor? Allegory? Read more books. You are too much straightforward.

Regarding Jeff Jacoby comment.
Yeah, new technologies, as a result of human development, may be useful to heal nature's sores. But looking backward, if there had been no human development, then there would be no threat to nature and, thus, it wouldn't need to be enhanced by technologies. That's a logical flaw in Jacoby's argumentation.

By no means I'm anti-development. I'm from science myself. And developing new technologies is my job. But definitely human development (and human growth as a synonym, to some extent) should be brought to new qualitive level. Kudos to Paul Watson for focusing our attention on this challenge.

Regis Nicoll


Ah, yes—metaphors. I’m sure that Charles Darwin must have been using that literary device when he wrote: “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised (sic) races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.”

Sadly, one of Darwin’s admirers, namely, Adolph Hilter took those words quite literally. In Mein Kampf, Hilter echoed the sentiments of his hero writing, "If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior. Why? Because, in such a case her efforts, throughout hundreds and thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

I see that same sentiment in Watson’s statement, “Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans,” and in your suggestion that “human development (and human growth as a synonym, to some extent) should be brought to new qualitive (sic) level.”

In the case of Germany, that sentiment expressed itself in the depravity of forced sterilization and selective breeding and culminated in history’s bloodiest war with all the horrors of Dachau, Treblinka, and Auschwitz.

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