A Birther Myth that Won’t Die

by Don Boudreaux on August 9, 2012

in Environment, Myths and Fallacies, Population

Here’s a letter to PsychologyToday.com:

At your blog “EcoMind,” Sandy Olliges lists a slew of problems, such as global warming, allegedly sparked or worsened by “overpopulation” (“Children of the World,” Aug. 8).  You’d think that the fact that billions more people today live far-longer, much-healthier, and vastly richer lives than were lived by all but a small handful of nobles and clerics when the earth’s population was much smaller would cause Ms. Olliges to pause before asserting that “reducing our population is in the best interest of our species.”

But pause she does not.

So I’ve a question for her: why single-out birth control as the solution to the alleged problem of overpopulation?  Why not also call for policies that reduce human life-expectancy?  Unless the vast majority of newborns today are unwanted or are, at best, regarded with indifference by their parents – an extraordinarily unlikely situation – what ethical proposition permits her to endorse policies that reduce the number of infant humans without also endorsing policies that reduce the number of middle-aged and elderly humans?

A 50-year-old woman or 70-year-old man eats and drinks, and emits carbon, at least as much as does a child.  So if Ms. Olliges truly believes that today’s large population poses an awful danger, let her advocate – in addition to birth control – such policies as, for example, prohibiting anyone older than 50 from receiving medical care.  By her moral lights, humanity and mother earth will be well-served as a result.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

And note also that if they work as advertised by their proponents, programs such as Medicare, Obamacare, and Social Security are questionable policies that contribute to global warming, species loss, deforestation, urban sprawl…..

….

I’m very disappointed, by the way, to discover that Judge Richard Posner is among those who believe that the globe is overpopulated.

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