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Reason Foundation

Al Gore's Ugly Rhetoric

The latest pseudoscience from the former vice president

David Harsanyi
June 29, 2011

For years, the Sierra Club and other environmentalist groups have warned us that too many babies will destroy the Earth.

"We are experiencing an accelerated obliteration of the planet's life-forms—an estimated 8,760 species die off per year—because, simply put," explained environmentalist Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, "there are too many people." (Well, not exactly that simple when one considers that millions of species had disappeared long before humans selfishly began drinking from plastic bottles.)

In one of his recent works of speculative fiction, The New York Times' Thomas Friedman asked: "How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we'd crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?" Dunno. Maybe we value reality? Perhaps we believe in the ability of humans to adapt and to innovate. Perhaps we've learned that Malthusian Chicken Littles slinging stories about the impending end of water or oil or natural resources are proved wrong so often that we ignore them.

Though, admittedly, it's difficult to ignore the charismatic pseudoscience of Al Gore. "One of the things that we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principal ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women," the former vice president explained at the Games for Change Festival. "You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children (they) have, the spacing of the children."

No doubt capitalism appears terribly unstable to the autocratically inclined Gore, but nonetheless, in this country "fertility management" is not only already ubiquitously obtainable by girls and women but also obtainable by boys and men—and for free at any Planned Parenthood and at many schools. There is also post-fertility management, or 1.3 million yearly abortions—because no one should be punished with a baby.

Then again, perhaps educating and empowering girls should be the job of parents. After all, Gore has blessed the Earth with four of his own offspring. Does he believe the world would be better off without two of them? If not, why does he assume that an "empowered and educated" woman would reach the conclusion that having fewer children is a more logical and moral choice? (Many, including Bryan Caplan, author of the superb new book Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, would probably make a strong counterargument.)

Gore hasn't embraced any nefarious brand of population control. But President Barack Obama's "science czar," John Holdren, co-authored (with Paul Ehrlich of Population Bomb notoriety) a book in the 1970s that toyed with the idea of compulsory sterilization and coerced abortions—to "de-develop the United States." (Boy, the tea party is so radical!) Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, openly advocated for population control to weed out undesirables. You'll remember that in a New York Times interview, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she "thought that at the time Roe (v. Wade) was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."

Whatever did she mean?

If "too many" people are killing 8,760 species every year, isn't it an imperative to do something? What is holding us back? If unrealized human life is only going to sponge off the Earth and decimate our natural resources, don't we have a duty to limit population growth?

Forget that the populations of Brazil and India and a number of other nations continue to grow and life continues to improve. Forget that our own standard of living steadily increases while our population steadily grows. Forget the never-ending ingenuity and development of mankind—especially anything that has to do with fossil fuels. For Gore, people are parasites, millions of little environmental disasters. And when a man embraces debunked 19th-century notions rather than empirical evidence, well, surely another Nobel Prize is in order.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

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