There are 7 Billion of Us

Original Article

Seven billion people now inhabit the earth, causing many observers to wring their hands about the need for increased use of birth control and abortion to combat our supposed over population.

Thus, New York Times pundit Nikolas Kristof, complained that “family planning”, has become “a victim of America’s religious wars,” and are, hence, “in part” responsible for the number of teeming destitute in places such as Africa and Southern Asia. I see a different threat. The birth of the 7 billionth person threatens to add fuel to the fire of a virulently destructive anti humanism that threatens to keep the most destitute in the world mired in desperate poverty—as a policy choice—in the name of “saving the planet.” Indeed, we already see serious proposals that would use our supposed over population as a pretext for imposing policies that are both authoritarian in implementation and destructive of universal human thriving.

The scientific controversy over the existence, extent of, and human responsibility for global warming, has raged for decades. But only recently have pundits and policy advisers seriously proposed imposing draconian population control measures to prevent climate change that would legally force people to limit the size of their families.

China has become the model. Its infamous “one child policy”—which led to forced abortion, female infanticide, a nightmarish gender imbalance, and explicitly eugenics government impositions—was once cited as proof of that nation’s tyrannical government. Now, a policy once castigated widely as tyranny, is viewed benignly by some alarmists as a splendid method for fighting global warming.

Thus, UK journalist Alex Renton wrote inThe Guardian in 2009, that China’s “notorious” one child policy “was certainly the most successful government attempt to preserve the world’s resources so far.”

Similarly, Financial Post columnist, Diane Francis, said that “birth restriction is smart policy,” and indeed, that controlling global warming will require “a China one-child policy.”

Chinaphilia is not limited to pundits. Powerful government advisers have also weighed in favoring forcefully restricting the size of families. Thus, the Times of London reported in 2009 that “Jonathon Porritt, who chaired the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population…must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming…even if it means shifting money from curing illness to increasing contraception and abortion.”

“Rights of Nature”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “that all flora and fauna are created equal, that mountains are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” Yes, I know Jefferson actually referred to human beings in the Declaration of Independence. But many within the contemporary environmental movement now would support a revised version granting human-style “rights” to nature.

Don’t laugh. The rights of nature are already guaranteed in the constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia, and both countries vow to bring the matter to the UN for international imposition. Not only that, more than a dozen US municipalities have passed laws granting nature rights within their jurisdictions, thereby allowing any citizen to sue—in the name of trees or other natural elements—to prevent businesses from using their property or developing resources in ways the litigants deem environmentally objectionable.

The nature rights movement has been gaining steam. Van Jones, President Obama’s former “green czar,” is now a board member of the Pachamama Alliance, which explicitly promotes the rights of nature. A “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth” has even been published and disseminated widely, stating in part:

Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:

  1. the right to life and to exist;
  2. the right to be respected;
  3. the right to continue their vital cycles and processes free from human
  4. the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;

Make no mistake: The Nature Rights movement is a neo earth religion that seeks to turn human beings into the equivalent of mere animals in the forest. Its nihilistic intent is to shrink economies, reduce wealth, and depress living standards. In the West, that would create damaging recessionary policies. But in the destitute areas of the world, granting equal rights to bushes, mosquitoes dirt, viruses, and swamps—all parts of nature—would thwart the ability of people to liberate themselves from destitution, leading to shorter and more brutal human lives, and ironically, a higher birthrate since poverty and large families go hand in hand.


Establishing “nature rights” would be the shield thwarting human thriving from the use of natural of resources. The sword punishing those seeking to create wealth from the earth would be a proposed new international law, known as ecocide, intended by its promoters to become the legal equivalent of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

What is ecocide, you ask? Practically any large scale human activity that environmentalists loathe, from large scale resource development to energy generation, along with any accidental ecological disaster. As envisioned by ecocide’s rising star, Polly Higgins, who recently addressed the United Nations promoting a Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights, the This Is Ecocide website states:

Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.

Note that “peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants” is a very broad term, intended to include everything from grass, fish, and insects to mice, snakes, and people. And diminishment of “peaceful enjoyment” would not require actual pollution, but could mean a declining supply of forage or a loss of foliage caused by almost any use of the land, perhaps even simple urban growth.

The primary purpose of “ecocide” would not be to punish polluters, but rather, treat wealth creating development of resources as a felony. Indeed, a recent mock trial was held in the chambers of the United Kingdom Supreme Court finding the CEO of the company developing the Alberta Tar Sands into usable oil guilty of ecocide. Were the proposed law in effect, he could be subject to a life sentence.

The concept of Ecocide is profoundly subversive. First, equating resource extraction and/or pollution with genocide trivializes true evils such as the slaughter in Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia, the gulags, and the death camps. Second, ecocide elevates undefined environmental systems to the moral status of human populations. Even more elementary is the fact that ecocide’s promoters want to destroy prosperity by criminalizing necessary economic activities. Indeed, one could say that human “over population” is ecocide since the space we need to live involves removing the natural “inhabitants from the peaceful enjoyment of that territory.”

Radical environmentalists plan to use the fear of human population growth as an insidious weapon turning us against ourselves. The anti-humanistic threat that these interrelated movements pose to human exceptionalism not only risk the health of our economies, but pose an acute threat to human freedom.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.