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Prophets of Doom By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, August 22, 2002


OUR WORLD IS FACING DEMOGRAPHIC DISASTER. We now know this because we read about it in not one but two Tuesday New York Times doomsaying articles.

According to the first article, the reproduction rate of our species is falling precipitously in rich and poor nations alike, and many nations are now giving birth to far too few babies even to maintain their current population. Humankind might soon be an endangered species.

According to the second article, this unexpected plunge in our species’ replenishment rate will produce terrible social and economic impacts. Merely sustaining the same population requires at least 2.1 births per couple. In Italy, e.g., couples on average now have only 1.2 children. So how will a small workforce be able to pay enough to maintain the Ponzi scheme of retirement benefits for a huge population of retired post-World War II baby boomers?

“By 2050, each Italian worker could end up paying more than half of a retiree’s benefits – equal to about a quarter of the retiree’s former wages – out of his salary each year, according to a recent study by Dr. Agar Brugiavini of the University of Venice,” writes New York Times reporter Daniel Altman.

“Something will have to give in cases like Italy’s, [United Nations population division director Dr. Joseph] Chamie said. ‘The age of retirement will have to increase. The benefits to the elderly will probably decrease. Taxation for the workers will probably increase.’” And these same policies in varying degree will soon be required in most other nations, as Fred Pearce discusses in the July 20 issue of the British journal New Scientist.

What these doomsday articles left unmentioned is that not long ago The Times and other Leftist propaganda organs were predicting the end of the world for the opposite reason. Back then the cataclysm was portrayed as a global population explosion that was about to eat Mother Earth out of house and home and plunge our world into Malthusian famine and war.

Stanford University insect biologist Paul Ehrlich was getting rich from his 1968 best-seller The Population Bomb, which warned that famine and world war would engulf us before year 2000.

So sure was this bug biologist of his doomsday crystal ball that he proposed adding “temporary sterilants” to the world’s food and water supplies. Those who wanted to have a child would then have to enter a lottery or go to government officials in hopes of getting a temporary antidote to their chemically-imposed sterility.

Adolf Hitler, an ardent environmentalist, would have kissed Ehrlich on the lips for this ultimate totalitarian scheme. Imagine a world where Jews — or any other group or individual deemed politically incorrect by the ruling regime — needed political permission and a government-controlled chemical to be able to reproduce.

Hitler’s Final Solution could have been imposed not in death camps but within a generation by such tidy Paul Ehrlichean chemical castration and sterilization of all Jews.

Such totalitarian control, of course, is the megalomaniac secret lust of all Leftists.

Around New Year’s Day, tabloid newspapers make sport of reprising the past year’s predictions made by fortune tellers and psychics that turned out to be wrong. The establishment press has no such integrity, especially when it comes to government-empowering predictions by scientists or environmentalists that were wrong.

Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb was flat-out wrong, but the press continues to quote this Pied Piper of Catastrophe’s extreme pronouncements — even those for which he has no more scientific expertise or credential than does the drunk at the end of the local saloon’s bar.

(As James Glassman of TechCentralStation.com reminds us, Ehrlich also lost his famous $1,000 bet with the late economist Julian Simon, in which Simon wagered that key commodities would fall in cost while Ehrlich bet the opposite. Simon understood that each new human born on our planet arrives with a mouth to be fed, but also with two able hands and one brain, humankind’s greatest resource.)

But the Leftist press continues to quote bug and flower scientists about global warming — including doomsayers who three decades ago were predicting a fast-approaching, planet-freezing ice age. (I should know, being author of the 1976 Prentice-Hall bestselling climate book The Cooling.)

As you probably recognized, all such Leftist doomsaying — hothouse or ice age, wet or dry, population explosion or drastic decline — calls for the same remedy. We must have bigger government, more political regulation and control, higher taxes, and permit less individual and private sector liberty if we are to survive whatever is this year’s fashionable danger.

I call all such Leftist scare techniques calculated to get citizens to cough up and surrender their liberty, property, wealth and rights “the Ehrlich Maneuver.”

More optimistic and less socialistic remedies are seldom given prominence by the Leftist media. If our world is warming, could not this produce crops in lands now too cold for agriculture? If human population is now likely to peak at below 10 billion (up from today’s 6 billion) and begin falling by the end of this century, why not rejoice that this will ease all the social, political and environmental stresses we were told to dread in overpopulation?

And if a global birth dearth could bring the problems forecast Tuesday in the New York Times, especially in developed nations, then why are not our socialist friends proposing their own moderate social-planner impositions — e.g., a tightening of the use of abortion and birth control, or tax and other benefits for those having more children, or government fertility assistance for people of European and Japanese origin?

Doubtless these Leftists are waiting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, to announce their plans to reverse the population decline in capitalist nations.


Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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