Culling the Herd

Misanthropic Environmentalism


colson2On Tuesday, I told BreakPoint listeners that, according to NASA’s James Hansen, President Obama has just four years to save the world from the catastrophic effects of man-made global warming.

 

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Well, at least one environmental icon disagrees. James Lovelock thinks it’s already too late. All we can do is try to make it through the “culling.” You heard me correctly—culling, as in, “to reduce the size of a herd by killing the weaker members.”

And in this case, the herd being culled is humanity itself. Lovelock is the man who formulated the Gaia Theory, which sees the “organic and inorganic components of Planet Earth” as a “single living, self-regulating system.”

In a recent interview with New Scientist magazine, Lovelock says there’s no hope that we can “save ourselves from climate change.” He dismissed proposed regulatory and technological fixes as “verging on a gigantic scam.” And this is a leading environmentalist!

According to Lovelock, humans can’t “react fast enough” and aren’t “clever enough to handle what's coming up,” especially “since there are already too many people on Earth.” He expects that “the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 percent.” That’s Gaia’s way of reducing human population to a level where they can finally contribute “to planetary welfare.”

While Lovelock’s use of the word “cull” is startling, it oughtn’t to be surprising. It is only a less-polite version of the misanthropic worldview behind a lot of environmental thinking, especially when it comes to man-made global warming.

This worldview sees human beings, especially prosperous, healthy, well-fed, and otherwise happy human beings, as the problem. The solution would be to have fewer and poorer people. Chris Rapley, the director of the British Science Museum has summed it up nicely: “If we believe that the size of the human [carbon footprint] is a serious problem . . . then a rational view would be that . . . the issue of population management must be addressed.”

To be fair, in many environmentalist circles, the issue isn’t “population management,” it’s how coercive and intrusive governments should be on Gaia’s behalf to “fix” global warming.

I say “Gaia” instead of “Earth” or “planet” to emphasize the quasi-religious quality of much of environmentalism. This quality is one reason why the impressive evidence against man-made global warming and the climate models upon which it is based is ignored. You don’t want to listen to heretics.

It’s why global warming skeptics, including renowned scientists, aren’t treated as colleagues to be learned from, but instead are compared to Holocaust deniers. In this account, man is already guilty of despoiling the planet and the sooner he is reduced, figuratively or literally, the better off the rest of life will be.

In contrast, Christian concern for the environment, including the willingness to sacrifice on its behalf, is rooted in an exalted, not debased, view of man. Man, created in God’s image, is called to exercise stewardship in a way that protects the environment and promotes human flourishing.

It’s the difference between caring for the herd and being the herd.

For Further Reading and Information

One Last Chance to Save Mankind,” New Scientist, 23 January 2009.

Learn about the We Get It! campaign's effort to gather one million Christians who care about the environment and poor, biblically, and sign the WeGetIt.org declaration.

Read the Acton Institute’s Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition.

The Planet vs. the Poor?: A False Choice,” BreakPoint Commentary, 4 February 2009.

Global Warming and the Media: Give Us All the Facts,” BreakPoint Commentary, 3 February 2009.

Stimulus through Contraception?: Fewer Kids to Feed,” BreakPoint Commentary, 2 February 2009.