Quotations10 August 2007
Here's a collection of quotations expressing what strike me as extremist views. Perhaps they were written at 2am. Maybe the authors wouldn't endorse them all today. I have seen some wriggling on the part of some of them.
The quotations come in three categories - predictions of disaster, hopes for disaster and simple statements of anti-human or anti-Western or anti-American sentiment. At present they are not well organized, and there may be some duplications.
People's statements often are motivated by a more general ideology. I try to understand the phenomenon.
Yet, most of the readily accessible reserves of oil formed over
hundreds of millions of years will be consumed within a single
generation, spanning the years from 1960 to 1995.
- Lester Brown 1981, p. 58
Nuclear power, once regarded as petroleum's natural heir, has become
less and less attractive as its numerous drawbacks come to light.
Coal, the other fossil fuel, is ultimately as exhaustible as oil.
- Lester Brown 1981, p. 58
Nuclear power will be the Vietnam issue of the 1980s.
- Jerry Brown, former Governor of California
We've already had too much economic growth in the US. Economic
growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure.
- Paul Ehrlich, author of Population Bomb and Population Explosion.
The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970's and 1980's
hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any
crash programs embarked upon now.
- Paul Ehrlich - the first sentence of his 1968 ``The Population Bomb''
This vast tragedy, however, is nothing compared to the nutritional disaster
that seems likely to overtake humanity in the 1970s (or, at the latest, the
1980s) ... A situation has been created that could lead to a billion or more
people starving to death.
- Paul Ehrlich, "The End of Affluence" (1974), p.21
Farmers...can no longer keep up with rising demand; thus the outlook is for
chronic scarcities and rising prices (Lester Brown 1974);
Global food insecurity is increasing...the slim excess of growth in food production over population is narrowing (Brown 1981);
Population growth is exceeding farmers' ability to keep up...Our oldest enemy, hunger, is again at the door (Brown 1989);
Humanity's greatest challenge may soon be just making it to the next harvest. (Brown 1995b)
- quoted by Vaclav Smil in his Feeding the World
The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra,
Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque
churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant,
Marx, Balanchine ballet et al., don't redeem what this
particular civilization has wrought upon he world.
The white race is the cancer of human history. It is the white
race and it alone--its ideologies and inventions---
which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it
spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the
planet, which now threatens the very existence of life
- Susan Sontag, Partisan Review, Winter 1967, p. 57.
Hundreds of millions of people will soon perish in smog disasters in New York
and Los Angeles...the oceans will die of DDT poisoning by 1979...the U.S. life
expectancy will drop to 42 years by 1980 due to cancer epidemics.
- Paul Ehrlich, 1969 in Ramparts. (If the context at the end of the article is read very, very carefully, this one can be seen as a warning - not a flat prediction. Note the precision of the "42 years".)
We must ... reclaim the roads and the plowed land, halt dam construction,
tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers, and return to wilderness
millions and tens of millions of [acres of] presently settled land.
- David Foreman, Founder of Earth First! (taken from his book Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkey Wrenching)
We must reclaim the roads and the plowed land, halt dam construction,
tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers, and return to
wilderness tens of millions of acres of presently settled land.
- Dave Brower, Friends of the Earth (FoE) founder.
It was pointed out to me that I had two environmentalists saying the same thing. In both cases, I copied the quote from some other critic of environmental extremism. I'd bet it was Foreman in this case, because the reference is to a specific book.
We must make this an insecure and uninhabitable place for capitalists and
their projects. This is the best contribution we can make towards protecting
the earth and struggling for a liberating society.
- Ecotage, an offshoot of Earth First!
To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem.
- Lamont Cole (as quoted by Elizabeth Whelan in her book Toxic Terror)
This is as good a way to get rid of them as any.
- Charles Wursta, Chief Scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, in response to the banning of DDT (as quoted in Toxic Terror by Elisabeth Whelan) ("Them" refers to "all those little brown people in poor countries.")
I got the impression that instead of going out to shoot birds, I should go
out and shoot the kids who shoot birds.
- Paul Watson, founder of Greenpeace (quoted in Access to Energy, Vol. 10, No. 4, Dec 1982)
The planet is about to break out with fever, indeed it may already have,
and we [human beings] are the disease. We should be at war with ourselves
and our lifestyles.
- Thomas Lovejoy, tropical biologist and assistant secretary to the Smithsonian Institution (quoted by David Brooks in The Wall Street Journal article, "Journalists and Others for Saving the Planet, 1989)
Now, in a widening sphere of decisions, the costs of error are so
exorbitant that we need to act on theory alone, which is to say on
prediction alone. It follows that the reputation of scientific prediction
needs to be enhanced. But that can happen, paradoxically, only if
scientists disavow the certainty and precision that they normally insist
on. Above all, we need to learn to act decisively to forestall predicted
perils, even while knowing that they may never materialize. We must take
action, in a manner of speaking, to preserve our ignorance. There are
perils that we can be certain of avoiding only at the cost of never
knowing with certainty that they were real.
- Jonathan Schell (in his book, Our Fragile Earth, maybe it's his 1982 "The fate of the earth")
A global climate treaty must be implemented even if there is no scientific
evidence to back up the greenhouse effect.
- Richard Benedick, an employee from the State Department working on assignment for the Conservation Foundation (from his report Who Needs Evidence?)
[W]e have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements,
and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide
what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
- Stephen Schneider (quoted in Our Fragile Earth by Jonathan Schell)
Let's face it. We don't want safe nuclear power plants. We want NO
nuclear power plants.
- A spokesman for the Government Accountability Project, an offshoot of the Institute for Policy Studies (reported in The American Spectator, Vol 18, No. 11, Nov. 1985)
Scientists who work for nuclear power or nuclear energy have sold their
soul to the devil. They are either dumb, stupid, or highly compromised....
Free enterprise really means rich people get richer. And they have the
freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in
the process.... Capitalism is destroying the earth. Cuba is a wonderful
country. What Castro's done is superb.
- Helen Caldicott, Australian pediatrician, speaking for the Union of Concerned Scientists (as quoted by Elizabeth Whelan in her book Toxic Terror)
Paul Ehrlich deserves special attention, because his views sum up the anti-human trends of political-environmentalist thought -- trends that frequently manifest themselves in predictions of global famine or plans for draconian measures to halt or reverse population growth. In "The Population Bomb", Ehrlich predicted that the "battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer."
The only real good technology is no technology at all. Technology
is taxation without representation, imposed by our elitist species
(man) upon the rest of the natural world.
- John Shuttleworth, FoE manual writer.
The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and
traded by individuals but absolutely limited by the state.
- Kenneth Boulding, originator of the "Spaceship Earth" concept (as quoted by William Tucker in Progress and Privilege, 1982)
One challenge that I think ecological economists should worry about less is converting more mainstream economists to an understanding of how the world actually works. To put it bluntly, many of those who are alertable to the nonsensical environmental assumptions of economic theory are alerted by now, and major efforts to inform the remaining economists about the facts of life seem unlikely to be very cost-effective. Those who are unalertable will likely continue to consider externalities a minor problem, believe in perpetual motion machines, 100% recycling, and eternal growth, and otherwise act as if the laws of nature did not exist. They will continue to assume, as did the Brundtland report, that global economic activity can be safely multiplied five- to ten-fold (or even more), and to enhance the general reputation of their discipline as lacking predictive power. Paradigm shifts are rarely accepted by the middle-aged rank and file in any discipline, and new ideas normally take over only as older scholars retire.
Sadly, since a change in direction is required in the coming decades, there is not enough time to wait for the paradigm shift now under way within economics to be accepted by all, or even a majority -- especially since droves of young economists are still being trained under the old paradigm. The economic dimensions of the human predicament are much too important to be left to the old school, so ecological economists must take their results directly to policy makers and the general public -- groups that lack a narrow disciplary orientation. In the process, they can recruit the better minds among profesional economists, young and old.
[From Paul R. Ehrlich, Ecological economics and the carrying capacity of Earth, p. 41 in Jansson et al. 1994, _Investing in Natural Capital_, Island Press.]
The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a
likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.
- Nigel Calder, International Wildlife, June 1975
There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun
to change dramaticlly and that these changes may portrend a drastic
decline in food production - with serious political implications for
just about every nation on earth. The drop in food production could
begin quite soon... The evidence in support of these predictions has
now begun to accumalate so massively that meterologists are
hard-pressed to keep up with it.
- Newsweek, April 28, 1975
Certain signs, some of them visible to the layman as well as the
scientist, indicate that we have been watching an ice age approach for
some time without realizing what we are seeing... Scientists predict
that it will cause great snows which the world has not seen since the
last ice age thousands of years ago.
- Betty Friedan, "The coming Ice Age", Harper's Magazine, Sept, 1958
Thus the Laws of Thermodynamics tell us why we need a continual input
of energy to maintain ourselves, why we must eat much more than a
pound of food in order to gain a pound of weight, and why the total
weight of plants on the face of the Earth will always be much greater
than the weight of the plant-eaters, which will in turn always be much
greater than the weight of flesh-eaters.
- Ehrlich, Population, Resources and Environment, 2nd edition, p. 63.
It follows from this application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics
that in most biological systems the biomass (living weight) of
producers will be greater than that of primary consumers; the biomass
of primary consumers in turn will be greater than that of secondary
consumers; and so forth.
- Ehrlich, p. 103-104.
Ehrlich is mistaken in these two assertions. Because chickens grow much more rapidly than people, if we lived entirely on chicken, the biomass of chicken would be about half that of people. If we lived on chlorella, which can double their mass in a few hours, the biomass of chlorella could be one percent of that of people. This may be relevant to long space voyages.
If you ask me, it'd be a little short of disastrous for
us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy
because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking
for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won't
give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could
do mischief to the earth or to each other.
- Amory Lovins in The Mother Earth - Plowboy Interview, Nov/Dec 1977, p. 22
Giving society cheap, abundant energy ... would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun. - Paul Ehrlich, ``An Ecologist's Perspective on Nuclear Power'', May/June 1978 issue of Federation of American Scientists Public Issue Report
We can and should seize upon the energy crisis as a good excuse and
great opportunity for making some very fundamental changes that we
should be making anyhow for other reasons.
- Russell Train, Science 184 p. 1050, 7 June 1974. Train was EPA Administrator at the time, and soon thereafter became head of the World Wildlife Fund.
[In the 70s, there was a global cooling scare. It wasn't as intense as the current global warming scare. Some of the same people were involved in the cooling scare as are now involved in the warming scare. American journalists are not as gullible today as they were in the 70s. However, European journalists maybe even more gullible today than they were at that time. I don't claim that there is definitely no problem with warming, but once alarmism starts, it can develop a journalistic and political momentum independent of whatever scientific opinion may have started it.]
"The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord
with the increase in global air pollution
associated with industrialisation, mechanisation, urbanisation
and exploding population."
- Reid Bryson, "Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man", 1971
The rapid cooling of the earth since World War II is also in accord
with the increased air pollution associated with industrialization,
and an exploding population.
- Reid Bryson, "Environmental Roulette", 1971
An increase by only a factor of 4 in the global aerosol background
concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by
as much as 3.5 deg. K. If sustained over a period of several years,
such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be
sufficient to trigger an ice age.
- S.I Rasool and S.H. Schneider
Science, v173, p138, 9/7/1971.
"This [cooling] trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest
of the century"
- Peter Gwynne, Newsweek 1976
"This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.
If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world
famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about
before the year 2000."
- Lowell Ponte "The Cooling", 1976
Up to: Page on prophets.
Should the author of any of the above quotations wish to disavow or amend the opinion expressed, he is welcome; I'll put in an amendment. Isn't the web wonderful to allow me to make this offer.