Guest essay by Dr. Tim Ball
Global Warming was just one issue The Club of Rome (TCOR) targeted in its campaign to reduce world population. In 1993 the Club’s co-founder, Alexander King with Bertrand Schneider wrote The First Global Revolution stating,
“The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”
They believe all these problems are created by humans but exacerbated by a growing population using technology. “Changed attitudes and behavior” basically means what it has meant from the time Thomas Malthus raised the idea the world was overpopulated. He believed charity and laws to help the poor were a major cause of the problem and it was necessary to reduce population through rules and regulations. TCOR ideas all ended up in the political activities of the Rio 1992 conference organized by Maurice Strong (a TCOR member) under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The assumptions and objectives became the main structure of Agenda 21, the master plan for the 21st Century. The global warming threat was confronted at Rio through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was structured to predetermine scientific proof that human CO2 was one contribution of the “common enemy”.
The IPCC was very successful. Despite all the revelations about corrupted science and their failed predictions (projections) CO2 remains central to global attention about energy and environment. For example, several websites, many provided by government, list CO2 output levels for new and used cars. Automobile companies work to build cars with lower CO2 output and, if for no other reason than to appear green, use it in advertising. The automotive industry, which has the scientists to know better, collectively surrenders to eco-bullying about CO2. They are not alone. They get away with it because they pass on the unnecessary costs to a befuddled “trying to do the right thing” population.
TCOR applied Thomas Malthus’s claim of a race to exhaustion of food to all resources. Both Malthus and COR believe limiting population was mandatory. Darwin took a copy of Malthus’s Essay on Population with him and remarked on its influence on his evolutionary theory in his Beagle journal in September 1838. The seeds of distortion about overpopulation were sown in Darwin’s acceptance of Malthus’s claims.
Paul Johnson’s biography of Charles Darwin comments on the contradiction between Darwin’s scientific methods and his acceptance of their omission in Malthus.
Malthus’s aim was to discourage charity and reform the existing poor laws, which, he argued, encourage the destitute to breed and so aggravated the problem. That was not Darwin’s concern. What struck him was the contrast between geometrical progression (breeding) and arithmetical progression (food supplies). Not being a mathematician he did not check the reasoning and accuracy behind Malthus’s law… in fact, Malthus’s law was nonsense. He did not prove it. He stated it. What strikes one reading Malthus is the lack of hard evidence throughout. Why did this not strike Darwin? A mystery. Malthus’s only “proof” was the population expansion of the United States.
There was no point at which Malthus’s geometrical/arithmetical rule could be made to square with the known facts. And he had no reason whatsoever to extrapolate from the high American rates to give a doubling effect every 25 years everywhere and in perpetuity.
He swallowed Malthusianism because it fitted his emotional need, he did not apply the tests and deploy the skepticism that a scientist should. It was a rare lapse from the discipline of his profession. But it was an important one.
Darwin’s promotion of Malthus undoubtedly gave the ideas credibility they didn’t deserve. Since then the Malthusian claim has dominated science, social science and latterly environmentalism. Even now many who accept the falsity of global warming due to humans continue to believe overpopulation is a real problem.
Overpopulation was central in all TCOR’s activities. Three books were important to their message, Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb (1968) and Ecoscience: Population, Resources and Environment (1977) co-authored with John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar, and Meadows et al., Limits to Growth, published in 1972 that anticipated the IPCC approach of computer model predictions (projections). The latter wrote
If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years.
Here is what the TCOR web site says about the book.
They created a computing model which took into account the relations between various global developments and produced computer simulations for alternative scenarios. Part of the modelling were different amounts of possibly available resources, different levels of agricultural productivity, birth control or environmental protection.
They estimated the current amount of a resource, determined the rate of consumption, and added an expanding demand because of increasing industrialization and population growth to determine, with simple linear trend analysis, that the world was doomed.
Economist Julian Simon challenged TCOR and Ehrlich’s assumptions.
In response to Ehrlich’s published claim that “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000” – a proposition Simon regarded as too silly to bother with – Simon countered with “a public offer to stake US$10,000 … on my belief that the cost of non-government-controlled raw materials (including grain and oil) will not rise in the long run.”
You could name your own terms: select any raw material you wanted – copper, tin, whatever – and select any date in the future, “any date more than a year away,” and Simon would bet that the commodity’s price on that date would be lower than what it was at the time of the wager.
John Holdren selected the materials and the time. Simon won the bet.
Global warming used the idea that CO2 would increase to harmful levels because of increasing industrialization and expanding populations. The political manipulation of climate science was linked to development and population control in various ways. Here are comments from a PBS interview with Senator Tim Wirth in response to the question, “What was it in the late 80s, do you think, that made the issue [of global warming] take off?” He replied,
I think a number of things happened in the late 1980s. First of all, there were the [NASA scientist Jim] Hansen hearings [in 1988]. … We had introduced a major piece of legislation. Amazingly enough, it was an 18-part climate change bill; it had population in it, conservation, and it had nuclear in it. It had everything that we could think of that was related to climate change. … And so we had this set of hearings, and Jim Hansen was the star witness.
Wikipedia says about Wirth,
In the State Department, he worked with Vice President Al Gore on global environmental and population issues, supporting the administration’s views on global warming. A supporter of the proposed Kyoto Protocol Wirth announced the U.S.’s commitment to legally binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
Gore chaired the 1988 “Hansen” Senate Hearing and was central to the promotion of population as basic to all other problems. He led the US delegation to the September 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo Egypt.
That conference emerged from Rio 1992 where they linked population to all other supposed problems.
Explicitly integrating population into economic and development strategies will both speed up the pace of sustainable development and poverty alleviation and contribute to the achievement of population objectives and an improved quality of life of the population.
This theme was central to Rio+20 held in June 2012 and designed to re-emphasize Rio 1992.
The world is not overpopulated. That fallacy is perpetuated in all environmental research, policy and planning including global warming and latterly climate change. So what are the facts about world population?
The US Census Bureau provides a running estimate of world population. It was 6,994,551,619 on February 15, 2012. On October 30, 2011 the UN claimed it passed 7 billion; the difference is 5,448,381. This is more than the population of 129 countries of the 242 listed by Wikipedia. It confirms most statistics are crude estimates, especially those of the UN who rely on individual member countries, yet no accurate census exists for any of them
Population density is a more meaningful measure. Most people are concentrated in coastal flood plains and deltas, which are about 5 percent of the land. Compare Canada, the second largest country in the world with approximately 35.3 million residents estimated in 2013 with California where an estimated 37.3 million people lived in 2010. Some illustrate the insignificance of the density issue by putting everyone in a known region. For example, Texas at 7,438,152,268,800 square feet divided by the 2012 world population 6,994,551,619 yields 1063.4 square feet per person. Fitting all the people in an area is different from them being able to live there. Most of the world is unoccupied by humans.
Population geographers separate ecumene, the inhabited area, from non-ecumene the uninhabited areas. The distribution of each changes over time because of technology, communications and food production capacity. Many of these changes deal with climate controls. Use of fire and clothing allowed survival in colder regions, while irrigation offset droughts and allowed settlement in arid regions. Modern environmentalists would likely oppose all of these touted evolutionary advances.
Ironically The Fallacious Problem is The Solution
It all sounds too familiar in the exploitation of science for a political and personal agenda. But there is an even bigger tragedy because the development the TCOR and IPCC condemn is actually the solution.
All of the population predictions Ehrlich and others made were wrong, but more important and damning was they ignored another pattern that was identified in 1929 and developed over the same period as the Mathusian claims. It is known as the Demographic Transition.
It shows and statistics confirm, population declines as nations industrialize and the economy grows. It is so dramatic in developed countries that the population pyramid results in insufficient young people to support the massively expensive social programs for the elderly. Some countries offset this with migration, but they are simply creating other problems. Countries that don’t allow or severely limit migration such as Japan face completely different problems. Some countries offer incentives for having more than two children, such as the announcement by Vladimir Putin in Russia. China took draconian, inhuman, steps by limiting families to one child. The irony, although there is nothing funny about it, is they are now the largest producer of CO2 and their economy booms. If they had simply studied the demographic transition and let things take a normal course the tragedies already incurred and yet to unfold could have been avoided.
The world is not overpopulated. Malthus began the idea suggesting the population would outgrow the food supply. Currently food production is believed sufficient to feed 25 billion people and growing. The issue is that in the developing world some 60 percent of production never makes it to the table. Developed nations cut this figure to 30 percent primarily through refrigeration. In their blind zeal those who brought you the IPCC fiasco cut their teeth on the technological solution to this problem – better and cheaper refrigeration. The CFC/ ozone issue was artificially created to ban CFCs and introduce global control through the Montreal Protocol. It, like the Kyoto Protocol was a massive, expensive, unnecessary solution to a non-existent problem.
TCOR and later UNEP’s Agenda 21 adopted and expanded the Malthusian idea of overpopulation to all resources making it the central tenet of all their politics and policies. The IPCC was set up to assign the blame of global warming and latterly climate change on human produced CO2 from an industrialized expanding population. They both developed from false assumptions, used manipulated data and science, which they combined into computer models whose projections were, not surprisingly, wrong. The result is the fallacy of global warming due to human CO2 is a subset built on the fallacy of overpopulation.