12 May, 2010 — Climate and Capitalism
Mother Jones magazine opens a discussion of the population problem. Sort of.
Mother Jones is a once-radical now-liberal magazine that promises ‘smart fearless journalism.’ An example of what that means is the main headline on the cover of the current issue: ‘Who’s to Blame for the Population Crisis?’
That’s the lead-in to ‘The Last Taboo’, by Julia Whitty, the magazine’s environmental editor.
Sadly, there’s not much new here … the usual retailing of scary statistics, with a particular focus on the threat posed by those unreasonably fertile women in India and other Third World countries. A prominently displayed pull-quote alerts us:
‘Every minute … 157 new people join the world’s population. 4 are in developed countries (27 babies born, 23 people dying). 153 are in developing countries (237 babies born, 83 people dying.)’ (emphasis in original)
Witty calls overpopulation the ‘last taboo’ because, she says, no one wants to talk about it.
‘What unites the Vatican, lefties, conservatives, environmentalists, and scientists in a conspiracy of silence? Population.’
Populationists regularly make this claim, apparently blind to the irony of using op-ed pages, major magazines, TV editorials and the like to complain that they are being silenced.
Today Mother Jones opened an online discussion forum on the topic. But the topic is not whether population growth is actually a crisis, but ‘Why Is Population Control Such a Radioactive Topic?’
They assume that there is a population crisis — the issue to be discussed is why it isn’t discussed.
The participants include Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb and The Population Explosion and other books. Again with a total lack of irony, this writer of multiple bestselling books that advocated compulsory birth control says:
‘We don’t talk about overpopulation because of real fears from the past—of racism, eugenics, colonialism, forced sterilization, forced family planning, plus the fears from some of contraception, abortion, and sex.’
The online forum will be open through Friday May 14. It’s not surprising, given Mother Jones‘ editorial slant, that so far most of the commenters think that the world’s problems are caused by poor women having too many babies.
The word capitalism has only appeared once, and socialism not at all.
Now that is the last taboo.
PS: Michael Swan reviews Whitty’s ‘misinformed nonfiction’ in the current issue of Swans Commentary.
‘She systematically fails to grasp the historical dimensions of the population issue. In lieu of a viable argument she simply repackages imperial myths with a ‘new’ sustainable façade, facilitating the neoliberal onslaught on the majority of the world’s humans.’