David Thompson
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May 19, 2010

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Anna

You're back. Yay!

"Mr Dammann described voluntary human extinction as “in many ways laudable,”"

He should set a good example then. I've got a bridge and some rope.

mlrosty

"So it makes sense to say that if the world has to change, reproduction has to go."

That's got to be the best ever use of "so it makes sense to say..."

Joe Hooker

Jeez, when you're dealing with the left it always seems to come down to mass murder, no matter if it's nazis, commies, or greens.

Franklin

You have to wonder about people whose ideas about humanity dovetail with those of Agent Smith from the Matrix.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Na9-jV_OJI

JuliaM

"One sharper than average reader spots a potential problem with ostentatious childlessness.

I don’t think not having children is the best option, the reason being that if people with green beliefs are no longer having children there won’t be a next generation to carry the green baton as it were. The only people still having children will be those without environmental awareness."

Damn! They're learning! I didn't think they could DO that... ;)

mikey

Well, if reproduction 'goes', it would indeed be the end of 'gender and sexual oppression'. There's a joke in here somewhere about throwing out the baby with the bath water...

David

Franklin,

“You have to wonder about people whose ideas about humanity dovetail with those of Agent Smith from the Matrix.”

Yes, it’s funny how quickly “saving the world” can turn into “kill them, kill them all!” You might almost wonder if one is a pretext for the other.

sk60

"Have your house size adjust your necessities."

I'm confused. Does it mean you shouldn't buy more stuff than you can fit in your house? Do many people do that?

Jason Bontrager

David, via H.L. Menken: "The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it."

I guess that should be amended to "The urge to save the environment is almost always a false-face for the urge to exterminate mankind".

Hmmm, "exterminate"...do environmentalists use lots of prostheses?

Anna

"Does it mean you shouldn't buy more stuff than you can fit in your house? Do many people do that?"

My car doesn't fit in my house. Am I a bad person?

sk60

Yes. ;)

David

We established that some time ago. With actual science.

jones

Whats REALLY meant is that the unwashed should consume less so their superiors can still buy imported mange tout from Nicaragua......

Or am I being cynical?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Lwlx3GnLGs

jones

Or is it the lizards?

Bob Smith

If the goal of involuntary sterilization is to reduce the human population, why would you first target it at affluent populations, who have the fewest children? You should target it at Muslim countries, who have the highest birth rates.

WTP

Why do these people always stop short of the one solution over which they have complete control? Used to see it on a bumper sticker on my way to work most mornings...Save the planet, kill yourself.

Jonathan

Well, fewer whiny left wingers certainly gets my vote! This could be the start of a great campaign:
" Are you a caring, concerned person whose politics are left of centre? Do you care about the planet? Then don't reproduce. It's the Green way forward! Also, have you considered reducing you own lifespan?"
Just a thought.

Jim S.

Reminds me of the alleged philosophical book "Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence" by David Benetar. http://www.amazon.com/Better-Never-Have-Been-Existence/dp/0199296421

Mr Eugenides

To be fair, a mass cull of Australians would not be entirely morally indefensible.

phantom menace

"Others sympathetic to such notions include the “biocentric” conservationist Paul Watson, who regards humanity as a “cancer” and tells us that, “curing the biosphere of the human virus will require a radical and invasive approach.”"

Why does ecomentalism attract so many creepy screwed-up people?

David

“Why does ecomentalism attract so many creepy screwed-up people?”

I could only guess at the motives in any given instance, though there is a remarkable overlap with authoritarian urges. Maybe people with urges of that kind find environmental alarmism an ideal pretext to indulge themselves.

I’m reminded of Leo Hickman’s recent interview with James Lovelock, in which Lovelock admitted: “The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is... It’s almost naive, scientifically speaking, to think we can give relatively accurate predictions for future climate. There are so many unknowns that it’s wrong to do it.”

Yet in the same interview Lovelock still went on to say this: “We need a more authoritative world. We’ve become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say... You’ve got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it... It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/mar/29/james-lovelock

And this being the Guardian, the tension between the first statement and the second passed entirely unremarked.

Anna

"though there is a remarkable overlap with authoritarian urges."

Don't forget the Beeb's Andrew Marr.

"..the final answer, frankly, is the vigorous use of state power to coerce and repress. It may be my Presbyterian background, but I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good. Stamp hard on certain 'natural' beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/feb/28/lawrence.ukcrime4

He's talking about racism but he sounds a bit *too* keen.

And the Beeb's Matt Frei in September last year...

"Sometimes you look at countries like China and you think, 'Wouldn't it be nice to be an autocracy in times like these?'"

http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2009/09/chinese-stir-frei.html

And check out the Thomas Friedman quote in the same link.

Liberal fascism anyone?

Patita_fea

I am intensely creeped out by this persistent collectivist idea that human beings are THINGS. Like, perhaps, hunks of Play-Doh. Mold us, pose us, build aesthetically pleasing little sculptures out of us. And apparently, issue a general recall when it's determined that Play-Doh harms the environment and disrupts the Circle of Life.

There are worse crimes than treating people as things, said one of Terry Pratchett's characters.

"But they starts," another one answered tartly, "with thinking about people as things..."

David

Patita_fea,

“I am intensely creeped out by this persistent collectivist idea that human beings are THINGS.”

And, explicitly or implicitly, it is a recurring theme. The Feministing link is peppered with collectivist lunacy. There’s the claim that parenting is “selfish” and should no longer be “a private endeavour,” and that nuclear families (along with reproduction) “have got to go.” Another contributor shares this little gem: “I think most people would agree that it is wrong to intentionally cause suffering and death to others just because you feel like it, yet they have no problem with intentionally reproducing, which is exactly the same thing.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/01/the-just-me-generation.html

A less lurid example – but scarcely less objectionable – can be found here:

“I met with the Vice President for Student Affairs and I asked about a transfer from Multicultural Affairs to another department, almost any other department so long as my every duty and every interaction with students didn’t have to be centred on race... Very casually, the vice president said that a transfer would be difficult because my departure would leave two same gendered people of the same race in that office, and there would be some difficulty ‘finding another black woman to replace you.’”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/04/not-a-person-but-a-group.html

Patita_fea

Ah, yes, of course. "Making new people" = "killing people."

You have to wonder what color the sky is in their world.

TimT

"What if we say no to reproduction? Reproduction is the basis of the institutions of marriage and family, and those two provide the moorings to the structure of gender and sexual oppression... So it makes sense to say that if the world has to change, reproduction has to go. Of course there is an ecological responsibility to reduce the human population, or even end it."
.
It's true you know. The oppression of women won't work if there aren't any women around to oppress, or men to do the oppressing. Can't fault that logic.

Baz

David, Have you seen this gem?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/20/fashion-colour-nude-racist

Apparently "nude" is racist, since it excludes black or Asian skin tones. It's getting harder to tell the Graun from the Onion every day.

David

Baz,

Thanks for that. I was tickled by how the photos used as (presumably) damning examples don’t actually feature colours even close to human skin, Caucasian or otherwise. I’m struggling to take seriously someone who finds political umbrage in the colour of a strapless gown. And who then says, apparently in all seriousness, “Will ‘nude’ one day strike us as equally horrifying [as ‘nigger’]?”

Anna

"But it isn't just the description of a colour that is potentially offensive here, it's also the way the look is styled, the conception of the entire trend. On the cover of May's InStyle, actor Gemma Arterton appears in a frock so close to her skin tone that it seems to seep into her chest and shoulders, the two adjacent pallors of flesh and dress somehow bleaching each other out, lightening further the overall look."

Wow. The Grauniad attracts idiots like a honey pot.

Uncle Deetou

The self hatred really is quite disturbing... I cannot understand how reasonably intelligent people come up with such ideas.... 'a cull of Australians or Americans.' Guilt? Anyway what a lovely blog you have here... excellent stuff.

Spiny Norman

Mr Renton’s ecological wisdom includes such nuggets as, “fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet” and “a cull of Australians or Americans would be at least 60 times as productive as one of Bangladeshis.”

Filthy and disease-ridden, living in abject poverty and despair, THAT is how the human race is meant to live? Does Renton really believe this?

Is misanthropy a prerequisite for "environmental activism", or does it develop later?

Ted S., Catskills, NY

In most countries, the biggest consumer is the government. So if you want to have an environmental impact, you'd campaign to have Big Government consume less.

Start by shutting down all the quangos, and stop having Big Government advertise for jobs in the Guardian.

mikke

Normally I find this blog an oasis in a sea of dumb. But this topic was a bit of a speed bump, if by "speed bump" we mean "sixteen-storey-deep chasm with piranhas at the bottom."

One of the convenient things about categorical thinking is that it absolves everyone in the kerfuffle from having to engage in more complex reasoning. So on the one hand, the answer to humans' troubling ecological rapacity is "everybody die" (last I checked, we do, and it hasn't helped) and on the other it's "breed breed breed, because obviously no one will agree with your ideas unless they spring from your loins."

Yikes!

David, you normally bring a much more piquant and patient attention to complex topics. But here I ask you to consider elevating the discussion rather than encouraging rhetorical repetition compulsions.

Unless of course you would advocate simply ignoring all ecological science and thinking. Which I would call a huge mistake, given your record of trying to think with complexity and restraint about complex issues.

Ecology is one of the great legacies of the Enlightenment--its natural history and its focus on human freedom and responsibility--with roots in even older elevated notions of Western civilization (for example, the /oikos/). To see it all thrown out the window to frame yet another snark at postmodernists and Guardian writers is dismaying.

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