Mr. Crankypants takes on Al Gore

Mr. Crankypants is so pleased that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize. What self-respecting liberal isn’t? All the conservative pundits are foaming at the mouth, rabidly furious at the thought that some crazy Swedes (who are probably Commies anyway) dared to give any kind of public recognition to Evil Al, the Climate Change Kid. Mr. Crankypants just loves the thought of conservative pundits foaming rabidly at the mouth.

However. While Mr. Crankypants is amused at his effect on conservative pundits, Mr. C. thinks Al Gore has missed a key point. The world doesn’t really need carbon offsets. The world doesn’t really need that Kyoto treaty they all talk about. The world doesn’t even really need hybrid automobiles. What the world really needs is about five and a half billion fewer human beings.

Stanley Schmidt makes this point in the November, 2007, issue of the magazine Analog: Science Fiction and Fact: “If population continues to increase, it will overwhelm any per capita decrease we make in any of the problematic variables associated with it, like resource use, increase in greenhouse gases, and other forms of pollution.” Elementary arithmetic will show you that this is a true statement. Schmidt goes on to make this statement: “All places will need to think about controlling population growth. It will be controlled, sooner or later, whether because of voluntary restraint, government-imposed limits, or catastrophic collapse because a stability limit has been passed.”

Three options: (a) voluntary restraint, (b) government-imposed limits, or (c) catastrophic collapse. Which one of these do you think is the most politically palatable option? Which option do you think Al Gore would choose? Remember that Al Gore has not publicly advocated for either voluntary population restraint, or for government controls on population growth. Therefore, if you chose (c), catastrophic collapse, as the preferred political option for controlling population growth, you are correct! Your prize will be ocean-front property in the state of Arkansas.

And which of those three options do you think is the most religiously palatable option for most of the world? A few religious liberals would vote for option (a), voluntary restraint of population growth — indeed, some religious liberals deliberately limit their offspring to one, or adopt children rather than procreate themselves, or have no children at all, as a matter of religious principle. But most of the world’s religions seem to prefer option (c), catastrophic collapse — presumably under the untested theory that their deity/deities, or other supernatural power, will come to rescue them.

Mr. Crankypants doesn’t want this to be completely depressing. So he will point out some more good news — after the sea level rises, Arizona might just have oceanfront property as well!

6 thoughts on “Mr. Crankypants takes on Al Gore

  1. M.M.M.

    Cher M. Crankypants –

    Ah, les miserables. C’est vous, les Americains.

    I will speak English for you. Should you, my cher M. Crankypants, wish to gain the attention (pronounce correctly, si vous plait) of the masses, I do very much advise you do not begin le argument with the pronouncement that what the “world really needs is about five and a half billion fewer human beings.” Mais non. What do you propose, M. Cranky? A very bad virus? Big Bombs? Le plague? It is the impossible argument to convince the people who do not wish to be convinced. They see le big number and shrug the shoulders and say, feh! Too late! Population control? Conservation? Mais non! Let us party in the big cars while zee sun shines.

    Begin again, M. Crankypants.

    Votre ami,
    M. Merde-Merde

  2. Mr. Crankypants

    Well, to be honest, M. Merde-Merde, Mr. Crankypants has no intention of convincing anyone — because Mr. C. has made a big investment in real estate along the Ouachita River (elevation a mere 60 feet above sea level) in Arkansas. Mr. C. wants people to shrug their shoulders and say Pfeh! (in America, we say “Pfeh,” not your snooty French “feh”). The more kids people have, the faster global warming will happen, the faster sea levels will rise, and the sooner that land along the Ouachita River will be oceanfront property and be worth big bucks to Mr. C. So everybody go out tonight and procreate!

  3. Matthew Martin

    When people are rich their population growth falls to close to the replacement rate (e.g. the US) or below it (e.g. west Europe). Your audience is all computer users, mostly from wealthy countries, unless they are using a $100 laptop :-) I fail to see how extinctionism (or ZPG policies) in developed countries will impact reproductive decision making in the rest of the world (the other 5.5 billion), many who may have six kids, but don’t so much as own a motorcycle let alone an SUV. Alternative policies such as taxing/putting quotas on carbon will have an impact today, while non-catastrophic population decline could take a century. Total population isn’t irrelevant to global warming, it just doesn’t look like the choice variable that would lead to a solution, imho.

  4. Dan

    Hi, Matthew Martin — Not sure how Mr. Crankypants would respond to this, but I note with interest that population growth rates are falling around the world right now. Can’t come up with citations for this (sorry), but I’ve been reading newspaper articles that even after being adjusted for things like the AIDS crisis, etc., population growth rates are falling faster than they should be in the “developing” world — suggesting to some scholars that many people are voluntarily limiting their reproduction rates. Who knows, maybe at some level we all know that there are too many people in the world.

    As far as limiting population growth rates in the “developed” world, a common argument amongst certain activists is that since we “First Worlders” produce the vast majority of greenhouse gases & pollution, we can have a huge effect by purposefully limiting population growth in the “First World.” For a while, the Sierra Club even had a zero population growth interest group which advocated tightening immigration — based in part on the idea that when immigrants come to the U.S., they increase consumption (and pollution) drastically — needless to say, this was not a popular stance within the larger Sierra Club. But the math still works out — if you have fewer First Worlders, you are going to drastically reduce petroleum consumption worldwide.

  5. DadH

    Dear Mr Crankypants,
    As usual, your comments are right on target.
    I suppose we can expect that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will eventually solve the problem.

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