"...For example, under the United States Constitution, effective population-control programs could be enacted under the clauses that empower Congress to appropriate funds to provide for the general welfare and to regulate commerce, or under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such laws constitutionally could be very broad. Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society. Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however...."You've probably never heard of my source for that, and I haven't been able to confirm that it's a quote from John Holdren's "Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions" (Paul R. Ehrlich; Anne H. Ehrlich; John P. Holdren. ISBN 0716705958 (1973)).1
The same source added:
"...To control population in America, Holdren further writes that he favors 'adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods.'..."Naturally, people defending America's dominant culture insist that Obama's advisor for Science and Technology couldn't possibly have written anything like that. It's sort of like eugenics: before people in Auschwitz and Dachau were found and rescued, saying that the unfit should be purged for the good of the race sounded pretty cool and sophisticated; after, not so much.
Naturally, there have been what is becoming the usual warning: criticism of the positions of President Obama's advisers is wrong. "Right-wing Attacks on Science Adviser Continue", Pratt, Andrew Plemmons, Science Progress (July 21, 2009) for example.
Back in the mid-seventies all right-thinking (left, actually) people on campus knew that if American imperialist aggression leading to a nuclear apocalypse didn't kill us, the population explosion would. Paul Ehrlich made quite a name for himself, saying that Earth couldn't possibly support all those people. (Emotion Trumping Reason...)
Finally 1980, 1985, and 1999 passed.
- The American life expectancy did not drop to 42
- Famine and disease didn't purge humanity down to a nice 1,500,000,000 or so
- The number of Americans stubbornly refused to get down to Ehrlich's 22,600,000 survivors
The point of that history lesson is that presidential adviser John Holdren was a lot younger in 1973 - and following the lead of what he'd probably been told were the best minds of the period. I wasn't surprised to see that Mr. Holdren's co-authored book was published in 1973. I was doing time in college then, and remember how 'obvious' the perils of overpopulation were supposed to be.
However, I've also noticed that Earth's population has passed 6,000,000,000 - with food production keeping up and then some. Yes, people are starving: but it's a matter of getting food to them, not being unable to produce enough. ("Darfur and the United Nations: Something's Happening," Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 11, 2008))
I'd be willing to dismiss both Holdren quotes, except that I was there, on a college campus, back in the mid-seventies: and recognize a set of ideas that were the norm for earnest depopulators.
What bothers me is the possibility that John Holdren, like many others, may not have been paying more attention to this culture's 'serious thinkers,' and less to what's actually been happening, for the last third of a century.
- "Global Warming, End Times - 'We're All Gonna Die' Over the Last 45 Years Or So"
(October 3, 2009)
- "Inconvenient Classes of Persons and Health Care"
(July 26, 2009)
- "Zambia: Corruption, Hospitals, and Bishops"
(July 22, 2009)
- "Pro-Life Americans Declared Terrorists: It Can't Happen Here?"
(July 6, 2009)
- "Pro-Life People - 'Domestic Terrorists and Violent Racketeers': Who Knew?"
(June 1, 2009)
- "DHS Report Identifying Veterans and Pro-Lifers as Potential Terrorists (Quietly) Withdrawn"
(May 14, 2009)
- "Fear of Right-Wing Extremism: Commie-Hunting in Reverse"
(April 19, 2009)
- "Pro-Life? You May be a Dangerous Domestic Terrorist! MIAC Says So"
(March 23, 2009)
- "Emotions, the Frontal Cortex, The War on Terror, Anarchists, and the Illuminati"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008)
- "Conservative? Liberal? Democrat? Republican? No, I'm Catholic"
(November 3, 2008)
Updated 6:12 p.m. Central (October 30, 2009)
I found a few typos, and a missing subheading, which have now been corrected.
1 I don't have a copy of the book on hand, don't have the budget to purchase one, and - given the 'publish now' pace of the blogosphere - don't have the weeks, or months, or year or so it could take to borrow a copy through a library system.