Saturday, October 01, 2005

Between 150 and 500 People

The cultural chaos of the late 1960s and 1970s produced many strange trends, which I couldn't understand at the time. But the fruit of these trends is becoming apparent, and I can't help but ask if these results were planned. One strange trend, that of adopted children seeking their birth parents, has borne ugly fruit: parents facing unwanted pregnancies will often reject adoption, fearing scandal in the future, and instead are choosing abortion. In the United Kingdom, which unsealed all confidential adoption records, the adoption rate plummeted and the abortion rate soared. Another strange trend was that of patients demanding the right of more control of their health care.

The folks who were seeking their birth parents and those who demanded more control in their health-care decisions were the typical Marxist-style activists that were common in that era. Even as a kid, the style of these activists was easy to spot: angry demonstrators, Feminists wearing T-shirts with leftist slogans and other counterculture clothing, yelling shrill accusations, making harsh demands, being very unpleasant with their opponents, with no spirit whatsoever of compromise. And they took their cases to court, and many eventually won. The adoptees seeking their birth parents appealed to society's liberality, and stated that they needed to know what type of genetic diseases their parents may have. Also, they appealed to feelings, saying that they needed to bond with the women who gave them birth. The first argument has much merit, while the second has less, but it still has great emotional appeal. But it seems apparent that the real motivation for this was to eliminate adoption and instead promote abortion. Few on the left seem to have any interest at all in adoption, as far as I can tell. Adoptive parents in the U.S. are typically Christian and traditional. But why abortion? Clearly, the argument for abortion, that it would eliminate poverty, was swallowed whole by society, but poverty is greater now than 35 years ago. I suspect that the actual desire for abortion is to reduce population. This is consistent with much of the Environmentalist rhetoric that started during that era.

See this article by Catherine Seipp: Dangerous Witchdoctoring, describing a health-care activist mother who has HIV, breastfeeds her children, and had a daughter who died of an AIDS-related disease. This woman is associated with "Medical Justice" activists who oppose vaccination and deny the link between HIV and AIDS.

When the left-activist health care movement started, they originally said that patients need to take more control of their own health care, and not just rely on physicians' judgment. This seemed reasonable: Sometime during the 20th century the Hippocratic Oath was changed from "doing what was good for the patient" to "doing what was good for society", and we ended up with horrible medical experiments, in the name of society, causing great suffering to patients. The German concentration camp and Tuskeegee experiments were the most notorious examples of this new type of medicine "for the good of society". The activists also wanted access to alternative medicine, such as herbal remedies and acupuncture; this was less reasonable, but tolerable; aspirin, after all, was developed from the ancient willow-bark herbal cure. But this health-activist movement seems mainly unassociated with the traditional labor-union desire for universal state-sponsored health care, and instead seems to be linked to Environmentalism.

Our most progressive state, California, has lax vaccination laws due to these activists. Clearly, vaccination has some ethical problems: for example, do you use a vaccine that will directly and certainly kill a number of patients, if it will protect many others from death due to disease? And some vaccines may have long-term serious side-effects. But certainly, many horrible diseases have been eliminated or greatly reduced due to mandatory vaccination, and development has make vaccines that are safe. Older people who remember the horrors of polio and other childhood diseases are strongly pro-vaccine, while many youths think that these diseases are permanently in the past.

But why would environmentalist activists want to limit vaccination, or deny the link between HIV and AIDS? Ultimately, they warn that our planet has too many people, and that we could destroy life on Earth if we do not sharply reduce our population. Global population is about 6 billion, and some propose that we need to reduce that number to somewhere between 500 million and 2 billion, and that this population reduction needs to take place sometime between a pessimistic 35 years or an optimistic 200 years. These numbers are generated by computer models, the most famous of which was the 1972 Club of Rome report "Limits to Growth" But what are their proposals for limiting population?

Actually, they are telling us how they plan to do it. More abortions, universal birth control, no vaccines, useless medicines, and no treatment for HIV. That is a definite, if coldly rational, way of causing huge numbers of deaths in the near future. HIV is still on the upswing, and sexual libertinism will increase it greatly; while legal abortion has already killed off a third of the current generation. Birth control is limiting the population of the industrial world. Diseases like cancer will be treated with worthless cures. And another influenza pandemic like that in 1918, untreated, will wipe out hundreds of millions or more.

The same people who generate the computer models guessing the maximum desirable population of the planet also say that the minimum number of humans to ensure survival is somewhere between 150 and 500 people, a number large enough for survival yet small enough to prevent environmental damage for millennia to come. Some take this proposal seriously.

Will excess population cause environmental collapse? Certainly, although the population limit is probably quite large. Are we approaching global environmental collapse? Probably not, but we ought to be careful. Do the ends justify the means? Never.

I dislike the dishonesty of many activists on the left, pushing agendas while keeping motives hidden. Obviously, the same goes for many on the political right also: you may recall proposals for "population wars" in the third world. Obviously, if these folks just came out and said that they want to kill off as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time—using only natural means, of course—then they wouldn't get much of a hearing.

Traditional Christian thinking emphasizes chastity for all, celibacy for some, the spirit of poverty with universal charity, and a respect for nature as a part of Creation. It is the Way, and says yes to life.


  1. I don't understand what your getting at. Surely the 'good of society' is in the best interest of the patient.
    A cleaner enviroment and a more healthier society will ultimately lead to a better way of life for all?
    I do agree though that abortion is out of control and the idea of lowering the population would in some way make for a better world to live in, is a ridiculas argument.
    I don't believe that population control is the answer but a better understanding between nations as to the needs of each community is what is lacking.
    Although many actavist in the 50s and 60s were protesting for a loosening of social binds I still believe that a lot more good came out of those protest than bad

  2. Jed,

    "For the good of society" was abused in several ways. Doctors used prisoners for medical experiments: shooting them to study gunshot wounds, putting them in water until they died to investigate hypothermia and so forth. This may have saved more people than were killed, but this is gravely immoral. Also, a group of patients with syphilis were left untreated so as to investigate how the disease progresed, even after a cure for syphilis was available. Populations of towns were exposed to radioactive dust released from aircraft to see potential health effects. These experiments were not for the good of the patient, but "for the good of society". These problems occur when humans are not given objective individual value.