Proving once again that foolish ideas don't die or fade away -- they walk the earth eternally, preying on the brains of the living -- scientists at a UK think tank have determined that the greatest threat to the planet is more human beings. "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights," explains Professor John Guillebaud, co-chairman of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). "The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child."
The OPT is hardly the first to jump on the Malthusian bandwagon. The environmental left is in a constant state of apoplexy about the environmental cost of human existence. Back in 1968, Professor Paul Ehrlich published his famous -- and entirely erroneous -- anti-reproduction manifesto, "The Population Bomb." "The battle to feed all of humanity is over," Ehrlich claimed. "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." His solution: "The birth rate must be brought into balance with the death rate. We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth; the cancer itself must be cut out."
Naturally, no such disaster occurred. Nonetheless, "Children Are Global Cancer" Ehrlich remains a highly respected figure for the global left. In 1990, Al Gore trumpeted the sequel to "The Population Bomb," writing a glowing blurb for its dust jacket: "The time for action is due, and past due. The Ehrlichs have written the prescription." Gore neglected to mention that Ehrlich's prescription is mass distribution of RU-486.
The radical left embraces Ehrlich and OPT because it fundamentally believes in an atheistic version of original sin: We are all endowed with the evil capacity to consume. For the radical left, the planet is not a bountiful source to be protected and used for human happiness -- it is a Higher Power to be protected from humanity's rapaciousness. The planet should not be protected for future generations, they say -- it should be protected for its own sake.
This concept of Mother Earth as feckless deity and Man as apocalyptic destroyer is deeply perverse. Nonetheless, the Democratic Party has been infused with this planet-as-deity cultish fanaticism. The major item of faith for Democratic devotees is religious belief in manmade global warming, which every major Democratic politician has termed the most dramatic threat facing America.
The Party has its own religious figures. There's Gore, whom the Democrats have labeled a "prophet." There's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who religiously dismisses all evidence that global warming is not manmade: "The science of global warming and its impact is overwhelming and unequivocal." There's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has seen the light: "Today, the world's best and brightest scientists made clear that the debate on global warming is over. The world has moved beyond doubt, and now all that remains is to work urgently toward solutions." There's Barack Obama, who, during the recent Democratic presidential debate, mentioned only one lesson he's trying to teach his daughters: "working to install light bulbs that last longer and save energy."
Democrats have not yet openly embraced OPT's Heaven's Gate strategy, though many of them buy into the idea of "stabilizing population growth." For now, the Democrats will settle for crippling American standards of living in the name of a phantom threat. But it will not be long before Democrats -- like their more radical allies in Europe -- demand more in the name of protecting Gaia.