Paul  Kengor

Every April 22 is Earth Day. As one who studies Soviet Russia, I can’t help but notice that the day coincides with the birthday of Vladimir Lenin. The inaugural Earth Day occurred April 22, 1970, no less than Lenin’s birth centennial.

This is most ironic. Lenin is a decaying symbol of central planning, which, regrettably, is the ideological preference of many of those filling the streets on Earth Day. Although Lenin was a collectivist, not an environmentalist, he is frequently recycled, as mortuary specialists from Russia’s health ministry regularly re-embalm him in his tomb.

Lenin had no respect for life. He declared certain people “harmful insects.” In Lenin’s deadly worldview, pesky humans were not precious, special, unrepeatable; they were disposable.

That brings me to a living symbol of Earth Day: Paul Ehrlich. Dr. Ehrlich’s explosive bestseller, The Population Bomb, inspired the freshman class that first Earth Day, embodying the wildest fears of apocalypse mongers. The great Johnny Carson was, sadly, one of Ehrlich’s dupes, giving him a platform on “The Tonight Show” dozens of times.

Much has been said about Ehrlich’s book. But as author John Berlau reports, one item has been conveniently sunk into a land-fill. “He [Ehrlich] flirted with a proposal to require adding contraceptive material to all food items in the United States,” writes Berlau in Eco-Freaks. “But Ehrlich’s most drastic—and contemptuous—measures were reserved for the third world. Ehrlich advocated that all men in India who had three or more children be forcibly sterilized.”

Really? That was something I needed to see for myself, certainly never learning this in my public education. So, I tracked down a September 1971 edition of The Population Bomb.

What Ehrlich wrote is jaw-dropping. Dealing first with pesky Americans, he wrote (pages 130-31):