No, AOC, Humans Are Not Killing the Earth
By 2050, there will be nearly ten billion human beings on the planet.
According to AOC, those nearly 10 billion humans will place a major burden on the Earth. With what they need to live a comfortable existence — the house, car, utilities, food, travel, and other services, each with its own carbon footprint — those ten billion will increase carbon emissions by at least 43%. Just the livestock that human beings raise emit 37% of non-natural methane emissions, 23 times more damaging than all the CO2 from cars. From an environmental perspective, 10 billion humans seems an unacceptable number.
For radicals like AOC, here are two solutions. One is to drastically reduce the carbon footprint of every human being on the planet. This could be accomplished by mandating electric vehicles or no car at all, and by using taxation and zoning to force humans into smaller, more efficient apartments.
But housing and transportation would not be enough. It would be necessary to slash electricity and other utility usages, since power plants are the largest source of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and to outlaw animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy. It would also be necessary to limit travel and restrict land use so as to return land to its state of nature.
All of these "solutions" have been proposed, and in some places implemented, but alone, they will not reduce carbon emissions to any perceptible extent, since humans will go on requiring food, shelter, heat, electricity, and other services that produce emissions. If you believe that carbon poses an existential threat to life on Earth, you must consider option #2.
That option is to reduce the number of human beings on Earth, be it by forced sterilization, birth control, abortion, or voluntary or mandatory euthanasia. While they do not always admit it, radicals like AOC have been pushing this option for decades. They envision a planet happily free of human industry and development — a lot like the primitive communal settlement depicted at the end of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Or a planet free of humans entirely.
State-mandated sterilization, birth control, and abortion have already been implemented in many countries, notably in Communist China and India, but also de facto in the U.S., where federally funded birth control is provided through the ACA, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood and by most employer health insurance, and where sterilization is readily available and covered for women by the ACA and Medicaid, and where government insurance and federally funded Planned Parenthood cover patient education and counseling related to abortion. Abortion related to rape, incest, or endangerment of a woman's life is also federally funded, and 17 state Medicaid programs cover abortion with "segregated funds" so as to comply with the Hyde Amendment.
In many other countries, including most of Europe, sterilization, birth control, and abortion are all universally available and state-funded.
But these "services" alone will not solve the "problem" of rising population. India's population will rise to 1.7 billion in 2050, with Nigeria reaching 400 million and even the U.S. at 390 million.
Those additional young people will make a large contribution to the economy, but the elderly consume a greater than average share of medical services and no longer make a large contribution to economic productivity. From an environmental and economic perspective, euthanasia, whether voluntary or forced, would contribute to global well-being.
Euthanasia by another name was popular with the Obama administration and will probably be popular with Biden's: Obama's Medicare director, Donald Berwick, proposed providing elderly individuals with palliative care in place of costly treatment in their final months of life. They are just too much of an economic burden. It's a short step from "painkillers but no treatment" to euthanasia. Actually, aren't they the same thing?
There is no way around it. If one believes that carbon is killing the Earth, as I do not, one must consider both options. Humans must agree to reduce their carbon footprint by radically restricting their patterns of consumption and lifestyle, and they must accept widespread population control measures. If implemented globally and forcefully, these measures would reduce global population and lower carbon emissions incrementally.
Yet even if we reach net zero, that too would not be enough. Natural sources of carbon emissions would continue to drive climate change. Natural forces may be responsible for most climate change — even the EPA cannot say how much.
Natural sources will continue to drive climate change because they constitute a significant level of greenhouse gas emissions. Cattle, for example, emit 1.85% of total methane emissions as opposed to volcanoes, deep-sea vents, and other natural sources, which emit far more. According to a 2010 EPA report, the level of greenhouse gas emissions from natural sources is significant but not clearly understood: there are "different estimates" of levels of methane and nitrous oxide emitting from a wide range of natural origins, from ocean vents to soil emissions, natural wildfires, volcanoes, and other sources.
Natural emissions are part of climate cycles that the Earth has experienced since its beginnings. And what is so very bad about a changing climate? Before life even appeared on Earth, the climate was changing, and it will continue to change after we humans are gone. Why not accept the change, deal with it, and enjoy it?
Environmentalists will be pleased to know that, all by itself, human population is projected to decline after mid-century as existing humans decide to reproduce at lower rates. Japan's population, for example, has fallen from its peak of 128 million in 2008 to 125 million today and is projected to fall to 70 million by 2060. The real problem that we may face is too few humans as many countries — not just Japan and most of Europe, but throughout the world — commit demographic suicide.
The anti-human teachings of radical environmentalism don't make this situation any better. They must be tossed out and replaced by a pro-life philosophy that recognizes the truth that human life is a miracle and that every birth is a precious gift. With that knowledge, we can look to 2050 and beyond with confidence, not with AOC's fear-mongering, and we can defend all human life from conception to natural death.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).