First and foremost the notion of steady economic growth – every year an increase in the world's GDP, as The Wentworth Group of Scientists and the Stern Review envisage – will have to go into reverse. We in the affluent world will have to accept substantial reductions in our standard of living to allow space for the poor, mainly in Africa, to improve their nutrition and health status.
To achieve this, income and wealth distribution within our societies will have to become much more equal. The higher up the tree one is, the greater the sacrifice one will have to make.
So far, this is radical, but not unimaginably so. Basically, Reid is arguing for global socialism to benefit the world's poor, which is nothing new. Except, of course, that he goes much farther than that, into a kind of eco-communism; the number of automobiles in the world "will have to be reduced to no more than about 10% of the present number" (so, if you're a poor guy in Africa who's saving up to own your own car, sucks to be you); "meat will be rationed to no more than, say, 200 grams per person per week;" "we could turn some iconic sports arenas into veggie gardens;" "perhaps water meters that turn off automatically after a household's daily ration of water has been consumed will be fitted to every house." That's just for a start, of course: "many, many more such infringements on what we now regard as our rights will have to be accepted."
The real issue is that there are too many people. And this is where Reid goes from totalitarian and scary to BATSHIT INSANE.
When we consider ways to reduce the human population there is a natural dichotomy between ways that kill a very large number of people and ways that control the growth of the population, that is, ways that prevent people from breeding.
War, Pestilence, and Famine, three of the horsemen of the apocalypse, can bring about a reduction in the human population. But these kill on a scale of tens of millions, which is not enough to solve the problem of over-population. And they are most brutal in the ways they kill. Consequently, let us consider the alternative.
Reed argues, in short, that Western governments should spike their water supplies with viruses designed to prevent the vast majority of people from reproducing.
I'll let you chew on that for a moment. The guy argues that the first world should perpetrate GERM WARFARE ON ITS OWN PEOPLE.
But wait, who'll support those aging populations? After all, European countries depend heavily on immigrants to pay the taxes that fuel their welfare states, and Reid is arguing for even bigger governments. If the lot of the poor improves worldwide, those folks aren't going to emigrate from their home countries. So who's going to care for the aging childless? Don't worry. Reid's on it!
A triage approach will be necessary so that scarce medical resources go to those who can contribute most to the long-term viability of the planet. Consequently, many middle-aged-to-elderly people will die uncomfortable deaths. Not every problem is solveable.
Well, at least he's honest about it.
I'm not surprised to hear people say this stuff, but I am rather startled to see it given space in a public forum. Because it reads like a first stage to one of my personal horrifying futures. It's not too much of a stretch from advocating drastic steps to curtail overpopulation to realizing that one way to get rid of excess population is to, um, kill people. And once Reid, or one of his crowd, make that leap, the only remaining questions are how, who, and where.
(If you're curious, there are two ways I can see ecogenocide working. The first would be for adherents to take control of a first world government and embark on a depopulation program. That's the European scenario, because I'm pretty sure that's the only place it could work. Not just because a strong government and centralized water supplies would be a big help -- though Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge killed more than a million Cambodians without the benefit of such -- but because the ideological base is there, in some ways, and could wind up in the insane place with time and some prodding. The second, my personal nightmare scenario, would be for adherents to leave the First World alone and target the Third. Overpopulation? Yup. Too many people to feed? Yup. Requiring massive amounts of pollution and environmental despolation to modernize? Absolutely. The First World is rich enough to angst about the environment. When you're poor enough that you need bushmeat to feed your family, you don't give a crap about the declining numbers of mountain gorillas. Also, if you're convinced the First World's wealth is built on the backs of the Third, eliminating or drastically reducing the Third World will inevitably lead to reducing the footstamp of the First.)