Saturday, April 02, 2005

World Is Ending; Don't Bother With Mortgage Payment

Anything with the words "U.N. Report" on it, including coffee mugs and tee shirts, tends to bring out my latent somnambulism, so I haven't bothered to read the latest ===> U.N. REPORT. (Have fun putting scare quotes around any part of that phrase.) Evidently, the lord high hoodoos are prophesying doomsday, with the customary survival provisions for those of certified rectitude and/or possessing receipts for appropriate humanitarian contributions. There is of course Vast Research involved, including, I would think, pioneering efforts such as this one. (Select Cover #8.)
There's a very nice deconstruction of the aforementioned Report, excuse me while I get more coffee, grumble, shuffle, right here, from the tireless iconoclasts at the understaffed and underfunded League of David. Although the LoD report reaches conclusions directly contrary to those of the U.N., it has several distinct advantages: It is brief. It reviews real research in a critical manner. It is intelligent. It is right. And it is funny. If you are like me, you were probably won over already at "It is brief."
This all got me wondering whatever happened to Paul Ehrlich, whose pioneering work The Population Bomb scared the ever-lovin' crap out of me in 1968, though fortunately I was able at the time to avail myself of certain trendy herbal remedies. The argument, as I recall, derived from Malthus (I was deeply impressed by footnotes and numbers at the time; also flashing lights and loud music), and concluded that population pressure would destroy us every one (thank you, Tiny Tim), and it would be really really soon, and there wasn't a danged thing we could do about it. You would think that would be the end of the matter, and Ehrlich would have shrugged and stopped writing about page five. But, no, he wants to convince everyone of the truth of what is, after all, inevitable, and then lathers up his bit about What We Must Do. (Calvinism, anyone?) As it turned out, none of his predictions came to pass, and several decades later I decided that he had been wrong, so I maybe I ought to have trained for, like, a career.
Howsoever that may be, it seems that the book is still in print. I was tempted to create a parody, but unfortunately a wag at Amazon beat me to it, and I'm excerpting his remarks below. (Fearless readers who can look the end of the world in the face and tremble not will find visual aids here.)
"I am amazed. I read The Population Bomb in 1996, and thought it a great general warning. Previously I had thought The Limits of Growth a great piece of writing and prediction. So, rather than availing our selves collectively to figure our what the limits of expansion on this planet are, we have experienced the continued vicious assaults by the Republican Right, and their Right Wing Greek Chorus (i.e. Julian Simon, Peter Huber, etc.) decrying anyone interested in ecology and conservation, calling them (us) "eco-Nazis"); all financed by Scaife, Olin, Koch, Coors, Bradley, etc. and their 500 or so right wing "think tanks" which are inhabited by multitudes of so-called "fellows" (to add an academic touch to a group of addled messengers all "on message" in their attempt to discredit any and all who would look objectively at the environment and the limits to growth. They exist soley to provide talking points and heads to the O'Reilley's, Scarboroughs, and other TV nitwits involved in deluging the public in waves of deliberate lies and spin, such as to confuse nearly everyone - and then have it echo back into the very credible media that is left."