|"You have to break a lot of eggs to|
make an omelette."
And yet all this has now apparently become unnecessary. The birth rate in China, as in most of East Asia and the world, has fallen dramatically, and is now well below replacement level.
The callousness and fanaticism (also sheer stupidity) of some of the comments New York Times readers, liberal and no doubt mostly secular Americans and Canadians, concerned over "the Environment" (a god to which we must sacrifice our children, now) were almost as disheartening as the article itself.
Seven of the first 13 comments took that tone. I've copied them here, with a slightly lengthened version of my reply, following.
RTC: While I don't doubt the brutality of the Chinese regime, the awful fact is there are too many human beings on this planet. We have decimated the oceans and the land. We are destroying the very ecosystem that gives us life. The Chinese regime may be brutal but the disaster that looms on the horizon will be far worse. All the problems we face from climate change to energy to famine are problems of population. The population of Africa continues to increase even as more and more land turns to desert. I'm not sure what the answer is but shutting our eyes to the problem will lead to unimaginable suffering. Allowing the population of the planet to expand to 10 billion is inconceivably irresponsible. When I was born the human population was 1/3 what it is now. We have tripled in one lifetime. When I think about it it doesn't seem possible. The harsh reality is that we are no long a species sharing this world; we are a plague upon it.
LSB: Over population is the cause of most of the world's problems. China may have a barbaric answer to this problem, but is it any worse then the U.S. policy of attempting to deny birth control of any type. A policy that encourages women to have as many children as possible, most of whom will become throw away citizens, or cheap labor for the false god of never ending growth.
Rob: How many billion more people should china have? Should we have 500-600 million immigrate here to take off the pressure?
Steve: What effect has the Chinese policy had on world population? It seems likely that without the one child policy would we have an even steeper rise in world population.
The current population of seven billion seems to be straining the carrying capacity of the planet.
Based on this article, the policy has spawned abuses and unintended consequences.
Nevertheless, perhaps on balance it is a praise worthy effort to stem ecological disaster?
BRNT: Some of the methods may have been cruel but I believe their one-child policy is good for China and good for the world. This world cannot support the rapid population growth we have.
Rob Sig: China is the only country in the world to act seriously to deal with population growth. Overpopulation is the single greatest problem on the planet, inextricably tied to all the other crises, such as climate change, water shortages, the decimation of wildlife. Gorillas, Orangutangs, chimpanzees, tigers, elephants, frogs, and hundreds of other species may all be extinct within our lifetime. Too many people! Not enough jobs? Too many people! Rising food prices? Too many people! Dwindling fossil fuels? Too many people! Atmospheric pollution, water pollution? Too many people! Immigration crises? Too many people! Perpetual traffic jams? Too many people! Destruction of our forests? etc.
It is way past time to make this the issue of our generation. Nations, wake up! And all you selfish people who want three or four children, think about the consequences of your actions for the planet. Soon the water wars will begin. And wait until a fracking accident ruins a water supply or two. With too many mouths to feed all of our problems will become unsolvable in a very near future.
SK: Yes we all have freedom to have children.
But we are now running over this earth. We are driving out other species.
Our activities are altering earth in incredible ways and may be calling earth's very survival as a livable place in question.
Having too many children is number one reason for poverty in the world..if we all had just one child - humans will still survive and thrive, earth will survive too. Perhaps there should be a global one child policy...
Notable Skeptic: What is your recommendation for population control? Forced sterilization? People want to procreate. There are not enough resources for everyone to do so. Is it crueler to force an abortion or let a child starve?
Reply: Are the apocalyptic environmentalists not reading the article? The birth rate has fallen to well below replacement levels in China, now, as it has in every other neo-Confucian country. (And in much of the rest of the world.) Nor is "starvation" the alternative to forced abortions: China has a good chunk of our money, and is no longer a poor country. The standard of living in China is rising rapidly, and would in no way be impeded if families were allowed the freedom to choose how many children to have -- as they were during the American industrial revolution, and as they were in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, during the same phases of development. Letting people live their own lives, sometimes works out, folks!
There is little danger of "famine" in China, now: there is a greater danger that the United States will go bankrupt, trying to service our debt.
The one-child policy is no longer needed, if it ever was. It's cruelty and murder, for the sake of cruelty and murder: "a boot stamping on the face of (wo)man." As in other East Asian countries, as living standards improve, the environment is (belatedly) becoming a priority, and China is gaining the means to improve it. If some Chinese parents want to have ten children, that is no skin off your backs, folks.
Nor are fossil fuels "dwindling:" in fact known stockpiles are now much larger than they were forty years ago, when Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb forecast the doom these posters still seem to be feverishly anticipating. (And growing rapidly.) Hasn't the Newspaper of Record told its readers about the oil booms in North Dakota, Colorado, West Texas, and Pennsylvania? Citizens of the hippy communes never die: they just subscribe to the New York Times. (Or write for it, as Karl Marx himself did.)
One poster does mention fracking, as if it were a terrible thing, rather than liberating us from debt and dependence on the whims of Middle Eastern tyrants who really do not seem to care about the environment.
Water and air pollution are also much less severe than they were 40 years ago in the United States, and in much of the rest of the world. Forests have come back. There is no reason this shouldn't happen in China, too, as it has in other parts of Asia as life has improved.
LSB (D?) seems to be imagining things. Which US policy of "denying birth control of any time" is he or she talking about? Some Americans do get upset when a "doctor" actively snuffs out the lives of newborn babies. But near as I recall, it is still legal to sell condoms in American stores. The battle now is over whether 30 year old college "kids" have the right to free birth control from their Catholic educational institutions.
But most troubling of all, a few "liberal" posters seem to actually approve of the communists' policy of mass murder to control the "population." (Meaning, people who are not me!)
I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. These were the people who cheered on Marxist tyrannies from the sidelines, using some of the same "end justifies the means, you have to break a lot of eggs to make an omelette" logic. Feminists almost to a man (and certainly woman), they make excuses for Islam, and praise Mohammed, even while women are essentially imprisoned for life throughout much of the Muslim world. Of course they come out for (imaginary) trees and frogs over (real) human beings! Gotta keep them hoi polloi masses trampled underfoot.