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Environmental Malthusianism: integrating population and environmental policy.


When Thomas Malthus warned of the dangers of overpopulation in his 1798 Essay on Population, he was concerned mostly about food.(1) Malthus warned that if the world's population was permitted to expand unchecked, growth would be checked by starvation and disease and humankind reduced to subsistence.

Today, although starvation does serve as a modest check on population expansion in underdeveloped areas of the world, world population continues to expand at an incomprehensible rate.(2) Every one-third of a second, at about the speed a machine gun fires its bullets, the planet earth somehow makes room to accommodate an additional human being.(3) Every eighteen days, the world's population expands by a number equal to the entire human population of the world in 5000 B.C. Every five months the population expands by a number equal to the number of humans living in 1575. Every year from now through the twenty-first century, ninety million people will be added to the world population.(4) The world's population has doubled in only three and one-half decades since 1950.(5) This Startling rate of growth is not expected to stabilize for forty to fifty more years.(6)

So was Malthus wrong? Well, yes and no.

Perhaps one-tenth of the world's population suffers from starvation, or at least malnutrition severe enough to affect resistance to disease. Nonetheless, the majority of the five and one-half billion human beings alive today eat, if not heartily, at least as much as is needed to fuel the unabated and unprecedented expansion of the human race. Indeed, the rate at which the human population is expanding today is far greater than it was in 1798 when the population was one-fifth its present size.(7)

Certainly Malthus did not take into account the degree to which the opening of the new world would provide resources to support population expansion for many years to come. Nor did he anticipate the extent to which technology, modern fanning techniques, and the Green Revolution would spur growth in food production.(8) But have such developments refuted basic Malthusian theory, or have they simply delayed the dreaded day of reckoning when Malthusian theory will be vindicated with full force and virulence?

Frankly, the vindication and broad public acceptance of Malthusian theory has not been aided by the small and vocal group of Malthusian doomsayers who perennially predict eminent disasters of resource depletion or mass starvation. Computer models found in books such as Donella Meadows' 1972 The Limits to Growth(9) and her 1992 I'm-really-serious-now Beyond the Limits(10) have been dismissed by skeptics as just more Malthusian cries of wolf. (Meadows' computer models had predicted, among other disasters, that gold would run out by 1981 and that oil would run out by 1992). Such hyperbole has provided grist for a growing body of increasingly influential anti-Malthusians, who maintain that population growth is not only not a problem, but actually a very healthy phenomenon necessary for continued economic growth and continued increases in the human population's standard of living. Although certainly sincere, much of this work has been counter-productive inasmuch as it has diminished in the public consciousness the integrity of basic Malthusian assumptions. It gives the anti-Malthusians the chance to say again and again `I told you so,' and to relegate the Malthusians to the level of the soap box and the religious fanatic carrying the placard "The End is Near."(11)

A group of theorists led by Julian Simon and Simon Kuznets, for example, have argued that when population expansion causes a shortage of resources, human ingenuity is spurred to create substitutes, as when a shortage of ivory in the last century led to the invention of celluloid.(12) They also point out that a large population makes possible the exploitation of economies of scale principles, such as the mass production of automobiles.(13)

Ester Boserup, in her 1981 book Population and Technological Change,(14) observes that it has been overpopulation which historically has led to the creation of a highly developed human civilization. She cites the example of ancient Mesopotamia, which over a period of 8000 years became very densely populated: "Gradually, the population changed from primitive food gatherers to people who applied the most sophisticated systems of food production existing in the ancient world."(15) Thus, overpopulation led to the development of infrastructure, roads, and "the creation of cities [which] allow[ed] for greater specialization and more efficient organization of the economy."(16) The larger population in turn permitted a more efficient division of labor.(17)

These anti-Malthusians further cite the theories of labor postulated by William Petty(18) and Adam Smith.(19) As Petty illustrated, "[i]n the making of a Watch, if one man shall make the Wheels, another a Spring, another shall Engrave the Dial-plate, and another shall make the Cases, then the Watch will be better and cheaper, than if the whole Work be put upon any one man."(20)

Adam Smith followed up on this theory with his example of pin production, in which "a single worker might tam out at most twenty pins a day, a factory employing a team of ten workers manages to produce twelve pounds a day, or 48,000 pins, 4800 per worker."(21)

In her 1988 book The War Against Population,(22) Jacqueline Kasun presents a diagram purporting to show that there is no statistical relationship between rates of population growth and rates of economic growth, concluding that "[m]any countries with high rates of population growth have high rates of per capita output growth, while the converse is also true."(23) She also points out that some of the places with the highest population density, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Netherlands, also have some of the highest per capita output growth rates.(24)

The anti-Malthusians have also enjoyed support from organized religion. A gathering of bishops assembled to defend the Pope's ban on birth control has asserted that the earth could feed forty billion people, or eight times the present population.(25)

Views on population that are influenced by religious views on such practices as family planning and birth control are in accord with the classic and traditional view of population as a source of ultimate wealth. As Joseph Schumpeter has noted, with rare exceptions, kings, philosophers, and economists alike have traditionally been enthusiastic about all increasing population:(26)

In fact, until the middle of the eighteenth century, they were as nearly

unanimous in this `populationist' attitude as they [had] ever been in

anything. A numerous and increasing population was the most important

symptom of wealth; it was the chief cause of wealth; it was wealth

itself--the greatest asset for a nation to have.(27)

To be sure, traditional Malthusians have their counter-arguments. While conceding the basic point that resource shortages may spur the invention of substitutes, they point out that air, waterways, and soil have a limited capacity to sustain an expanding population, regardless of how many resource substitutes are invented through the application of human ingenuity.

Massimo Livi-Bacci, for example, made this point with his illustration of the population isolated in a deep valley. Initially, the fertile and easily irrigated land is cultivated on the plain along the river. As the population expands, however, it becomes necessary to cultivate the more difficult to irrigate and less fertile land on the slopes of the valley. Although further expansion of population may be made possible by even more intense cultivation, the gains are limited because eventually the point is reached when additional inputs of labor no longer effectively increase production, and returns per unit of land or labor ultimately diminish.(28)

The Catholic bishops' assertion that the earth could feed and sustain forty billion people(29) is based on highly unrealistic assumptions. The assertion would further require that all humans agree to live on a subsistence vegetarian diet, and--in an assumption which is particularly galling to Malthusians--that all farms are as productive as a specific laboratory farm in Iowa (a feat unmatched by other Iowa farms, let alone the degraded farms of the third world).(30) In addition, the estimate is based on other unrealistic assumptions, such as: 1) all food is evenly distributed, 2) all available crop land is deforested without soil erosion, 3) heavy use is made of fertilizers containing phosphorus that pours into the oceans, 4) no livestock is raised, and 5) no cash crops such as coffee or cotton are grown.(31)

An interesting question to those who assert the viability of a population of forty billion might be as follows: assuming that such a population level is somehow achieved, would religious or political principles then be compromised to permit no greater expansion? In other words, if forty billion turned out to be the absolute limit of the earth's capacity to support humans and the alternative to placing limits on population expansion was indeed mass starvation on a Malthusian scale, would the encouragement rather than prohibition of abortion and birth control then become morally defensible and in accordance with deeply held religious principles?

Assertions such as those made by Kasun that some of the most densely populated countries have the highest standard of living have been refuted by Paul Ehrlich. Referring to such assertions as examples of the "Netherlands Fallacy," Ehrlich points out that "[t]he Netherlands can support 1,031 people per square mile only because the rest of the world does not. In 1984-86, the Netherlands imported almost 4 million tons of cereals, 130,000 tons of oils, and 480,000 tons of pulses (peas, beans, lentils)."(32)

With regard to Kasun's diagram purporting to show no statistical relationship between a country's population density and its economic growth rate, I pointed out in my 1994 book Population, Law, and the Environment,(33) that

[t]he problem with Kasun's chart(34) (and thus her conclusion) is that it

makes no distinction between countries which have a large preexisting

economic base and those that do not. Thus, a desperately poor third world

country with a high rate of population growth but that raised its annual

per capita income

from $100 to $110 would appear on the chart as a country with

an exceedingly high 10% growth rate(35)

--two or three times as high as the growth rate in a developed country like Japan or the United States.(36) Of course, the $10 increase in per capita income might reflect nothing more exciting than a rise in the price of cocoa that year.

The debate will continue as long as the Malthusian date of reckoning is postponed; that is, until food production growth and technology fail to accommodate the expansion in population.(37) It seems that Malthusians will be denied any claim of vindication absent evidence of broad-based starvation, which directly serves to reduce the entire world population. Isolated historical events, such as the Irish potato famine of the 1850s or the current tragedy of half a billion people starving in underdeveloped countries (45,000 children dying every day, and over a billion humans living in squalor), will continue to be chalked up to misallocative economic systems or bad farming methods.

Anti-Malthusians point to the fact that the dire predictions of latter day Malthusian zealots have failed to come true, and point to the failure of Malthusians to envision such developments as the Green Revolution and technological progress as means of accommodating an ever expanding population. Just as pre-Columbian Europeans did not dream of a New World in the western hemisphere to accommodate population expansion, today's short-sighted doomsayers cannot envision the colonization of the solar system or other planets in the galaxy.

In fact, a close look at the Malthusian debate reveals that the protagonists do not disagree as much as they claim. Even the most zealous anti-Malthusian concedes that there are limits to how many people the earth can hold. Presumably these limits will be reached before the earth becomes a ball of flesh expanding at the speed of light.(38)

Likewise, responsible Malthusians concede that human ingenuity has postponed, and probably will continue to postpone, the day of Malthusian reckoning for some time to come.(39) It is not a trivialization of this great debate to suggest that the debate is reducible to a simple disagreement about timing. The current debate also begs the real issue: assuming that there is a limit on the capacity of the earth to support an expanding population, what forces of law or nature should be relied upon to check that expansion short of the dreaded Malthusian consequences of starvation and subsistence? Will humankind continue to rely upon starvation, disease, wars, and plagues, as it has in the past? Or is civilized human society capable of devising more humane checks which can be imposed consistent with human dignity and compassion? When should the checks be imposed? Is the greater risk in imposing checks too soon, or too late?

One answer is suggested by shifting the debate from the traditional Malthusian focus on food to a more immediate focus on the environment.(40)


Environmental issues have been no less divisive than population issues. At one end of the spectrum are the traditional "environmentalists" who pursue a political agenda set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a plethora of private environmental organizations which have been described as "10,000 hopelessly decentralized groups competing for funds."(41) The 1996 Conservation Directory(42) lists major organizations, covering every conceivable aspect of a diverse environmental agenda, including the Xerces Society, which promotes the preservation of snails and slugs.(43)

At the other end of the spectrum are the environmental backlash movements,(44) such as the Sagebrush Rebellion(45) of the late 1970s, which represented interests in Western states that wanted to have federal land transferred to local control. In addition, the "Wise Use" movement began in 1988 to represent the interests of a coalition of the mining, ranching, and energy industries and promoted such causes as the clear-cutting of old growth forests, development of national parks by enterprises such as Walt Disney, and the opening up of public lands to mineral exploitation.(46)

The anti-environmentalist movement began in 1988 with a series of conferences sponsored by the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise(47) and attended by groups such as the Jackaloupes Motorcycle Club and the Cougar Mountain Snowmobile Association.(48) In the early 1990s, the "Alliance for America" was formed, coordinating over 125 groups "who view environmental groups as a threat to their livelihood and way of life."(49) Alan Gottlieb, a fundraiser for many groups in the Alliance described the coalition as fighting "an evil empire."(50) For these groups, "the environmental movement has become the perfect bogey man."(51)

Extremist groups abound at both ends of the spectrum. At one end are groups such as Greenpeace, whose tactics include blockading chemical plants, sailing boats into nuclear sites, and delivering stinking fish to annual board meetings of companies accused of polluting livers. Even more extreme are groups which draw their inspiration from Edward Abbey's 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, in which four saboteurs blow up bridges and other structures that they believe detract from the beauty of the Colorado River.(52) Doug Bandow, a Cato Institute fellow, warns that "[w]ith groups apparently prepared to bomb sawmills, down electrical towers, and decapitate cyclists--and ads being placed for terminally ill volunteers to launch kamikaze attacks on dams--ecoterrorism can no longer be dismissed as minor. We risk the development of an ecological guerrilla movement...."(53)

At the other end of the spectrum are groups such as the "Sahara Club," whose president Rick Sieman promised to "settle matters [with environmentalists] with `baseball bats.'"(54) According to one journalist, the Club's newsletter offered a "$100 bounty for the arrest of any Earth First! member caught breaking the law."(55)

In the middle of the spectrum are hundreds of well-meaning and relatively responsible organizations. In 1988, for example, when members of Earth First! were chaining themselves to bulldozers in a vain effort to stop development of a wilderness area near Austin, Texas,(56) the Nature Conservancy presented a compromise plan that set aside 29,000 acres as a preserve funded by fees on developers.(57)

Even among large, respectable environmental groups, however, some members have had second thoughts about the legitimacy of what they are doing. One disillusioned former member of a major environmental organization has lamented that

[t]he environmental organizations courted disaster when they

"succeeded," American-style. When they got too big, too rich

and too remote from the environmental effects of their actions....

Most of all when we abandoned moral appeal for fund-raising appeals,

when we substituted holy war against the infidel for the sweet

science of swaying souls. Like our competitors in organized

religion, especially the televangelists, we enviros lost our

credibility when we bought into the junk-mail business. When

the salvation we offered lost out to our insatiable need for

money.... Poverty, chastity and obedience wilted before the

prospect of empire and power, "careers" in the institutionalized

environmental movement.(58)

A recent poll suggested that a vast majority of Americans consider themselves to be "environmentalists"--that is, they express concern about their environment and favor policies which retard its degradation.(59) Relatively few Americans, however, sympathize with any type of serious governmental population policy. Rather, environmental policy is viewed as separate and apart from population policy. This raises the question of just how effective current environmental policy is in the absence of a concomitant population policy.

Current environmental policy is to spend billions on curative and reactionary programs--that is, policies directed towards cleaning up past environmental disasters, or reacting to current ones. There is little time or money spent addressing the underlying causes of environmental degradation. As a result, most environmental policies, lacking a population component, are nothing more than an environmental placebo, making citizens feel better thinking that something is being done by spending so much time, money, and energy.

The most honest of environmental policy makers have frankly conceded as much. Former EPA administrator Lee Thomas has stated that "[t]his circle game (of transferring pollution from one medium to another) has got to stop. At best it is misleading--we think we are solving a problem and we aren't. At worst it is perverse--it increase(s) ... pollution."(60)

Examples of the "circle game" abound. When a chemical company outside Jacksonville, Arkansas, sought permission to dispose of 28,300 barrels of toxic waste that had been piling up at the site of an abandoned pesticide factory, environmental groups leaped into action, forcing the company into bankruptcy (after which it merely relocated to Memphis, Tennessee).(61) Expensive lawsuits and political action prevented dioxin burning for ten years, prompting the United Nations to call their efforts an "environmental success story."(62) Unheralded, however, was the final inevitable chapter in which the EPA, in January of 1992, finally granted the Jacksonville site a license to bum the toxins.(63) Thus, the net result of millions of dollars of expenditure on an "environmental" cause was the transfer of pollution from the soil to the air.(64)

The circle game includes not only the transfer of pollution from one medium to another, but from one geographic location to another. When an Arkansas community learned that a 300 acre landfill was to be located nearby, the Environmental Congress began its long environmental campaign to prevent the location of the dump near the community. After the expenditure of vast sums for the purpose of "protecting the environment," the landfill was relocated in the Ouachita River Basin, where according to one observer, "one flood will spread garbage and God-knows what downstream for 60 or 100 miles."(65)

Inevitably, the victims of such environmental success stories are the poorest and most powerless communities. A hazardous waste incineration company in the poor Arkansas town of El Dorado was known to be importing waste and garbage from forty-eight states and foreign countries.(66) New York City's idea of an environmental program was to heap piles of waste onto barges, which then commenced an odyssey among the world's sea lanes seeking a community poor enough to accept it.(67) In early 1997, Taiwan found a willing dump for nuclear waste in the starving country of North Korea.(68)

In the United States, the idea of an environmental program among such elite and rich communities as Boulder, Colorado is simply to keep the riffraff out. In Colorado, representatives of local communities successfully managed to lobby the federal government to disapprove the Two Forks darn water project, which would have provided water to support thirsty new Colorado communities. Although hailed as a great environmental victory, unheralded was the fact that environmental benefits for Coloradans had been gained by excluding those who would otherwise have come to Colorado to live by denying water to new communities.(69) The question was never asked, of course, where the people who would otherwise have come to Colorado would go instead. Would they go to Arizona, where demands for water contribute to the accelerating and nonsustaining depletion of aquifers and underground reservoirs? Would they go to California where water rationing had been introduced and a vicious war for water between farmers and cities was gaining momentum? Wherever these faceless people went, it is certainly not clear that their demand for water and resources would not have created environmental damage equal to or greater than that which they would have caused in Colorado.

The United States purports to spend two percent of its GNP on environmental programs and causes.(70) In fact, however, the great bulk of such expenditures are actually spent on the legal confrontations between government agencies and special interest groups--in other words on litigation, lawyers, propaganda, and support of bloated bureaucracies. Private groups pursuing narrow uncoordinated interests siphon off billions of tax-deductible dollars. Billions are spent on NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) policies, in which pollution is merely transferred from point A to point B, or from one medium to another. The cost effectiveness of such programs defies both comprehension and common sense.

TVA v. Hill(71) still stands as the classic monument to the hypocrisy, counter-productivity, and outright stupidity of current environmental policy. At a time when one entire living species is sacrificed every day, and one vertebrate species is eliminated every nine months in order to provide resources and living space for an exponentially expanding human race,(72) the Supreme Court in 1978 interpreted federal environmental law to require halting the completion of the Tellico dam project, on which over seventy-eight million dollars had already been expended, on grounds that it would endanger a sub-species of snail darter.(73) Proposals that the snail darter could be transferred to another site,(74) and that thousands of America's poorest citizens would be deprived of an affordable and clean energy source(75) were considered to be immaterial.(76) As the Court stated in its opinion,(77) "[i]t may seem curious to some that the survival of a relatively small number of three inch fish among the countless millions of extant species would require the permanent halting of a virtually completed dam for which Congress had already expended $100 million."(78)

`Curious' may indeed be the best description of current environmental policy, because it inexplicably fails to take into account the underlying cause of environmental degradation--the demand for resources required to support an ever expanding human population.


It has already been noted that the human population is now expanding at the rate of one additional human being every one-third of a second.(79) In light of such expansion, a threshold question is how much additional demand on the earth's resources must be satisfied in order to provide that one additional human being with a living standard sufficient to meet minimum standards of human dignity. This one additional human being will require fuel and energy resources which, when consumed will release 1,000 kilograms of carbon into the atmosphere each year.(80) To meet everyday needs, she will require that 660 cubic meters of water be made available from wells, reservoirs, and rivers,(81) and that 67 gigajoules of energy be produced from non-renewable resources.(82) For shelter, she will demand her share of wood resources, including non-renewable tropical rainforests now being destroyed for her consuming pleasure at an estimated annual rate of 100 acres per minute.(83) For minimum sustenance, she will require 50 tons of food, 10,000 pounds of fertilizer,(84) 21,000 gallons of gasoline, 13,000 pounds of paper, and 52 tons of iron and steel.(85) Her waste products will include her share of 300,000 metric tons of phosphorus dumped annually into the oceans,(86) 270,000 metric tons of methane,(87) 30,000 metric tons of sulfur,(88) and 80,000 metric tons of poisonous carbon monoxide released into the air.(89) When she dies, her epitaph Will be written on a monument of waste and garbage 4000 times her body weight.

It is for such levels of human consumption that living species must be sacrificed every day, and entire vertebrate species must become forever extinct.(90) And I repeat, all of the above is for each one additional human added to the earth's population every one-third of a second.

It is often said that population problems are limited to third world countries, where the expanding population outweighs the ability to develop resources needed to support living standards necessary for a minimum level of human dignity.(91) In this sense, it is true that the classic Malthusian consequences of starvation, disease, and misery are concentrated in the third world. But if Malthusian consequences are broadened to include environmental degradation, there is a far greater population problem in the developed countries than in the underdeveloped countries.

For example, it has been noted that in order to meet minimum living standards, energy and resources must be provided to each human, which, when consumed, release 3.2 tons of carbon into the atmosphere.(92) However, if the one additional human added to the world's population happens to be born in China, she would emit seven times less than a human from the United States, and a human born in India would emit twenty-fives times less than an American.(93) Thus, in the context of environmental Malthusianism, the real population problem is not in China, India, or Rwanda, but in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Surprisingly, the principles of environmental Malthusianism were recognized historically long before the development of traditional Malthusianism, which focused primarily on food and subsistence. As early as 500 B.C., Plato expressed concern about the relationship of the human population to the environment, noting the erosion of soils caused by the deforestation which resulted from increased demand for wood by an expanding population.(94)

However, just as the opening of the New World, technological innovation, and the Green Revolution have postponed the day of traditional Malthusian consequences in the developed world, so have advancements in engineering and technology appeared to have delayed the day of environmental reckoning.

Several examples illustrate this point. In the United States, for instance, forests are thicker than they were one hundred years ago.(95) Tokyo's air quality has been improving dramatically.(96) Twenty-three industrialized countries have reduced their release of ozone-depleting compounds by 50% since 1987.(97) Between 1980 and 1989 France and Germany reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 50%, and the United States has reduced carbon dioxide omissions by 25%.(98) In addition, one hundred years ago the River Thames in England was so polluted that people near the river had to use rags soaked with chloride in order to breath.(99) By 1979, after the building of water purification plants, the Thames produced salmon for the first time in centuries.(100)

However, these pockets of environmental improvement in the developed world do not undermine environmental Malthusianism any more than traditional Malthusianism is undermined by good nutrition in developed countries. For every celebrated example of the modest contributions of environmental technology in the richest countries, there are untold disasters elsewhere. In India, for example, the Benares River is a cesspool of typhoid and cholera caused by industrial wastes and by the routine dumping of raw sewage and over 10,000 human corpses and 60,000 dead animals annually.(101)

What the world's expanding population is doing to the environment can be seen in microcosm in the district of Kish in Kenya. A journalist traveling to that country has made the following observation:

[A]s far as the eye can see the District appears to be bursting under the

sheer weight of rapid population growth. Almost all the arable land is

being cultivated, including steep slopes. Plots are becoming smaller and

providing less income as holdings are divided and bordered by hedges,

making the fertile equatorial landscape resemble a checkered chessboard.

As farmers overwork the land, soil erosion and exhaustion of fertility are

becoming more marked.

The pressure on schools and health clinics is immense, and rural

unemployment is growing, bringing increased social and domestic problems.

Many young people who are being forced off the land, are migrating into

urban centers ...

Kish is Kenya's most populous district, but the population explosion is


The notion that somehow future advancements in technology Will result in a moderation or reduction in the pollutants and toxic wastes released into the environment by an exponentially expanding population is an illusion, effective only to lighten apprehensions about the future.

Consider the Clean Air Act which mandated the installation of pollution control devices in automobiles, or the California law requiring the installation of exhaust control devices in cars. While these controls did indeed result in a modest 12% reduction in hydrocarbon levels, they substantially increased noxious nitrogen oxide emissions by 28%.(103) One comprehensive study of the auto emission laws concluded that one pollution problem has been replaced by another.(104) A more classic example of the circle game cannot be found.

Even the modest reduction in hydrocarbons was more than offset by increases in the number of automobiles. For every one additional human being born in or immigrating to the United States, almost two motor vehicles are added. Thus, each year in the United States four million cars are added to the supply of motor vehicles.(105) Worldwide, the increases in motor vehicles are even more staggering(106) In South Korea alone, the number of cars spewing pollution into the atmosphere increased from 129,000 in 1970 to 2.04 million in 1988.(107) China is adding half a million more, and India recently doubled its fleet to three millions,(108)

Thus, for every modest advance taken by science to reduce pollution, population expansion takes it three steps backward. Even in Alice in Wonderland, one could run as fast as one could and still stay in the same place. In a world of rapidly accelerating environmental degradation, the population explosion prevents even science and technology from arresting the decline in the environment.

Nor can salvation be found in such fancies as the future development of alternative energy sources. For example, there is much work being done on the development of an electric car--as if the consumption of electrical energy rather than hydrocarbons will provide an ultimate environmental cure. It is the classic example of the circle trap--the illusion that one kind of pollution might be reduced, while another which is created can be conveniently ignored.

Even assuming that all cars can be converted to electrical propulsion, where will the electrical energy come from? Will the energy come from non-renewable natural gas, from coal or other hydrocarbons which pollute the environment and cause such climatical horrors as acid rain, or from nuclear power plants, the waste from which remains radioactive for thousands of years and which must ultimately be dumped in such places as North Korea?

"Environmentalists" love to tout the development of such "clean" energy sources as sun, water, or wind power.(109) Even assuming such sources could supply all of an expanding population's energy needs, such sources of energy carry their own environmental price. Water power requires the building of immense dams which devastate local ecosystems and contribute to the elimination of living species. Even such an apparently clean source as wind power, when actually harnessed in usable quantities, causes environmental problems.

In the early 1980s, 17,000 100-foot high wind turbines were built across California, no doubt at the urging of environmentalists who cherished the illusion of creating clean energy to provide for the needs of the expanding population.(110) By 1990, these windmills were indeed providing an impressive 1 percent of California's energy needs.(111) It took only a few years for outraged groups from another branch of the environmental movement to decry the windmills as worse than the ravages of strip mining, and as a landscape worse than "Salvador Dali's worst nightmare."(112) One environmental lobbyist claimed that "these huge wind turbines are virtual Cusinarts for birds."(113) Another proclaimed that "[w]ind energy is great, but we can't go around killing the very environment we're trying . . . to protect."(114) In England, environmentalists have launched national campaigns against windmills.(115) So much for the idea of clean energy.

The problem, of course, is that no amount of technological advancement or imaginative use of alternative resources can create more rivers or increase the total volume of the air. As one environmental researcher has noted, the carrying capacity of the earth is limited because the waste carrying capacity of such mediums as water and air is fixed and Absolute.(116) It is these capacity carrying limitations rather than an absolute shortage of resources that will trigger the onset of Environmental Malthusian consequences.(117) Thus, while billions are spent attempting to transfer the waste products of an expanding human population from point A to B, or from one medium to another, relatively paltry sums are spent on the underlying cause of environmental degradation.

Although "rearranging the deck chairs on the Manic" is a cliche, it seems particularly descriptive of current environmental policy. I therefore repeat the following description:

Environmentalists are busy transferring a deck chair of toxic wastes from

the promenade deck to the engine room, or shuffling garbage from the first

class to the third class living areas. Each environmental group is

interested in a particular deck chair, and the groups fight among

themselves, or with the captain, about which chair will be moved, who will

get to use the chairs, or whether it would be better if people used fewer

chairs per person. Others see salvation in producing more deck chairs. The

passengers spend billions of dollars supporting one group or another in

their bid to move the chairs or determine who may use them. Meanwhile, the

entire ship is sinking under the weight of humanity because the ship

acknowledges no limits to the number of passengers it can accommodate.(118)


In 1992, representatives from the nations of the world met at the much publicized World Environmental Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Population issues were not on the agenda, and population groups were not invited.(119) Environmental groups rarely, if ever, take policy positions on such population issues as family planning, abortion, or immigration. Why are such groups so reluctant to address the underlying causes of environmental degradation?

The answer might be found in the polls. A poll revealed that four out of every five citizens identify themselves as "environmentalists."(120) Issues such as family planning and abortion, on the other hand, are controversial and sensitive. Why jeopardize fundraising efforts by getting into a controversial area? As long as fundraising efforts are directed at such horrors as the brutal clubbing of baby-faced white seals, the devastation of pristine coastlines by oil spills from tankers such as the Exxon Valdez, or the clearcutting of non-renewable rainforests, the money keeps rolling in.

But the real issues are rarely, if ever, directly addressed by the major environmental organizations, or by such governmental agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These issues are the high demand for oil and the corresponding need to transport the oil long distances, and the high demand for wood products and shelter.

Ask the citizens of Kisii.(121)

Demands on the carrying capacities and resources of the earth are increasing because the number of people making these demands is increasing at an exponential rate.(122) The ultimate cause of environmental degradation is not that living standards are rising too high for the people alive today, but that the number of people who will be demanding those living standards in the future is rising at an exponential rate.

Traditional Malthusianism therefore requires a broadening of its scope in order to consider the underlying causes of environmental degradation, and to integrate population and environmental policy. Many of these issues, such as abortion, immigration, family planning, free trade, and models of economic growth have not previously been considered in the context of traditional Malthusian theory. The remainder of this article will address those issues briefly, and reveal how they are all relevant to a comprehensive theory of environmental Malthusianism.

A. Abortion

The link between the issue of population growth and abortion was recognized by Justice Blackmun writing for a U.S. Supreme Court majority in Roe v. Wade when he observed that "[p]opulation growth . . . tend[s] to complicate . . . the problem [of abortion]."(123)

Despite this reference, however, few environmental or population groups have reinforced this connection. Because the issue of abortion is so divisive, it is understandable that environmental groups have avoided it. Not surprisingly, anti-abortion groups vigorously deny any connection between population and abortion issues. But abortion is in fact an issue which cannot be avoided in any discussion of population and the environment.

Abortion is primarily a problem in countries which do not have adequate family planning programs. In the Netherlands, for example, contraceptives are widely available and the people are educated as to their use. As a result, the average abortion rate for women of reproductive age is 0.18, among the lowest in the world, despite the fact that abortion is legal.(124)

By way of comparison, in Romania under Ceaucescu, not only were there no family planning programs, but contraception was prohibited by law. As a result a sickening 60% of all pregnancies were aborted or miscarried, despite a Draconian ban on all abortions enforced by the secret police.(125)

In Mexico, where the Catholic Church has great influence and birth control has been strongly resisted, one third of all women have reportedly had abortions.(126) When a modest, though fiercely resisted family planning program was instituted, the Mexican Social Security Administration estimated that it had "prevented 360,000 abortions since family planning services began in 1972."(127)

A 1987-88 survey revealed that the abortion rate among Catholics, whose church classifies abortion as a serious sin, is 30% higher than among Protestant women.(128) The only explanation for such a result is that the Catholic Church also forbids artificial birth control.

Tragically, even the historical doctrinal basis for the prohibition of abortion has been misunderstood. As early as medieval times, the great Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas had adopted the Aristotelian notion of quickening. According to his teachings it "was clear that there was actual homicide when an ensouled embryo was killed. [It] was equally clear that ensoulment did not take place at conception."(129) In Politicorum, Aquinas stated in no uncertain terms "seed and what is not seed is determined by sensation and movement."(130) This is pretty close to what the Supreme Court said in Roe v. Wade.(131) Indeed, until the mid-to-late-1800s, when doctors began to lobby for abortion laws in order to protect their professional turf, the common law and the laws of most states in the United States permitted abortion before quickening.

Martin Azplicueta, described as "the guide in moral questions of three popes, and the leading canonist of the 16th century,"(132) stated in Consilia that "the rule of the Penitentiary was to treat a fetus over forty days as ensouled. Hence therapeutic abortion was accepted in the case of a fetus under this age."(133)

Indeed it was not until October 29, 1588 that Pope Sixtus V, apparently in a fit of pique and exasperation at the failure of local officials to suppress the local prostitution trade, issued the bull Effraenatam, which for the first time declared abortion to be homicide regardless of the age of the fetus.(134) This bull, based apparently on the dubious assumption that an unwanted child was God's just retribution for lust, mercifully did not stay in effect very long. Two years later Sixtus died, and his bull was reversed by Pope Gregory XIV who, noting that "the hoped for fruit had not resulted," issued amendments to the bull "repeal[ing] all its penalties except those applying to a fetus which had been ensouled."(135)

Official dogma rested there until 1869, when God revealed to Pope Pius IX that Thomas Aquinas, Asplicueta, and Gregory XIX were all wrong, and abortion should again be banned for any fetus, regardless of quickening. There followed a series of even more extreme declarations, culminating in the Humanae Vitae of 1968 which condemned not only abortion, but all forms of artificial birth control, and asserted that intercourse was acceptable only for the specific purpose of having a child.(136)

Regardless of the theological basis for the condemnation of abortion, the effects of its prohibition have been tragic on a scale of human suffering which is almost incomprehensible. The World Health Organization has documented that over 200,000 women die each year from botched illegal abortions.(137) A single hospital in Kenya has reported the admission of forty to sixty women per day who are suffering and dying from the effects of illegal abortions.(138) Even in countries where abortion is now legal, as in Bangladesh, the closing of a United States-funded family planning clinic resulted in a dramatic rise in abortion deaths of young women.(139)

Ironically, abortion rates are highest in states which prohibit it the most strictly. For example, countries such as Ceaucescu's Romania suffered from the highest rates of abortion despite Draconian penalties and enforcement.(140)

In Romania, according to Newsweek magazine, "women under the age of forty-five were rounded up at their workplace every one to three months and taken to clinics, where they were examined for signs of pregnancy, often in the presence of government agents--dubbed the `menstrual police' by some Romanians. A pregnant woman who failed to `produce' babies at the proper time could expect to be summoned for questioning."(141) As a result of such Draconian enforcement of the ban on abortion, illegal abortions soared, and infant mortality skyrocketed to 83 in every 1000 births compared to the Western European average of less than 10 deaths per 1000 births.(142) Abortion is therefore closely related to the availability of family planning.

B. Family Planning

The stabilization of the world's population does not require drastic or Draconian measures such as those instituted in India in the 1970s, or in China today.(143) Population could be stabilized without coercive measures if governments provided contraceptives and family planning services to every woman of child-bearing age. Even if nations could not fully achieve such a goal, stabilization might still be attained if nations: 1) expanded their existing family planning programs, 2) fostered liberal policies of free trade and permitted economic growth to raise world incomes, particularly those in developing countries, so that parents would not need children solely for ensuring their economic survival, and 3) reformed their immigration policies so that people-exporting countries would be forced to deal directly with their internal population problems within their own borders rather than simply exporting their excess humans.

A recent study by the Population Council revealed that "100 million couples who want to delay or stop having children have no means of doing so."(144) With over 100 million births a year worldwide, it can readily be seen that voluntary family planning programs, if made widely available, could achieve population stabilization.(145)

Nevertheless, members of the current generation living in developed countries find it difficult to accept the notion that simply providing contraceptives and family planning services to women of child-bearing age around the world might stabilize the population at present levels. One reason for their rejection of this notion is the false assumption that family planning is and has been generally accepted, and yet the population of the world continues to grow.(146)

In fact, the Catholic Church, which has great influence worldwide, continues to strictly forbid the use of contraceptives of any kind. Members of the younger generation express surprise upon learning that as recently as 1965, in many states of the United States, the very use of a contraceptive, even by a married couple, was a serious felony punishable by incarceration in a high security penitentiary. It was not until 1965 that the U.S. Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut,(147) struck down such laws as unconstitutional. It was not until 1972 that the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law making it a felony for anyone to distribute contraceptive devices to unmarried persons.(148)

Until 1971, the federal Comstock Act not only prohibited the mailing or import of contraception information, but along with murder and treason, described any contraceptive material as "filthy and vile."(149)

The Comstock Act itself has an interesting history. Anthony Comstock authored the Act's language (adopted a century later by the Romanian dictator Ceaucescu) which made it a federal crime to advertise or mail information about "how or by what means conception may be prevented. . . ."(150) Comstock took delight in zealously enforcing the laws against contraception, and according to one historian found sport baiting doctors who dared associate with family planners. In one instance, "[h]e had two women associates write to a Midwestern physician, claiming that their husbands were insane and that they feared that any children might inherit their insanity. When the doctor wrote them some simple advice, Comstock had him arrested and sent to prison for seven years of hard labor."(151)

Had it not been for the pioneering efforts of such women as Margaret Sanger, it might have taken much longer for contraceptives to be accepted and legalized in the United States. Margaret Sanger dedicated her life to the family planning movement after an incident which changed her life. When a young woman, having been advised by a doctor that a pregnancy would endanger her life, asked about the use of a contraceptive device, the doctor rebuked her and told her that her only recourse was to have her husband "sleep on the roof."(152) Sanger later adopted the "sleep on the roof" phrase as the movement's slogan after the young woman died an agonizing death in pregnancy, having apparently ignored the advice to sleep on the roof and give up all intimacy with her husband. Years later, Sanger attributed her resolve to "seek out the root of evil, [and] to do something to change the destiny of women whose miseries were vast as the sky"(153) to the young woman's tragedy.

Despite religious resistance, it is now legal to use contraceptive devices in the United States and most other developed countries. However, legalization is a far cry from active support, promulgation of information, and distribution of contraceptives.

Resistance has been fierce to even the most modest of family planning initiatives. When the International Population Stabilization and Reproductive Health Act was introduced in Congress in 1993, the bill would have spent no more money on family planning programs than is spent on a single B-1 Bomber.(154) Anti-Malthusians zealously opposed the bill. Opponents included not only ignorant Comstockians and Ceaucescuan fanatics, but respected academics and think tanks.

For example, when Jacqueline Kasun published her War On Population in 1988, Tom Bethell of The Hoover Institution at Stanford University praised her work as a "shocking account of the multi-billion dollar movement of the population controllers and their efforts to enforce global population control."(155) A professor of law stated that Kasun's book revealed that "one of the best kept secrets in the world is the evil nature of the population control movement."(156) The author of A Conflict of Visions, said her work "carefully exposes two of the leading frauds of our time--the `overpopulation' hysteria and the false pretense of `sex education.'"(157)

In her book, Kasun decried the modest $238 minion funding for the United States Agency of International Development. While acknowledging that environmental pollution in the United States increased 267% while population increased 40% during the period 1947-1970, she inexplicably attributes the pollution increase not to an increase in population or rise in living standards, but to "shifts away from older, less-polluting technologies."(158)

In less developed countries, where population growth is the greatest, opposition to family planning is often even more fierce. In Gabon, where residents have a life expectancy of forty-nine, the governmental policy is to "increase the growth rate by raising fertility rates."(159) The policies of a country like Gabon are typical.

A family planning clinic in Kisii, Kenya reports little progress on the family planning front. In 1990, precisely two vasectomies were performed. The average woman of Kisii now bears 8.5 children.(160) Mothers have large numbers of children in the hopes that enough win survive disease, poverty, and desperate overcrowding to live to support their parents in old age by scavenging in dump heaps or begging for food.(161)

In short, even the principle of voluntary family planning is not accepted around the world, let alone the practice or funding of the dissemination of information and contraceptives.(162) Part of the reason for this may be that misconceived coercive experiments, such as ones conducted in India in the 1970s, created such a backlash that even totally voluntary programs came into disrepute. In China, coercive programs have caused worldwide revulsion.

As long as there are 100 million unwanted and unplanned births around the world each year, population stabilization can be achieved by the simple expedient of making family planning services available to all women of the world.(163)

C. Immigration

Historically, immigration has been the method of avoiding Malthusian consequences. When a potato famine threatened Ireland in the mid-1800s, thousands of Irish immigrated to America.(164) Today, thousands of people from underdeveloped areas of the globe immigrate, both legally and illegally, to such developed countries as the United States.

Of course, the mere transfer of human beings from one location on the globe to another neither adds to, nor detracts from, the total human population. However, the fact that emigration can serve as an escape valve to avoid population pressures within a country relieves the government of the human-exporting country from the task of making hard choices and adopting policies that address the population problem directly.(165)

For example, as long as a country has the option of simply exporting humans in order to relieve population pressures within its boundaries, it will have no incentive to take on the Church or other groups which resist any kind of population or family planning policy. The export of excess humans, whom the country cannot feed or support, becomes the path of least resistance.

Immigration reform in the developed countries of the world would force human-exporting countries to come to grips with their own population problems, including designing a system of family planning services and providing contraceptives to all of its citizens. Unfortunately, the whole idea of immigration reform is often resisted on purely emotional or political grounds. Like abortion, the history of immigration is often misunderstood.

For example, the liberal immigration policies of the United States can be traced to a labor shortage which occurred after the American Civil War. This shortage caused great alarm among the robber barons and titans of industry, who were concerned that such a labor shortage would give labor increased bargaining power and enable them to demand higher wages and better living conditions.(166) Although millions of African Americans became available to satisfy this work shortage, racial prejudice inhibited the hiring of African Americans. Corporate employers lobbied Congress to import the teeming throngs of white workers from overpopulated Europe.

Not everyone failed to see the racist basis for America's liberal immigration laws. On September 18, 1895, the famed African American educator, Booker T. Washington spoke at the Atlanta International Exposition.(167) He pleaded with American industrialists to stem the tide of cheap foreign labor being imported to substitute for African Americans,(168)

"[T]o those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth ... I would repeat what I say to my own race, [c]ast down your bucket where you are.'"(169) If the industrialists did so, Washington promised that "we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to ... interlac[e] our industrial, commercial, civil and religious life with yours."(170) But the pleas of African Americans were rejected by racist industrialists, and the floodgates of foreign immigrants were opened. A history of American unemployment shows a direct correlation with the numbers of immigrants admitted.

The unemployment rate between 1941 and 1951 was extremely low and fewer than one million people immigrated to the United States. As immigration levels increased to 2.5 million in the 1960s, 4.5 million in the 1970s, and 7.3 million in the 1980s, unemployment rose from 4.6% under Truman, to 4.9% under Kennedy and Eisenhower, 5.8% under Nixon, 6.5% under Carter, and 8.9% under Reagan.(171) Although unemployment rates have moderated in recent years, most of this decline can be attributed to falling wages, free trade, and corporate restructuring.

The racist immigration policies of the United States so feared by Booker T. Washington continue to plague African Americans.(172) For example, in 1987, at a time when the unemployment rate among African American teenagers approached 80%, "the garment workers in Los Angeles were pleading with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to allow them to import workers to meet spot shortages."(173) Similarly, during the 1970s most large office buildings in Los Angeles hired African Americans as janitors, paying nine dollars per hour plus benefits.(174) After hiring independent contractors that employed teeming throngs of white immigrants, however, thousands of African Americans lost their jobs and wages declined precipitously.(175)

A study by Gary Imhoff and Dick Lamm asserted that the benefits of immigration are reaped primarily by the rich, and found that "[i]mmigration widens the differences between classes in the United States; it keeps down the price of hiring a maid or a gardener for the rich while it makes things worse for the poor."(176)

Those who oppose reform often claim that the United States benefits by causing a "brain-drain" of skilled people from third world countries. Business Week recently gloated that "the U.S. is reaping a bonanza of highly educated foreigners."(177) Although the percentage of highly skilled immigrants is small compared to that of unskilled immigrants, the fact that many poor countries have spent scarce funds educating a privileged few who then immigrate to the United States hardly seems an admirable justification for America's lax tax laws.

Other justifications for opposing immigration reform can be truly sickening. Historian Thomas Nichols, for example, argues in his essay America Should Welcome Immigration (178) that "[v]ast sums have ... fallen to emigrants and their descendants by inheritance, for every few days we read in the papers of some poor foreigner becoming the heir of a princely fortune, which in most cases, is added to the wealth of his adopted country."(179)

But the heavy costs of a racist immigration policy are not borne only by the poor and disadvantaged who are struggling to earn a living wage. The middle class also suffers in the form of high taxes for services. In California, Los Angeles County estimates that 23% of its school budget goes to educate recent immigrants.(180) Over 12,500 immigrants flood California, prisons, at a cost of $20,000 each--or a total which may exceed half a billion dollars.(181) Santa Clara County estimates that 40% of its welfare recipients are immigrants.(182)

The San Diego Union & Tribune cited the case of the daughter of a Mexican millionaire who obtained $130,000 in medical payments after crossing the border to obtain care at the San Diego Medical Center.(183) Billions of dollars a year are spent providing immigrants with public assistance and education.(184)

Despite the fact that a 1992 Roper poll revealed that a vast majority of Americans, including African Americans and Hispanics, want stricter immigration laws,(185) powerful interest groups of industrialists fearful of giving labor the power to earn a living wage are resistant to reform.(186) A 1978 poll of Hispanics in Texas revealed that less than 11% of Hispanics favor increasing the number of visas for Mexican immigrants.(187)

Perhaps the most cynical aspect of American immigration laws is that there is only the barest pretense of enforcing them. In the 1980s the number of border agents along the Mexican border was fewer than the number of transit police on New York City's public transportation.(188)

Thus, despite the rising tide of public opinion in favor of reform, there is unlikely to be any real reform as long as the rich and powerful can continue to exploit the misfortunes of the third world's underclass, and as long as countries such as Mexico can relieve their population pressures by exporting excess humans and condoning and even encouraging the exploitation of their citizens by American business interests. Even the legal entry of 800,000 people in 1992 was not enough to satisfy those determined to exploit immigrants; they also wanted to ensure that no effective enforcement methods would disrupt the annual flow of 200,000 illegal immigrants.(189) There is little chance that global population problems around their world will ever be solved as long as countries are permitted to use emigration as a means of deferring Malthusian consequences.

To date, however, few environmental groups have come to recognize the vital link between immigration, population, and the environment. A group calling itself Californians for Population Stabilization has noted that environmental groups such as the Sierra Club are "avoiding immigration out of fear of being labeled racist or xenophobes."(190) Although major environmental groups have failed to come forth publicly in favor of immigration reform, the head of the Sierra Club's population committee has at least acknowledged "that 'there are already too many of us.' Short of wars and plagues, reducing immigration and fertility levels are the only ways of meeting the goal of 'stabilizing or reducing population.'"(191)

The citizens of Kisii must be reminded. There will not always be someplace else to move to.

D. Economic Growth Policies

Economic growth has a significant environmental impact. It is, however, only one of three components of total environmental impact. Holdren has created a model that measures total environmental impact by multiplying population size by per capita consumption by environmental impact per unit of consumption (I = P x C x U).(192) Current environmental policy is directed primarily towards the "U" component, that is, toward reducing the environmental impact of individual units. The mandating of emission controls on automobiles and smokestacks are examples of this policy. Such measures have been ineffective in significantly reducing total environmental impact, because the reduction of one type of pollutant often results in the increase of another type. Furthermore, a modest decline in pollutants released by individual units (such as cars) is more than offset by an explosion in the total number of units.(193)

Some environmentalists have suggested an attack on the second component, "C", per capita consumption of units. A large body of academic opinion has taken a position against economic growth, free trade, and a rise in living standards.(194) Professor Benson, for example, at the 1992 Conference on Free Trade and the Environment in Latin America stated that "the costs of traditional economic growth exceed the benefits and will lead to environmental collapse. Therefore, free trade, which promotes that growth, is a fundamentally misguided public policy."(195)

In other words, it would be better if living standards did not rise; the miserable and poverty-stricken third world residents should do their part for the environment by staying poor and miserable.(196) As Professor Daly has put it, "for all 5.4 billion people presently alive to consume resources and absorptive capacities at the same per capita rate as Americans or Europeans is ecologically impossible."(197)

Vice President Albert Gore adopted a similar view in his book Earth in the Balance, stating that "we cannot continue to use the good of the earth as we have in the past .... [S]ociety is given to ... consumerism while remaining indifferent to the damage which fit] causes."(198) This "environmentalism of the spirit," as the Vice President calls it, has a nice, politically acceptable ring to it, and sounds much like Professor Benson's scholarly version which states that costs of economic growth and a rise in living standards will lead to "environmental collapse."(199)

Nevertheless, the notion that not only Americans, but the world's poorest people should cut back their consumption, is not one I recall being touted during the last presidential campaign. Perhaps this skeptic might be forgiven for doubting the fairness, if not the practicality of an environmental program based on convincing people to reduce their standard of living. A dictator such as Ceaucescu in Romania could adopt such a program--he would simply turn off the light and shut down the heat. Democracies would have a much more difficult time accomplishing a similar result.

Such proposals also fail to recognize that technological innovation spawned by economic growth has been the one human development which has delayed the onset of Malthusian consequences. Without the "Green Revolution" millions more humans would be suffering the Malthusian consequences of starvation and disease. Without technologically advanced pollution-control devices and equipment, the environment would be degrading at an even higher rate than it is presently.

This leaves the third component of Holdren's equation, the "P," representing population. Unfortunately, this is the very component that most environmental groups are unwilling to touch with a ten-foot pole.(200)

But environmental programs focusing on the "U" have proven ineffective, costly, and counter-productive. Notions of "environmentalism of the spirit," based on a lowering of living standards, are unfair and impractical in any society other than a dictatorship. This leaves population control as the key component in any realistic environmental program.

The following questions must be asked of the anti-Malthusians, those who propose a continuation of the failed environmental policies of the past, and those who advocate low living standards and poverty as a cure for environmental degradation. First, what limits do you see for the human population? 8 billion? 40 billion? 100 billion? Second, if you do recognize a finite limit, are you not denying precious life to the 100 billionth plus one potential new human being? Third, once those limits are reached, what measures would you advocate for stabilizing the population at those limits? Fourth, is it better to have 40 billion humans living in misery and squalor, or one billion living a life consistent with minimum standards of human dignity?

Once these questions are answered, a decision can be made as to whether the hypothetical risks of stabilizing population too soon (i.e., foregoing possible advantages of economies of scale and innovation) exceed the very real risks of environmental degradation that results from failure to control the "P" component of Holdren's equation.


Environmental Malthusianism broadens the scope of traditional Malthusianism which focuses on the consequences of starvation and disease. It evaluates the environmental risks of the population explosion, and incorporates issues such as abortion, family planning, immigration, economic growth, and free trade.

A recent book entitled The Hot Zone(201) tells the true story of a virulent and deadly virus which escaped from the rainforest of equatorial Africa via a monkey and found its way to a laboratory in a suburb of Washington, D.C. But for a fortuitous series of events, this virus which ultimately escaped from the laboratory, would not have been contained and could have devastated the United States population.

At the end of the book, the author suggests a thought provoking analogy; just as the human body has antibodies and immunogens which protect against invasion by outside micro-organisms, so does the earth.(202) When the human body's natural defenses are overcome, a particular cell, such as a cancer cell, can reproduce at an exponential rate, ultimately crowding out all the other cells of the body. The deadly ebola virus, AIDS, and others like it may be part of the earth's immune system to check the unbridled growth of a living species that is crowding out all other species which are vital to the maintenance of a balanced eco-system.

Today, the human population of the earth is exploding at such a rate that an entire species is eliminated every day to make room and provide resources for this one rapacious species, the human race. There are only two varieties of living species which are expanding in population today--man and insects. If it comes down to a battle between these two varieties of living entities to populate the world at the expense of all other living species, the smart money will be on the insects. Insects have been on earth for billions of years, and are much more adaptable than human beings to catastrophic natural events. Several weeks after the hydrogen bomb was exploded on Bikini, cautious investigators exploring the island with their protective suits saw roaches emerging from the ruins of the nuclear devastation of the island.

There is only one viable environmental policy: population stabilization.

During the 1992 Presidential campaign, a sign prominently posted in Democratic headquarters reminded all campaign workers what the election was about: "It's the Economy, Stupid." Today, a similar sign should be posted in the offices of every environmental group: "It's the Population, Stupid."

(1) Charles Mann, How Many Is Too Many?, Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1993, at 47.

(2) Id.; see also Carol J. De Vita & Kelvin M. Pollard, Increasing Diversity of the U.S. Population, Stat. Bull.-Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. 12 (July 1996). In the United States, in 1995, the population was 262.8 million people. Id. Population growth is about 2.7 million people annually. Id. The current rate of growth is 1% annually and is projected to slow. However by the year 2050 the population of the United States is expected to be 394 million. Id.

(3) See Robert W. Kates, Editorial, Food for Thought, Env't, Mar. 1997. Current estimates place the world population at 5.8 billion people. The United Nations latest revision of world population growth estimates a global population of 9.4 billion people by the year 2050, which is almost a half a billion lower than previously estimated two years prior. Id. Regardless, 3.6 billion additional people, in a little over 50 years, will need food, housing, and education. It has been argued that when population increases the resources necessary to support a larger population do not increase proportionally but geometrically. When a population doubles, it is estimated that the agricultural production might have to quadruple, energy production to sextuple, and the economy to octuple. This is called the 24-6-8 scenario. Id.

However, there are other ways to reduce the impact of an increasing population on the planet's resources. Adherence to a medically recommended diet will reduce the levels of waste and require lower food production per capita while still providing an adequate diet. Lowering the level of food consumption per capita will naturally lessen the burden on agriculture and the inherent burdens that chemical fertilizers place on the environment while continuing to provide sufficient food and meet the dietary preferences of the populous. Id.

(4) World Resources Institute, World Resources 1994-1995, at 29 (1994) (hereinafter World Resources 1994-1995].

(5) Id.

(6) Id.

(7) Daniel Chiras, Environmental Science: Action for a Sustainable Future 4 (1991).

(8) See Lester R. Brown, Facing Food Insecurity, in State of the World 1994, at 177 (Linda Starke ed., 1994). The dramatic growth in the world fish catch between 1950 and 1984 doubled the seafood catch per person. Id. at 179. This growth greatly enhanced the world food supply and diminished hunger and malnutrition world-wide. However, there has been a dramatic drop and even a reversal in recent years and the supply of fish can no longer fill the void of land-based agriculture. Id. at 177. Furthermore, there is a growing insecurity among the grain producing nations. Grain production per person is the proxy for progress. Id. Because human demands are approaching the limits of the oceanic fisheries, rangeland support of livestock, and, in many countries, the supply of fresh water, the world must now depend on agricultural technology and reduced population growth to manage the basic food requirements of the world population.

(9) Donella H. Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind (1972).

(10) Donella H. Meadows & Dennis L. Meadows, Beyond the Limits (1992).

(11) See Economy, Environment, and Technology (Beat Burgenmeier ed., 1994) [hereinafter Economy, Environment]. There are technological optimists and technological pessimists. Technological optimists believe that technological improvements will solve all the world's problems and eliminate the scarcity of natural resources. Conversely, technological pessimists believe that no amount of technological advancement can overcome the realities of finite natural resources or fundamental energy constraints. If the pessimists are correct then following a policy favored by the technological optimists may be disastrous. However, following a policy favored by the pessimists can be tolerable even if the pessimist are correct. Why? Because the pessimistic model plans for failure or limited technological advancement, while the optimistic model plans only for success. Like Malthus, the technological pessimists plan conservatively favoring an anticipatory policy that may be reversed without adverse consequences. A change in policy may take advantage of future information, whereas the optimists are unable to take advantage of future information without negative effects.

(12) See Julian L. Simon, Why Do We Still Think Babies Create Poverty?, Wash. Post, Oct. 13, 1985, at B1 (challenging the theory that population growth is the cause of poverty) [hereinafter Babies Create Poverty]; Simon Kuznets, Population, Capital and Growth (1973) (exploring the relationship between population and economic growth).

(13) See Babies Create Poverty, supra note 12; Kuznets, supra note 12, at 3.

(14) Ester Boserup, Population and Technological Change 65 (1981).

(15) Id. at 51.

(16) Massimo Livi-Bacci, A Concise History of World Population 97 (1989).

(17) Boserup, supra note 14, at 102.

(18) William Petty, Another Essay in Political Arithmetic, in The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty 437 (C.H. Hull ed., 1963), cited in Julian L. Simon, Theory of Population and Economic Growth (1986).

(19) Livi-Bacci, supra note 16, at 95.

(20) Petty, supra note 18, at 16 (emphasis in the original).

(21) Livi-Bacci, supra note 16, at 95 (citing Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations 5 (1964)).

(22) Jacqueline Kasun, The War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of Population Control (1988).

(23) Id. at 48. But see Paula Abrams, Reservations About Women: Population Policy and Reproductive Rights, 29 Cornell Int'l L.J. 1 (1996) (showing a contrary conclusion to Kasun). Numerous international studies show that as per capita income rises, the birth rate declines. The World Population Plan of Action does recognize a correlation between population and economic development. Id. at 10.

(24) Kasun, supra note 22, at 50; see World Resources 1994-1995, supra note 4, at 31-32 (stating that the underlying basis for economic growth is human capital). Human capital productivity is a result of an investment in education and health. This investment provides people with options, raises work productivity, and changes personal behaviors. Investment in health increases life expectancy which also increases productivity. Id. at 31. Educational opportunities also increase productivity and the potential for an increase in the standard of living. This is most apparent when the educational opportunities are granted to the women of a society through statistical correlation between the education level of women in a society and the fertility rate. Increasing the educational opportunities for women improves job opportunities and increases the incentive for smaller families. Additionally, women with a higher level of education tend to delay marriage and childbearing. Id. at 32.

(25) Paul R. Ehrlich & Anne H. Ehrlich, The Population Explosion 19 (1990). 26 Joseph A. Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis 251 (1954).

(27) Id.

(28) Livi-Bacci, supra note 16, at 75.

(29) Ehrlich & Ehrlich, supra note 25, at 19; see Brown, supra note 8, at 179 (discussing overpopulation and food production trends). During the last forty years the production of animal protein, specifically beef and mutton, increased dramatically, almost tripling. Id. However, this increasing level of production is not sustainable and may even decline as an increasing population base puts increased pressures on the use of land for the very production of the animal protein that has been the supporting food base for the growing population. Id.; see also Ehrlich & Ehrlich, supra note 25, at 27-28, 71, 73-74. Protein production during this same period has been expanded with dramatic increases from the worldwide production of fish. Brown, supra note 8, at 179. However, the world fisheries are also at a maximum carrying capacity and are suffering from the pressure that the increasing population has put on the health of the waters from which the fish are harvested. Id. Future expansion of the supply of beef, mutton, and fish is dependent upon the expansion of confining beef and mutton to feedlots, and breeding fish in stock ponds. The food necessary to sustain these feedlots and stock ponds must come from an increase in grain production. Although grain production increased during this same forty year period, it has shown signs of slowing in recent years. Id. This constraint on the growth of grain production is due in part to the strain on the carrying capacity of the arable land. See id. at 178-79; see also Ehrlich & Ehrlich, supra note 25, at 27-28, 71, 73-74.

(30) Ehrlich & Ehrlich supra note 25, at 20, 68.

(31) Id. at 19.

(32) Id. at 39.

(33) Robert M. Hardaway, Population, Law, and the Environment (1994) [hereinafter Population, Law, and the Environment].

(34) Kasun, supra note 22, at 49, Chart 2-1.

(35) Population, Law, and the Environment, supra note 33, at 149.

(36) See Virginia Abernethy, Optimism and Overpopulation, Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 1994, at 84 (proffering the idea that traditionally population is a result of local conditions). These conditions are generally tied to the economic realities of the locality. Id. at 85. While the locality may not be able to support the current population, the fact that the local economic output is unable to support the population is not determinative of the ultimate control that the economic reality exerts on the populace. The overpopulation may be merely a result of unrealized expectation of the people of the region who reacted to the prospect of increased economic benefits, yet unrealized or dissipated through slower than expected economic growth, unforeseen natural disasters, war, disease, or famine. Id. at 86. The fact that the population is greater than the ability of the locality to support such population is of temporary concern. The overpopulation problem of the locality will ultimately be adjusted by the inhabitants through the realization that they are unable to support the current population. Id. at 88, 91. Family size will be diminished through lower birth rates and the delaying of marriage, resulting in decreased population growth. Id. at 90-91. Generally, the reduction in the fertility rate will not occur until long after the realization that the local economy cannot support the current population.

Both Kasun and Abernethy seem to believe that there is no real population problem worth addressing. Kasun proffers that the world can provide for many times the number of people than now exist and without a loss of quality of life. See Kasun, supra note 22, at 27, 33-38. Abernethy believes that people will inevitably solve their own overpopulation problems as they become apparent, allowing for some lag time between awareness and action. Abernethy, supra, at 91. Both believe that governments should not interfere with individual rights by placing population controls or seeking to control the population. They believe that in some form or fashion people will find solutions to controlling the population themselves. According to these authors, governments should exercise a laissez-faire policy to population control, regardless of any economic, social, or political realities.

(37) See Lester Brown & Robert S. Chen, Growing More Food, Doing Less Damage, Env't, Mar. 1997, at 34 (commenting on Mark W. Rosegrant & Robert Livernash, Growing More Food, Doing Less Damage, Env't, Sept. 1996).

While it is true that in the four decades from 1950 to 1990 the

oceanic fish catch increased nearly fourfold and the world grain

harvest nearly tripled, it is also a fact that over the past six

years the oceanic catch has not grown at all and the growth of

the grain harvest has suffered a dramatic loss of momentum.

Id. In 1996, the worldwide stock of grain inventory dropped to fifty days of worldwide consumption, which is the lowest level on record. Id. Marine biologists are reporting that all the oceanic fisheries are either being fished at capacity or are being over fished. Id. The consequence of worldwide over-fishing will inevitably be felt by the farmers of the world who can no longer expect the world food production to be subsidized by fishermen. Id. Increased food production is now the sole responsibility of the world's farmers. Adding to the problem is the fact that worldwide grain production peaked in 1981. Id. A major reason for the stagnation in worldwide grain production is the conversion of otherwise suitable farmland to nonfarming uses and the increased consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and oil-bearing crops such as soybeans. Id.

(38) While this may seem preposterous, it should be noted that with the earth's population now doubling every few decades, it will not take many more future doublings for the population to reach astronomical proportions. Recall the legend of the inventor of the game of chess who as a reward from his Indian prince asked for as many bushels of grain as would equal the number of grains of sand after placing one grain on the first square of a chessboard, and then doubling the grains on each square up to thirty-two. He was executed when the final sum was revealed. Or take one of Donella Meadows' hypothetical models that say if one took an ordinary sheet of paper and doubled its thickness by folding it over, and then somehow repeated the folding forty-two times, the thickness of the paper would reach from the earth to the moon. Meadows & Meadows, supra note 10, at 15.

(39) See Paul Ekins, Sustainable Development and the Economic Growth Debate, reprinted in Economy, Environment, supra note 11, at 121 (asserting that the Malthusian debate has become the debate over sustainability). There are three questions which must be answered before the debate over sustainability reaches any conclusions. First, will the current and future increases of human economic activity have a global impact that will reduce future economic possibilities? Second, will this increase produce negative environmental effects that actually outweigh the benefits of current economic affluence in industrial countries? Third, in market economies, will the intense competition for economic success also undermine the cultural and moral fabric of the society on which the economy depends? Id. at 133.

(40) See Brown & Chen, supra note 37, at 34. The efforts to expand the production of food are being limited by the scarcity of water. Irrigation increased dramatically from 1960 to 1990, almost tripling in amount. However, water tables are falling in most of the food producing areas of the world, reducing the opportunity for expansion of irrigation and even endangering the existing irrigation systems. Urban areas around the world are diverting water, which would otherwise be available for irrigation, for non-food-producing purposes. In Texas the irrigation of farm land has shrunk some 14% since 1980. Id.

(41) Dana Milbank, Despite Appeal, Saving the Earth Lacks Donors, Wall St. J., July 11, 1990, at B-1.

(42) National Wildlife Federation, 1996 Conservation Directory (Rue E. Gordon ed., 1996).

(43) Id. at 160.

(44) See Peter Huck, War on the Range, Guardian, Nov. 22, 1995, at T006, available in LEXIS, UK Library, Guardian File. The traditional backlash movement has expanded to "normal" citizens who openly defy government agents of the Forest Service while trying to open an unauthorized road through the Toiyabe National Forest.

(45) Population, Law, and the: Environment, supra note 33, at 65.

(46) Id. at 74-76.

(47) Dan Baum, Wise Guise, Seirra, May/June 1991, at 71, 72.

(48) See Huck, supra note 44, at T006. Ron Arnold and Alan Gottleib created the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. Ron Arnold defected from the Sierra Club, an act which is of special loathing by U.S. conservationists. While some anti-environmental groups adopt names that spell out their intended mission of destroying the environmental revolution, other groups have devised a more savvy way to attract members from the mainstream population and can move about in the Washington lobbying circles more easily. One such strategy is to adopt environmentally friendly appearing names such as the National Wetlands Coalition or the Environmental Conservation Organization. All this is designed to confuse the opposition and attract more members, support, and money.

(49) Timothy Egan, Fund-Raisers Tap Anti-Environmentalism, N.Y. Times, Dec. 19, 1991, at A18.

(50) Id.

(51) Id.

(52) Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), cited in Doug Bandow, Ecoteur's Credo: To Save the Trees, Cut Down People, Wall St. J., June 20, 1990, at A14.

(53) Bandow, supra note 52, at A14.

(54) Mark Taylor, Anti-Hunters Urged to Kill Cattle, Tulsa Trib., June 3, 1991, at 6B, available in 1991 WL 5113730.

(55) Id.

(56) Bill McCann, A Helping Hand for Wildlife, Austin Am.-Statesman, Feb. 5, 1989, at D1, available in 1989 WL 2780345.

(57) Ralph K. M. Haurwitz, A `New Chapter' Begins For Species, Developers, Austin Am.-Statesman, May 3, 1996, at A1, available in 1996 WL 3427782.

(58) Tom Wolf, The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Movement, American Style, L.A. Times, Mar. 24, 1991, at M6.

(59) Rose Gutfield, Shades of Green: Eight of Ten Americans Are Environmentalists, At Least So They Say, Wall St. J., Aug. 21, 1991, at Al.

(60) Population, Law, and the Environment, supra note 33, at 43.

(61) Donavan Webster, Sweet Home Arkansas, UTNE Reader, July/Aug. 1992, at 112-16.

(62) Id. at 116.

(63) Id.

(64) Under EPA standards, some waste is permitted to be returned to the atmosphere. The effects of the discharge of small or even infinitesimal amounts of deadly toxins are a matter of some debate. Id. at 114.

(65) Id. at 116.

(66) Id.

(67) Shirley Perlman, Remember?, Newsday, Mar. 23, 1997, at E08, available in 1997 WL 2687993.

(68) Porcher Taylor, Radioactive Politics Sealed in Waste Deal, Wash. Post, Aug. 13, 1997, at A15.

(69) Robert M. Hardaway, Two Forks Fight Was a Clash with Population, Not the Environment, Denver Post, Jan. 19, 1991, at B7.

(70) Population, Law, and the Environment, supra note 33, at 161.

(71) 437 U.S. 153 (1978).

(72) Population, Law, and the: Environment, supra note 33, at 39 n.12.

(73) TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978).

(74) Population, Law, and the Environment, supra note 33, at 53 n.87.

(75) Id. at 53 n.84.

(76) The Tellico Dam project was finally completed and the Little Tennessee River was subsequently impounded creating Tellico Lake. The Snail Darter, as it turned out, was not really an endangered species but merely a threatened species because the small fish also inhabited another stream bed some sixty miles downstream from the proposed Tellico Dam. Jay Horning, Snail Darter Makes Comeback, Lives in Peace with Tennessee Dam, St. Petersburg Times, May 6, 1990, at 15A, available in LEXIS, BUSFIN Library, STPETE File. In 1982, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Snail Darter from the endangered species list and the basis for the suit in TVA v. Hill no longer existed, which allowed the Tennessee Valley Authority to close the flood gates on the completed darn and flood the Tellico Valley. Id. Subsequently, a once remote region of Tennessee became a unique recreation area, and its close proximity to Knoxville, Tennessee, the population and financial hub of East Tennessee, provided the stimulus for the development of numerous boating and recreational facilities, subdivisions, and industrial parks.

(77) The dissent in TVA v. Hill, led by Justices Blackmun and Powell, quoted the statement of the Attorney General in support of its argument that the Act was not meant to apply to projects that had already been built: "the dam is completed; all that remains is to close the gate ... the dam itself is finished. All the landscaping has been done." 437 U.S. at 153 n.1 (Blackmun, J., & Powell, J., dissenting).

(78) Id. at 172.

(79) Kates, supra note 3.

(80) Jesse H. Ausubel, The Liberation of the Environment, Daedalus, June 1, 1996, available in 1996 WL 9067730.

(81) World Resources Institute, World Resources 1992-93, at 328-29 (1992) [hereinafter World Resources 1992-93] (stating figure based on world consumption per capita).

(82) Id. at 316-17, tbl. 22.1 (basing the cited figure on world consumption per capita).

(83) Robert Hardaway, Purchase Rainforest Development Rights to See Truly Beautiful Foreign Aid Effort, Denver Bus. J., May 16, 1997, available in 1997 WL 11064365. But see Chris Lankhorst, Saving the Rainforest, The Press Democrat, July 8, 1997, available in 1997 WL 3440267 (noting that the rate of tropical rainforest deforestation is between 28 and 35 acres every minute).

(84) Cf. Brown & Chen, supra note 37, at 34 (assuming traditional fertilizer utilization is maintained, however, such may not always be the case). From 1950 to 1989 fertilizer use increased tenfold. Since 1989 many countries have realized the inefficiency of overfertilization and for certain crops fertilization has declined without reducing production. Id.

(85) G. Tyler Miller, Living in the Environment 15 (1st ed. 1975).

(86) World Resources 1992-93, supra note 81, at 176.

(87) Id. at 348 tbl. 24.2.

(88) Id. at 351 tbl. 24.6.

(89) Id. at 338 tbl. 23.2.

(90) See Lester R. Brown et al., Vital Signs 124 (1996). Twelve percent of all animal species which include 41% of all recognized fish species live in 1% of the earth's fresh water area. Id. In recent years at least one-fifth of the fresh water fish species have become extinct, endangered, or threatened. Id. These high levels of extinction and endangerment are recent developments and not a continuation of any natural progression of evolutionary processes. Id. Fresh water fish are affected primarily because many fish require various types of habitats during the different stages of their life. Habitat destruction may occur in a variety of ways. One example is the construction of dams which interfere with the movement of nutrients or species between habitats, having serious implications for the survival of many species.

(91) See Brown & Chen, supra note 37, at 34. The United States accounts for more than half of the world's grain exports. This is a clear indication that the world has become dependant upon the United States for grain which is subject to the weather fluctuations in the continental United States. Such dependance is greater than the world's dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia. With the U.S. population on the rise, and with little new land for grain production within the United States, the world may not depend on any huge increases in production of grain from the United States. Nothing is more supportive of the looming era of food scarcity.

(92) Nafis Sadik, The State of World Population: Choices for the New Century 11 (1990); see also One Billion People on the Way in the '90s, L.A. Times, Feb. 22, 1990, at A10.

(93) Vital Signs, supra note 90, at 64.

(94) Plato noted that

[Attica was] once covered in rich soil, and there was abundant timber on

the mountains, of which traces may still be seen. Some of our mountains

at present will only support bees. But not so very long ago trees fit for

the roofs of vast buildings were felled there, and the rafters are still

in existence. There were also many other lofty cultivated trees which

provided unlimited fodder for beasts.

The soil got the benefit of the yearly `water of Zeus.' This was not lost,

as it is today, by running off a barren ground to the sea. A plentiful

supply was received into the soil and stored up in the layers of clay....

By comparison with the original territory, what is left now is like the

skeleton of a body wasted by disease. The rich, soft soil has been carried

off. Only the bare framework of the district is left.

Plato, Critias, in Plato, Collected Dialogues 111b-d (A.E. Taylor trans., 1963), quoted in Paul Harrison, The Third Revolution 115 (1992).

(95) Charles Mann, How Many Is Too Many?, Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1993, at 47, 56.

(96) Id. at 59.

(97) Id.

(98) World Resources 1992-93, supra note 81, at 351 tbl. 24.5.

(99) Paul Harrison, The Third Revolution 202 (1992).

(100) Id.

(101) Id. at 303.

(102) Julian Ozanne, Kenya Fights Its Baby Boom, Fin. Times, reprinted in World Press Rev., July 1990, at 67.

(103) Miller, supra note 85, at 318.

(104) See generally Robert E. Yuhnke, Me Amendments to Reform Transportation Planning in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, 5 Tul. Envtl. L. J. 239, 253 (1991) (showing that emissions reductions obtained through legislation are offset by increases in single-occupant vehicle use).

(105) Miller, supra note 85, at E133.

(106) Id.

(107) Id.

(108) Id.

(109) See Vital SIGNS, supra note 90, at 56. In 1995 the worldwide use of wind power to produce electricity was up 33%. Id. However, this figure is deceptive. Power output by wind power in North America has not grown since 1991. Id. European countries, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Spain along with India have contributed to the recent worldwide growth in wind power for the production of energy. This growth is due mainly to government support for the production of energy by wind power by mandating generous prices for electricity "feed ins" to the central utility systems. Id. Actually, in the United States, wind power is struggling. Output has remained stagnated since the early 90s and in fact in 1995, 58 megawatts of older generators were torn down in California and not replaced. Id. The country's output would have suffered greatly if it were not for the new construction in 1995 in Texas of 50 megawatts. Id. The success in Europe is credited with government support plus a decentralization of wind turbines placing just a few units widespread in many communities as opposed to the "wind farms" approach in the United States. Id. The Europeans claim that this decentralized approach promotes greater support throughout the populous for the production of energy from the wind. This support is essential to contain the natural animosity for the wind turbines from the traditional fossil burning energy industry.

(110) Maria Goodavage, Battling `Safe' Windmills: Bird Deaths in Turbines Spur Outcry, USA Today, May 27, 1993, at 3A, available in 1993 WL 6709958USA-TD Database.

(111) Id.

(112) Id.

(113) Id.

(114) Id.

(115) See Michael Hornsby, Green Energy Campaigners See Red Over Wind Farm, Times (London), May 20, 1997, at 15. While electric power generation from wind turbines is gaining popularity in Great Britain in the mid-90s, so is the opposition to the placement of the turbines. In England, certain unspoiled countryside landscapes engender a strong sense of passion for their continued visual beauty and solitude. With the introduction of a plan for the largest wind turbine farm in Europe on Britain's last great stretches of wild landscape, five leading countryside groups have joined forces to call for tougher controls on the location of wind farms. Conservationists proffer that the wind farms pose a growing threat to scenic countryside by a technology that will only contribute minimally to the production of cleaner energy.

(116) Harrison, supra note 99, at 244.

(117) See generally Andrea Baranzini & Gonzague Pillet, The Physical and Biological Environment--The Socioeconomy of Sustainable Development, reprinted in Economy, Environment, supra note 11, at 139-62. Survivability imposes three different constraints: natural resources essential to production and human life, a maximum level of pollution, and consumption higher than a subsistence level. Natural resources in the environment possesses some natural rate of growth but such growth may be slowed or reversed by the extraction of natural resources and the burden of pollution on the system. The environment possess some capacity to assimilate pollution. The extent of this assimilation depends on the already existing pollution, the effort the economy makes to clean up the environment, and the effect that nonbiodegradable wastes have upon entering the system. Because of the enormous scientific uncertainties about the links between the economic system and the biosphere, precise physical measures indicating the maximum scale of the economy which the biosphere can support are difficult to define.

(118) Population, Law, and the Environment, supra note 33, at 79.

(119) See Peter Eisner, Earth Summit '92 Population Control Advocates Angered, Newsday, June 4, 1992, at 17.

(120) Rose Gutfeld, Eight of 10 Americans Are Environmentalists, At Least So They Say, Wall St. J., Aug. 2, 1991, at A1.

(121) See supra text accompanying note 102.

(122) See Sandra Postel, Carrying Capacity: Earth's Bottom Line, in Law, Values, and the Environment 167 (Robert N. Wells, Jr. ed., 1996). "Carrying capacity" is a term applied by biologists to the earth's ability to support the largest number of any given species. Id. at 168. When the maximum level is surpassed, the resource base upon which that species depends begins to diminish and so does the species dependent on the resource. Carrying capacity as it applies to the human race on the planet earth not only refers to our basic needs of food, water, and shelter, but to the output of waste and its effect on the resource base. Id. An example of the waste output effect on the resource base's ability to sustain the human species is the depletion of the ozone layer and the effect on global warming. The earth's environmental assets are insufficient to sustain the current pace of the growth in demand for the limited resource base by the human race. Id. If current trends are maintained (i.e. population growth, waste output, availability of rangeland and fisheries), by the year 2010 per capita availability of land available for the production of meat will be reduced by 22% and the number of fish caught will diminish by 10%. Id. Irrigable land will shrink by 12%, cropland by 21%, and forestland by 30%. Id.

(123) Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 116 (1973).

(124) Abortion Rate in U.S. High, Miami Herald, June 3, 1988, at 14A.

(125) Karen Breslau, Overplanned Parenthood: Ceaucescu's Cruel Law, Newsweek, Jan. 22, 1990, at 35.

(126) M. Peter McPherson, Address on International Family Planning, Dept. St. Bull., Mar. 1986, at 43.

(127) Id.

(128) From Abortion to Reproductive Freedom: Transforming a Movement 129 (Marlene Gerber Fried ed., 1990).

(129) John T. Noonan, Jr., An Almost Absolute Value in History, in The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives 1, 23 (John T. Noonan, Jr. ed., 1970).

(130) Id. (quoting In Octo Libros Politicorum 7.12 (n.p. n.d.)).

(131) 410 U.S. 113, 131-33 (1973) (discussing when the soul is animated or viable).

(132) Noonan, supra note 129, at 27 (citing H. Hurter, Nomenclator Literarius Theologiae Catholicae 3.344-.347 (1906)).

(133) Id. at 27 n.95, (citing Navarrus, Consilia 5.22, in 4 Opera (1951)).

(134) Id. at 33 n. 11, (citing I Effraenatam, Codicis Iuris Fontes 308 (P. Gasparri ed., 1927)).

(135) Id. at 33 n.112, (citing I Sedes Apostolica, Codicis Iuris Fontes 330-31).

(136) Martin E. Marty, A Short History of American Catholicism 213-14 (1995).

(137) Jodi L. Jacobson, Abortion in a New Light, in World-Watch Reader on Global Environmental Issues 284, 287 (Lester R. Brown ed., 1991).

(138) Ilene Barth, How America Stops Abortion-In Other Countries, Newsday, June 4, 1989, at 8, available in 1989 WL 3382450.

(139) Id.

(140) Breslau, supra note 125, at 85.

(141) Id.

(142) Id.

(143) World Resources 1994-95, supra note 4, at 62, 87. India instituted a national policy for population control beginning in 1951. During the 1970s, India's program, which had fallen short of its original goals, changed and employed a forced sterilization plan. The new plan eroded public support for the national plan and it was subsequently abandoned for less restrictive methods of education and voluntary compliance. Id. at 87. China started their population control efforts in the 1960s. The original plan centered around China's agricultural cooperatives, with more than one million trained paramedics traveling the countryside and local clinics providing free contraceptive services. The program changed substantially in the 1980s when the agriculture cooperatives were discontinued. The government began to promote the one-child family, providing financial incentives to those who complied. Minority populations were exempted from the government regulations. While the one-child per family campaign is still strictly enforced in the urban areas, it is less popular in rural areas because the shift to private farming created a need for more labor to run the family farms. Id. at 62.

(144) George D. Moffett, III, Fertility Rates Decline in Third-World Nations, Christian Sci. Monitor, July 8, 1992, at 10.

(145) Id.

(146) Cf. Meredith Marshall, United Nations Conference on Population and Development: The Road to a New Reality for Reproductive Health, 10 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 441 (1996). In 1994 the International Conference on Population and Development was held in Cairo, Egypt. Id. at 441. Delegates at the Cairo Conference shifted their traditional emphasis from quantitative to qualitative goals. Conference planners focused on access to education and information so that women worldwide may take a more active part in making decisions about contraception. Id. at 443. The delegates recognized that population growth can be stabilized and development enhanced by the advancement of women through education and access to reproductive choice. Id. at 443-44. This recognition represents a departure from the long standing single-minded position of the conference, which attempted to reduce population simply by increasing contraceptive measures.

(147) 381 U.S. 479 (1965) (holding a law forbidding the use of contraceptives as unconstitutional).

(148) Population, Law, and the Environment. supra note 33, at 95.

(149) 18 U.S.C. [sections] 1461 (1964) (repealed 1971); 18 U.S.C. [sections] 552 (1964) (repealed 1971).

(150) 18 U.S.C. [sections] 1461 (1964) (repealed 1971).

(151) Lawrence Lader & Milton Meltzer, Margaret Sanger: Pioneer of Birth Control 44 (1969).

(152) Margaret Sanger, Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography 89 (1971).

(153) Id. at 92.

(154) Robert S. Stein, Policies, Not People, Cause Poverty, Some Argue, Investors Bus. Daily, July 7, 1993, at A1, A2.

(155) Kasun, supra note 22, at back cover.

(156) Id.

(157) Id.

(158) Id. at 43.

(159) United Nations, 2 World Population Policies 3, U.N. Sales No. E.89.XIII.3 (1989).

(160) Ozanne, supra note 102, at 67.

(161) Id.

(162) See generally Meredith Marshall, United Nations Conference On Population and Development: The Road to a New Reality for Reproductive Health, 10 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 441 (1996). A survey suggests that 120 million women worldwide would use birth control if accurate and affordable devices were available. Id. at 456. Additionally, the report concludes that for these women to use an available method of birth control, support from their husbands and community would be essential. Id. In developed countries contraception is used by approximately 71% of the population. Id. at 455-56. By contrast, in Africa only 17% use contraception. Id. Generally, worldwide statistics show that where women are denied access to contraceptive devices, the use of abortion as contraception is borne out by the abortion statistics in that country. Id. at 456.

(163) See id. In developing countries male contraceptive methods are used by only 26% of those using contraception. These methods include vasectomies, condoms, or withdrawal and the rhythm method. Id. at 456. Though male sterilization is much less expensive, less complicated, and generally safer, women are sterilized three times as often as men. Id. at 456. In underdeveloped countries condoms represent only 6% of contraceptive use. Id. Women bear the ultimate responsibility for pregnancy worldwide which in large part accounts for the fifty million abortions, some twenty million of these are done illegally or are self-induced. Id. at 457. In the U.S. legal abortions result in one death per 100,000. Id. at 458. In parts of Africa, 1000 deaths result for every 100,000 abortions. Id. These statistics indicate that in developing countries a significant number of lives could be saved through the use of more modem sanitary facilities and through the cooperation and education of both men and women in the use and availability of methods of contraceptives.

(164) Carl Wittke, Immigration Policy Prior to World War I, in Immigration: An American Dilemma 1, 3 (Benjamin Munn Ziegler ed., 1953).

(165) See Garrett Davis, America Should Discourage Immigration, reprinted in Immigration: Opposing Viewpoints 25, 27 (William Dudley ed., 1990). Garrett Davis, writing in 1849, saw a direct relationship between the expansion of the European population and emigration policies. In 1843 the aggregate population of Germany and Ireland was rising by 2 million people annually. Id. With many in a state of destitution, European governments organized extensive programs designed to transport to America their excess population, and particularly the refuse, the pauper, the demoralized, and the criminal. Id.

(166) Cf. De Vita & Pollard, supra note 2, at 12 (contrasting recent immigration statistics with historical statistics). Until the mid-1960s, most immigrants to the United States were white Europeans. Id. at 16. However, today only one in five immigrants are white Europeans. Id. Asians, Latin Americans, and people from the Caribbean comprise three-quarters of current immigrants. Id.

(167) Booker T. Washington, The Atlanta Exposition Address, in Booker T. Washington and his Critics 17, 19 (Hugh Hawkins ed., 1974).

(168) Id. at 24-27.

(169) Id. at 26.

(170) Id. at 25.

(171) Richard D. Lamm & Gary Imhoff, The Immigration Time Bomb 62-63 (1985).

(172) Vlae Kershner, Calculating the Cost of Immigration/It Saps State Funds, but Helps Farms, Business, San Francisco Chron., June 23, 1993, at Al, available in 1993 WL 10475013.

(173) Id.

(174) Id.

(175) Id.

(176) Lamm & Imhoff, supra note 171, at 156.

(177) Michael J. Mandel et al., The Immigrants: How They're Helping to Revitalize the U.S. Economy, Bus. WK., July 13, 1992, at 114.

(178) Thomas L. Nichols, America Should Welcome Immigration, reprinted in Immigration: Opposing Viewpoints 17 (William Dudley ed., 1990).

(179) Id. at 20.

(180) Kershner, supra note 172, at Al.

(181) Id.

(182) Id.

(183) Rex Dalton, Medi-Cal Probe Is Netting $130,000, Rich Mexicans Will Pay for UCSD Care, San Diego Union & Trib., Dec. 31, 1993, at Al, available in 1993 WL 11774539.

(184) Robert J. Caldwell, Initiatives Have Become a Tedious Proposition, San Diego Union & Trib., Nov. 6, 1994, at G1, available in 1994 WL 6023999.

(185) Kershner, supra note 172, at AT

(186) Lamm & Imhoff, supra note 171, at 199.

(187) Id. at 204.

(188) Id. at 206.

(189) See generally Lamm & Imhoff, supra note 171, at 206.

(190) Kershner, supra note 172, at Al.

(191) Id. (quoting Frank Orem, Head of Sierra Club's National Population Committee).

(192) G. Tyler Miller, Living in the Environment: Concepts, Problems, and Alternatives 328 (1975).

(193) Yuhnke, supra note 104, at 240.

(194) Robert W. Benson, The Threat of Trade, the Failure of Policies and Law, and the Need for Direct Citizen Action in the Global Environmental Crisis, 15 Loy. L.A. Int'l Comp. L.J. 1, 7 (1992).

(195) Id.

(196) See Sharon L. Camp, Population, Poverty, and Pollution, in 6 Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, Summer 1991, at 5-17 (discussing the acceleration in world population and the decline in food production).

(197) Herman E. Daly, From Adjustment to Sustainable Development: The Obstacle of Free Trade, 15 Loy. L.A. Int'l Comp. U. 33, 38 (1992).

(198) Albert Gore, Earth in the Balance 262-63 (1993).

(199) Benson, supra note 194, at 7; see also Sandra Postel, Carrying Capacity: Earth's Bottom Line, Challenge, Mar.-Apr. 1994, at 4, 12. The world's ability to support the existing population is determined not just from the amount of food necessary for support, but also by the levels of consumption of other resources as well. The level of waste generated by the population has an effect on the ability of the earth to reprocess the waste without affecting the production of the resources necessary for consumption. Id. at 4. The real hazard comes when the level of consumption outstrips the level necessary to maintain sustainable supply of resources. This threshold level is the "carrying capacity" of the earth. In order to exceed this carrying capacity there must be either a technological advance, or a change in the level of consumption. Id. at 4-5. The days of the "frontier economy" in which abundant resources propel the economic growth are over. I'd. at 5. Living standards may only be maintained or raised only if resources are used more efficiently.

(200) See Brown & Chen, supra note 37, at 34. For instance, China must feed 22% of the world's population with only 7% of the world's arable land. Current statistics show that only a third of the land in China produces high yields. The population in China increases by 13 million every year, and the availability of employment for the increasing population poses a serious threat to the economy which must be strong enough to support continuing technological advances to increase the production of food. Id. at 37.

(201) Richard Preston, The Hot Zone (1994).

(202) Id. at 289.

Robert M. Hardaway, Professor of Law, University of Denver College of Law; J.D., New York University Law School, Order of Coif; B.A., Amherst College. Professor Hardaway is the author of seven books and treaties on law and public policy and numerous law review articles. He also is a regular contributor of opinion articles to national newspapers. Portions of this Article have been extracted or summarized from Professor Hardaway's book, Population, Law, and the Environment (1994).
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Title Annotation:Symposium on Population Law
Author:Hardaway, Robert M.
Publication:Environmental Law
Date:Dec 22, 1997
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