A Modest Proposal for Saving the Planet

Unless you’re from Oklahoma, a state whose citizens managed to elect (and re-elect) Senator James Inhofe, protector of oil concerns and denier of global warming — which, in a statement that brought relief to the world’s great religions, he deemed the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon the American people” — you probably understand that we’re killing our planet and most of the things that live on it. 

And if somehow you’re still confused, watch the final three episodes of the BBC’s landmark nature series, “Planet Earth.” This coda, made, admittedly, by people who like animals and plants, examines the future. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t look good.

So once we stop bickering about whether or not Al Gore is a hypocrite for being chauffeured to screenings of “An Inconvenient Truth” (and a host of other irrelevant distractions obsessed about by reactionary radio hosts), we must ask ourselves: What’s to be done? Is simply changing from warm and lovely incandescent light bulbs to cold and ugly fluorescents the answer? Trading in our Suburbans and Hummers for hybrids? Shutting off the air conditioner until it’s 85 degrees inside the house? All these strategies will certainly stem the tide — literally — but they’re not going to save the planet.

No matter where you stand on the moral dilemma of Man vs. Animal (i.e., which species is more important, deserving of God’s love and the resources He provides, etc.) you cannot escape the sad conclusion that our planet, bountiful and rich as it is, doesn’t contain or provide unlimited resources. At some point — and that point appears to be arriving sooner than we would like — there won’t be enough fresh water, arable soil, and biological diversity to sustain life as we know it. More than 6 billion people, most of them unimaginably poor and utterly bereft of hope for a “better” future, populate this planet. In less than 50 years, that number is expected to exceed 9 billion, most of them near-destitute and concentrated in anarchic Boschian metropolises like Lagos, Mexico City, and Mumbai. Whether you think a glorious human being, the most intelligent of animals, is worthier of survival than a rare tree frog or leopard or tropical orchid, the stark fact remains: These people will want to eat and drink, not to mention procreate and aspire to the “good life” promised by consumerist paradises like America and Western Europe. To accomplish that, we must continue to wreck the planet. Or quickly adapt to eating and breathing saltwater.

If we’re serious about preserving God’s ineffably beautiful and complex creations — Man and Earth — we must immediately do one of two things: 1) Effect a complete paradigm shift away from technologically advanced consumerism, in which the pursuit of bigger, better, faster, more, greater has replaced spiritual concerns, or 2) Start culling our population.

Despite the self-congratulatory noise one hears from many Christians, conservative politicians, and everyone else who despises civil liberties, the concept of “family values” has little practical value when our societal behavior and aspirations virtually ensures that our children, grand-children, and their grand-children will live (if our species is lucky enough to still be around) in a horribly desecrated landscape in which Death trumps Life. So #1 is probably not going to happen.

Negative population “growth” — more like “decay” — is our species’ and our planet’s best hope for survival. We mustn’t slow development; we must reduce the overall population from 6 billion to, say, 1 billion. Big religious wars and medical disasters will help, but they won’t be enough.

Practically speaking, we must voluntarily stop having children, or cap the number of offspring at One, after which both parents shall be sterilized. Since better educated and intelligent members of the Human Family are more likely to comply voluntarily, running counter to the tenets of Natural Selection, we will have a race that for many generations will be more stupid than the present one. But they will be more likely to employ stockpiles of WMDs, which will get the trick done much more quickly than the slow hand of Nature. True, there will be far fewer slaves — sorry, laborers — to make all the stuff we putatively need, but there will also be much more food and water to go around, and we won’t have to chop down the Amazon Basin to grow palm oil or graze our cows.

If all this sounds too Draconian, too radical an inconvenience for the Kings and Queens of the planet, rest assured that our species will be extinct eventually, just as millions of other species before us. Even if we destroy Earth on our way out, something will survive: a cockroach, a bacterium, or some kind of nuclear waste-resistant fish that can take advantage of everything being underwater. Still, how much nicer for the beloved fruit of our loins to have a world to live in! Even if it’s not as fabulous as the one we had! Let us resolve to save ourselves by limiting ourselves. The blessed land we live upon — and all the other creatures in God’s magic mosaic — will be most appreciative.

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