Ender's Game or Logan's Run?
James Taranto's Best of the Web in the WSJ.com today starts off with a piece about the Left and the 'problem' of overpopulation-
People on the leftward side of the political spectrum say they want to "keep government out of your bedroom," by which they usually mean they oppose restrictions on abortion. This is a bit of a non sequitur, since few abortionists make house calls. But you can see the logic: Restrictions on abortion may inhibit sexual behavior; hence they are a government intrusion "into the bedroom."
But it's an oddity of today's politics that abortion proponents tend to be allied with environmentalists, and environmentalists want government in every room in your house, from the bathroom (mandatory low-flow toilets) to the kitchen (energy saving appliances) to the garage (fuel-economy standards) to--well, any room with artificial lighting (the bulbs had better be the compact fluorescent variety).
So it turns out the only room in the house these characters want to keep the government out of is the bedroom, and only when the lights are off. And don't count on the bedroom remaining a safe haven, either. For there is, as it turns out, a nexus between abortion and environmentalism. Consider this story from the Australian:
Having large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.
John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.
The headline of the story is "Children 'Bad for Planet.' " So the idea is if you want to leave the planet a nice place for your grandchildren, you shouldn't have children. (emphasis mine)
As usual, James puts it rather succinctly. When this hit the newswire yesterday all I could think of was Orson Scott Card's 1985 novel, Ender's Game. In this book, because of overpopulation concerns families were increasingly taxed for every child they had past the first two, and only the first two received free education and health care. Is that where we're headed? Look at China, and what people there are going through to have more than one child.
I was listening to Michael Medved yesterday talking about this on the radio, and he made the point that the problem (if you believe that we are overpopulating the planet) isn't that people are having too many kids but rather that people aren't dying as young. In many parts of the developed world the birth rate is already well below the rate needed to maintain current populations, to the point that many countries, particularly in Europe are importing more and more people just to keep their infrastructure and standard of living from collapsing.
The thought that the 'problem' is caused not by too many births but by too few deaths lead me to think of another science fiction book, Logan's Run. In this one, the problem of overpopulation is solved by the humane euthanasia of all people who reach a certain age (in the original book, written in 1967, that age was 21!). Looking at assisted suicide advocates, especially in parts of Europe, this seems less and less far fetched.
So, what does this all mean?
If you believe that we are overpopulating and thereby destroying the planet, it shows how a couple of science fiction writers are eerily prescient about the 'solutions' to our current woes. If you believe that because of the already declining birthrate, the higher standard of living worldwide today, and advances in everything form medicine to farming that make it easier to do more with less, then it could just mean that I read too much sci-fi!
(and I didn't even get into the Left's intrusiveness into our bedrooms in this piece!)
Tags- Overpopulation, Science Fiction