Can America Survive?
Joseph George Caldwell
Copyright ©1999, 2000 Vista Research Corporation. All rights reserved.
Originally published June 6, 1999.
Minor corrections November 21, 2000.
Bible scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version â. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.
Koran scripture quotations taken from the Holy Qur’aan, Kutub Khana Ishayat-Ul-Islam (Regd), Delhi, India, 1978, or from The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali, copyright 1992 by Amana Corporation.
Quotations from Small Is Beautiful, A Guide for the Perplexed and Good Work by E. F. Schumacher copyright 1989, 1978, 1980 by Harper & Row, Publishers.
Quotations from Malcolm X’s speeches from Malcolm X: An NPRâ Presentation (P) 1992 by Dove Audio, 301 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
This book is devoted to God,
and dedicated to my mother, to the memory of my father,
and to my wife, Jackie.
Can America survive? The answer, quite simply, is no – not in its current form for very long, and perhaps not in any form at all for very long. This book describes why pending changes in energy availability, cultural changes brought about by recent massive immigration, the global population explosion, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, technology and materials will combine to bring an end to the United States as we currently know it – soon.
In the past four centuries, the world human population has skyrocketed, from about half a billion people to six billion at the present time. Population projections from various sources suggest that, barring a major change of some kind, the population will continue to soar, to nine billion or more by the year 2050. In the past half-century – less than a lifetime -- the population of the US has exploded from about 150 million to over 270 million. This explosive growth occurred despite the fact that fertility rates in the US dropped to low levels – it is the result of uncontrolled immigration.
The tremendous global population increase has been brought about by the development of technology to utilize the energy stored in fossil fuels, such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Petroleum and gas reserves will be exhausted, however, by about 2050, and coal reserves will not last much beyond that date if industrial development continues to expand worldwide.
Look around you. If you live in the US or other economically developed country, every man-made thing you see or see happening is a product of the expenditure of energy, and most of that energy is derived from fossil fuels. To establish and maintain our present lifestyle requires prodigious amounts of energy – an amount equivalent to about 8,000 kilograms of oil annually for each man, woman, and child living in the country. Pre-agricultural man lived “off the land,” consuming only the bounty of nature. Agricultural man could produce about 10 calories of energy with the expenditure of about one calorie of energy. Industrial man, it has been estimated, uses over ten calories of energy to produce a single calorie of food! The present system is not only exquisitely wasteful, but it is completely unsustainable. Most of what you see in the industrial world is a transitory illusion made possible by a one-time windfall supply of energy from fossil fuels that were accumulated over millions of years. When the fossil fuel reserves deplete in about 50 years, the modern world will simply disappear along with them.
Whatever age you are, if you were raised in a town or a small city, go back to where you lived as a child and observe what has happened to the nearest natural field you played in. Chances are it is now urban sprawl – pavement, concrete, and steel. For each immigrant admitted to the US – legal or illegal – about an acre of natural land is permanently destroyed, by roads, buildings, parking lots, houses, schools, and other structures that take the land out of production – both for wildlife and for agriculture. Last year the US admitted 1.2 million more immigrants. That represents the complete destruction of another .6 million acres of farmland, forest, and pastureland. Who cares? Certainly not the people in charge – they want more people because it makes more money, and they are not particularly concerned with the concomitant destruction of the environment!
Industrial activity at the massive scale of the present is causing substantial changes to Earth’s environment. By now, everyone knows that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other gases produced by industrial activity is increasing substantially every year, and that the planet’s climate and weather are controlled by these concentrations. Large-scale industrial activity is causing substantial changes to the planet’s environment – land, air, water, and ecology. In view of the established relationship of the planet’s climate and ecosystem to these concentrations, it is possible that man’s industrial activity could cause dramatic changes in the sea level, and trigger another ice age or create a lifeless “hothouse.” And for what good reason? What is the good purpose of burning all the planet’s fossil fuels as fast as possible, when it risks the destruction not only of mankind but of much other life on the planet as well? The answer is “None.” This activity cannot continue at current levels without risking dire consequences, even apart from the issue of depletion of fossil fuel reserves and other nonrenewable resources. To continue to do so is the height of folly.
This book describes the current situation and its predicted course. For the US – and any other overpopulated, multicultural, high-energy-use country -- the future is one of war, social fragmentation, and dramatic population reductions. Power will consolidate in a single dominant ethnic group; others will be eliminated or reduced to slavery or serfdom.
This book is not “just another book” on the human population “problem.” Thousands of books have been written on the problems of human population, energy and the environment. The real “problem” is that everyone is talking about the problem and no one is doing anything about it. Proposed solutions to date have either failed or been ignored. Environmentalists and ecologists continue to wring their hands while the planet croaks. This book identifies a radically new approach to the problem – one that offers the promise of reducing the risk of ecological destruction to a low level. It identifies an approach to population policy analysis and a course of action that will bring an end to the massive environmental destruction being caused by human industrial activity and significantly increase the likelihood of the survival of the human and other species.
The author of this book has a career that includes both military defense analysis and economic development. He worked for about fifteen years in defense applications and about fifteen years in social and economic applications. His work in military applications includes ballistic missile warfare, nuclear weapons effects, satellite ocean surveillance, naval general-purpose forces, tactical air warfare, air/land battle tactics, strategy, civil defense, military communications-electronics, and electronic warfare. His work in social and economic development applications includes tax policy analysis, agricultural policy analysis, trade policy analysis, health, human resource development, demography, development of systems for planning, monitoring and evaluation of social and economic programs, and educational management information systems. He has lived and worked in countries around the world. He holds a PhD degree in mathematical statistics and is an expert in mathematical game theory, statistics, operations research, and systems and software engineering. The analysis presented in this book is derived from years of experience related to, and years of analysis of, the population problem.
The organization of this book follows a logical progression, starting with a description of the current state of the planet and human population. Current trends in human population growth are identified. The relationship of human welfare to energy availability is described, and the future availability of energy is discussed. The role of economics to population growth is examined. Policies for determining what the human population size should be are identified. A new approach to population policy is introduced; it is called the “minimal-regret” approach. The likelihood of nuclear war is considered, and the damage that would result from a limited nuclear war is estimated. The impact of this war is assessed for the United States, Canada, and other countries. An assessment is made of the likelihood that the United States and various other countries will prevail after a nuclear war. The relationship of the minimal-regret approach to nuclear war strategies and the postattack environment is discussed in detail.
The main text of the book is generally nontechnical – as much as it can be for subjects (population growth, economics, energy, nuclear war) that are technical in nature. Technical discussions are presented in appendices. The appendices include graphs and tables in support of the arguments presented in the text.
The research underlying the population policy approach introduced in this book was conducted over a four-year period. During the course of doing the research, a large number of books and articles were reviewed and analyzed. The bibliography includes a list of about 600 books that were reviewed. To keep the message of this book as succinct as possible, little description is given of the content of these books. Instead, the most relevant publications are simply listed. Little space is allocated to describing the state of the environment or other population policies – just enough to provide a context for the new material presented.
This chapter summarizes the state of the world, from environmental, ecological, economic, and nuclear-warfare perspectives. There are many organizations involved in assessing the state of the world from these perspectives, and it is not the purpose of this book to present another assessment. Some of the leading publications in this area are listed below, and many others are listed in the bibliography:
1. State of the World, annual publication of Worldwatch Institute
2. Vital Signs, annual publication of Worldwatch Institute
3. World Resources, annual publication of World Resources
4. World Development Indicators, annual World Bank publication
5. World Development Report, annual World Bank publication
6. The True State of the Planet, by Ronald Bailey
7. The State of Humanity, The Ultimate Resource 2 , and The Resourceful Earth, by Julian Simon
8. Healing the Planet, by Paul and Anne Ehrlich
9. Only One World, by Gerard Piel
10. Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management, by Norman Meyers
11. Rescue the Earth! by Farley Mowat
12. The Ends of the Earth, by Robert D. Kaplan
13. The Greenhouse Book of the Nuclear Age, by John May
14. Nuclear Madness, by Helen Caldicott
Recent magazine and journal articles that summarize the situation include:
1. “The Coming Anarchy,” by Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly, February 1994
2. “Must It Be the West against the Rest?” by Matthew Connelly and Paul Kennedy, The Atlantic Monthly, December 1994
3. “The Clash of Civilizations?” by Samuel P. Huntington, Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 3, Summer (July-August) 1993, pp. 22-49.
The primary publications summarizing the economic state of the world are World Development Indicators and World Development Report, published annually by the World Bank. The data summarized in these publications is presented in a CD-ROM that gives access to over 1,000 data tables and 500 time-series indicators for 223 countries and regions. The World Development Report emphasizes selected economic development indicators, whereas the World Development Indicators report presents a more complete, integrated approach to measuring development progress. The World Development Report (WDR) publication provides a variety of indicators for 133 countries and a few basic indicators for 76 other countries (mostly having populations under one million). WDR divides countries into three categories: low-income excluding China and India, middle-income (which is further divided into lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income), and high-income economies.
For the 133 countries for which a variety of indicators is available, twenty-six countries are included in the high-income category. These countries include 902 million of the world’s six billion people. The gross national product (GNP) per capita for these countries ranges from $9,700 dollars (1995 figures) for the Republic of Korea to $40,630 for Switzerland. For the US and Canada the figures are $26,980 and $19,380, respectively. There are fifty-eight economies in the middle-income group, with GNP per capita ranging from $770 (Lesotho) to $8,210 (Greece). The population of these countries is 1,591 million. The low-income group includes 49 countries, with GNP per capita ranging from $80 (Mozambique) to $730 (Armenia). The population of these countries is 3,180 million.
In summary, a relatively small proportion of the world’s population – less than a sixth – enjoys a high economic standard of living. Billions of people live in poverty. Despite concerted efforts by developed countries and development agencies, the last half century has accomplished little more than increasing the number of very poor people from one billion to three billion.
The publications listed above paint a bleak picture of what industrialization is doing to the planet’s air, land, water, and biology. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are continuing to mount as forests are cleared and fossil fuels are burned. Chlorofluorocarbons and other industrial gasses continue to destroy the ozone layer protecting the planet’s plant and animal life. The average temperature at the Earth’s surface has increased by almost a degree (Celsius) in the last 150 years, and by almost half a degree in the last thirty years. While the size of these changes may seem small, they are sufficient to cause very large changes in the world’s weather, sea levels, and flora and fauna.
Over the last century the world has lost half its original forest area, and much so-called “reforestation” is simply replacing ecologically diverse forests with monoculture tree plantations. Each year, man destroys another 16 million hectares of ecologically diverse forest. In the article, “A Non-Fuzzy Earth Day,” in the May 3, 1999 issue of Time, Pranay Gupte (editor and publisher of The Earth Times) summarizes the situation. In the past 20 years, forests have disappeared in 25 countries, and over 95% of the forests have disappeared in 18 countries. There were an estimated 60 billion hectares of forest on the planet just before World War II; now, because of logging, cutting for firewood, and desertification, there are 3.6 billion. (Figures from the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development). The World Conservation Union estimates that this forest decline threatens 12.5% of the world’s 275,000 species of plants and 75% of its mammals.
The nonbiodegradable waste products of human industrial activity continue to grow unabated. Chemically toxic and radioactive industrial wastes poison more and more of our finite land resources every year.
The destruction to coastal wetlands and coastal fishing areas as a result of man-made pollution has been devastating. Because of the runoff of agricultural chemicals, thousands of square miles of coastal and estuarine areas have been killed.
With respect to biodiversity, tremendous changes are occurring. Two out of every three bird species in the world is declining. Eleven percent of all mammal species are threatened with “immediate” extinction, and another 14 percent are vulnerable to extinction. Eight percent of all reptile species, 10 percent of all amphibian species, and 13 percent of all fish species are in “immediate” danger of extinction. (All classifications and figures from State of the World 1998.)
The bleakest picture of all is painted by economist Julian Simon. He observes that, because of technological advances, the dollar cost of extracting resources from the natural environment falls year after year. As a result, the planet’s mineral, plant, and animal resources are plundered at an ever-increasing rate. It has been estimated a dead Bengal tiger’s parts now fetch a million dollars. Some time ago, it was speciously argued that if the price of animal products rose sufficiently, steps would be taken to preserve this valuable resource – it just made economic “sense” to do so. The falseness of this proposition has been demonstrated over and over again. So few tigers exist in the wild that they are now considered effectively extinct as a wild species. Similar exterminations of the black rhino, the musk deer, the panda, and other animals have been caused directly by human overpopulation.
While some of the rampant destruction of mammals is direct killing, much species loss is an inevitable consequence of destruction of wildlife habitat, such as forests and wetlands.
The planet is undergoing the greatest mass extinction since the time of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. Although nobody knows for sure, it has been estimated (Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management) that we are losing between 50 and 100 species a day (mostly from habitat destruction) from the 5-30 million species thought to exist. Some scientists estimate the extinction rate at 150 species per day (W. V. Reid and K. R. Miller, Keeping Options Alive: The Scientific Basis for Conserving Biodiversity, World Resources Institute, 1989).
In 1970 there were 65,000 black rhinos in Africa; in 1993 there were just 2,000. The global population of tigers has dropped by 95% in this century, to about 5,000. As of 1994, only a few dozen remained in China. The Caspian, Balinese, and Javan tigers became extinct over a decade ago. The population of Sumatran tigers has dropped to 650, and the Siberian Amur has declined to 200. (See Time, March 28, 1994, “Tigers on the Brink.”)
The alarming fact is that the destruction of the Earth’s environment is increasing, not decreasing. The level of industrial activity is increasing, not decreasing, and the destruction of the environment is continuing apace.
During the Cold War, the two superpowers were deterred from using nuclear weapons by the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction. Under this strategy, each side knew that if it attacked the other, it would surely be destroyed in a massive retaliatory attack. This policy evidently worked well, because for the several decades of the Cold War, nuclear war never occurred.
The situation is now quite different. The chance of a large-scale ballistic missile nuclear war may have lessened, but because of the lessening of control over nuclear weapons, technology, and materials (following the disintegration of the Soviet Union), the odds of a small-scale nuclear war would appear to have increased substantially. India and Pakistan recently conducted nuclear-bomb tests, and are now members of the nuclear “club.” Their relations are antagonistic. With the decreased level of control over nuclear weapons, technology, and materials, the chance that a “rogue nation” or terrorist group could bomb one or even many cities using small “suitcase-sized” nuclear bombs has probably increased substantially. In any event, the means and opportunity for a small nuclear attack are growing every year. The only consolation is that such an attack would probably not be large (like a full-fledged ballistic-missile attack).
The state of the world with respect to nuclear war was dangerous during the Cold War, and it remains so. While the odds of a large-scale ballistic-missile war may have decreased, the odds of a small-scale nuclear war have increased.
This chapter summarizes human population history and describes the current state of human population (size and growth rates).
The root cause of all of the environmental and ecological problems facing the planet is twofold: the very large human population, and the extraordinarily high levels of toxic waste produced by industrial activity. The planet can and has harbored a large number of human beings for very long periods in the past. It has been estimated that the human population has been approximately 2-20 million for the past hundred thousand years, while mankind existed in a hunting-gathering mode, increasing to about 200-300 million after the advent of the agricultural revolution (10,000 years ago).
Human population growth is often depicted in a famous curve called “Deevy’s curve,” after the man who first presented it (Edward S. Deevy, “The Human Population,” Scientific American, vol. 203, no. 9, September 1960, pp. 195-204). This curve is shown, for example, on p. 95 of Cohen’s How Many People Can the Earth Support, or p. 101 of Piel’s Only One World. It shows three main population surges: one when man invented weapons and tools (three million years ago); one when man developed agriculture (about 10,000 years ago); and one when the industrial revolution began, less than 500 year ago. The three levels of population for these “surges” are global populations of about 2-20 million human beings (preagricultural Stone Age), 200-300 million (preindustrial agriculture), and the present time. The population surge for the present time has not yet leveled off, but it will, very soon.
The total land area of Earth is 148.9 million square kilometers, of which 14.2 million is Antarctica and 11 million is desert. This leaves about 125 million square kilometers of habitable land. A total population size of say, 5 million, hence represents a density of about 4 people every 100 square kilometers. At that low level of population, with no industrial activity, mankind did not materially affect the balance of nature. (The term “balance of nature” refers to the fact that all of the waste products produced by one species are food for other species and the overall system is in a state of relative equilibrium (slow evolutionary change).) The net production of unreprocessed waste is effectively zero. The only significant ecological change attributed to mankind over the millions of years of his hunter-gatherer existence was the extinction of most large mammals (mammoths, mastodons, giant camels, and the like) at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, and there is even doubt that mankind accomplished that.
When mankind began to use agriculture, about 10,000 years ago, a lot of forest was cleared, and many local species were exterminated. The rise of civilization was responsible, for example, for the extermination of the black Atlas-mountain lion, and for the elimination of lions in general from the area occupied by the Roman Empire.
Agricultural man could produce about 10 calories of food energy for the expenditure of one calorie of food energy. This meant that a single man could produce enough food for his immediate family, and still have a surplus that could support a nonagricultural urban civilization. Conversion of much of the land area to agriculture allowed the human population to grow substantially, to the level of a few hundred million at the time of the Roman Empire.
Until about the year 1500, the size of the human population did not change much. Overall, agricultural yields were low – perhaps 1/10 of current yields. Another reason for lack of population growth was limited access to energy resources. About 1500, however, mankind started using coal instead of wood as a major source of energy. The difficulties in extracting coal led to technological advances such as the development of an efficient steam engine. These developments enabled man to utilize much larger amounts of energy. Technological development followed technological development, leading ultimately to man’s ability to produce much larger amounts of food. The human population explosion was on!
The population increased to about a billion in 1800, to two billion in 1925, three billion in 1960, four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, and to six billion today (1999). Human population is exploding at the rate of about 80 million a year, or a billion every twelve years.
As discussed at length in the references of the preceding chapter, mankind’s large population size and industrial activity are literally destroying the ecological environment on which he depends for his very existence.
Since the human population explosion threatens our existence, one would think that this topic would receive more attention than any other. Incredibly, this is not the case. Although a number of perceptive books have been written on the subject, they represent a miniscule proportion of all literature.
A number of people have commented on the incredible lack of interest in the population problem. Garrett Hardin has referred to this lack of interest as “discounting in time and space.” Any problem far away in time or distance is not given much attention. Whenever I happened to mention to someone that I was writing a book on population to someone, and that major population reductions might not occur for several decades, the response invariably was, “Oh, well, we probably won’t even be alive then anyway, so what does it matter?”
The first major work on human population was by the Rev. Thomas Malthus. He argued in 1798 that human population would eventually outstrip man’s ability to produce food. He did not anticipate the tremendous increases in agricultural productivity that were around the corner, however, and so he believed that this crisis would occur very soon, not in a couple of hundred years.
In recent times, it was conjectured that most countries would pass through a “demographic transition,” from high birth rates and high mortality rates to low birth rates and low mortality rates. Although there are some examples of this, the demographic transition is largely a myth. Birth rates in the US dropped to below-replacement levels many years ago, so that it would be expected that the population size would drop as well. The problem is that the US economy is committed to growth. The decrease in birth rate was more than offset by an increase in the immigration rate, with the result that the US growth rate is comparable to that of many “third world” countries. The US population policy is for continued population growth of about .5% per year, independent of birth rates. Last year, as noted, the US admitted over a million legal immigrants, with the objective of making them citizens. In addition, the US government repeatedly grants “amnesty” to thousands of illegal aliens, and “birthright” citizenship to any child born on US soil, even of an illegal-alien mother.
There are a number of interesting and insightful books on human population. Some of them are listed below (and many others in the bibliography):
1. How Many People Can the Earth Support? by Joel E. Cohen
2. Living within Limits by Garrett Hardin
3. Only One World by Gerard Piel
4. Population Matters by Julian L. Simon.
There are many Internet web sites dealing with human population, including:
Much of the discussion of human population involves projections of what the population size (of particular countries, groups of countries, or the world) will be in the future, under various assumptions about demographic “parameters” such as fertility rates, mortality rates and net immigration rates. These projections are usually not forecasts or predictions or estimates of future population, since they rarely take into account statistical or sociological factors such as uncertainty in the parameter values, politics, war, natural disasters, or disease. This chapter describes population projections.
There is a human “population problem” because the size of the human population is literally exploding, and explosions do not last for very long. The human population on Earth is now extremely large (six billion) and its industrial activity is wreaking havoc with the natural environment to the point of jeopardizing not only mankind’s existence but that of all other life on the planet.
As part of the analysis of the population problem, projections are often made of what size the human population will be if current demographic trends continue. The term “demographic trends” refers to the expected values of demographic parameters (fertility rates, mortality rates, and net immigration rates) in future years. Many people and organizations have made population projections. The most widely known global population projections are those of the United Nations and the World Bank. These projections show what the size of the human population will be over the next couple of centuries under various assumptions about the demographic parameters.
The UN and World Bank projections vary tremendously, depending mainly on what assumptions are made about future fertility rates. Fertility rates are declining in many, but by no means all, countries. The World Bank projections assume that fertility rates will fall in all countries to “replacement” levels over the next few decades, so that the world population will level off. (The “replacement” fertility level is the fertility level such that each woman has on average just the number of children in her lifetime to replace herself and her mate, allowing for infant and child mortality. It is about 2.1 children per woman in industrialized countries.) Using the World Bank’s fertility assumptions, the world population will be about 8-10 billion people in the year 2050, and about 10-13 billion in the year 2150.
The UN population projections allow for a greater range of variability than do the World Bank projections. The UN projections recognize the fact that fertility rates may not necessarily fall to replacement level for many countries. If this happens, the global population continues to grow. One UN projection even allows for the possibility that fertility rates would fall to below-replacement levels, resulting in a decrease in global human population. Under the UN assumptions about fertility, world population is projected to grow to between 8 and 12 billion in the year 2150, and to between 4 and 28 billion in the year 2150.
Appendix E presents additional information about the UN and World Bank population-projection methodology (including graphical presentations). Both the UN and World Bank projection models are extremely complicated, involving hundreds of parameters. In addition to describing the UN and World Bank models, Appendix E presents a much simpler projection model involving just two parameters.
Population projections are of interest since they show just how large the human population may grow, if nothing happens to change fertility or mortality levels and trends. Since many other factors are involved in determining population size (e.g., war, disease, famine), population projections are highly speculative. They are “conditional” on the specified values of the parameters, and cannot be regarded as reliable estimates of future population sizes.
So what is the inference to be gleaned from the various projections? The analysis presented in Appendix E shows that the population growth rate falls, on average, to about .5% (one half of one percent) for economically successful industrial nations. When fertility rates fall to below-replacement or near-replacement levels, these countries boost immigration, so that population growth continues. In view of this observation, it is reasonable to expect that the average population growth rate will not fall below the .5% level. Under this assumption, the world population will be about 8.5 billion in the year 2050 and about 13.5 billion in the year 2150. Over that period, the world population will continue to increase by about 68 million per year, or just a little less than the current annual increase (of about 80 million per year).
The point is that the behavior of economically successful nations indicates that, on average, population growth will not stop until one or more external factors come into play. For example, the population growth rate in Japan is about zero. It is a successful industrial nation, but its population density is now extremely high. Unlike other successful industrial nations such as the United States, Canada, and Australia that have population densities that are low relative to other countries, Japan is not allowing immigration to swell its population (or destroy its culture, but that is the subject of another chapter). Based on observed data, economically successful developed countries (on average) slow their population growth only when the population density has increased to intolerable levels.
In summary, in view of the population behavior of the world’s nations over many years, it is reasonable to expect human population to continue to grow in the future, by about the same amount each year as it has grown in the past. If current demographic trends continue, the global population will continue to soar, to about 9 billion by the middle of the next century and double its present size by the year 2125. Since the planet is already exhibiting great stress from just six billion human beings of which only a fraction are industrialized, it stretches the imagination to conceive our planet with twice as many people, with an even higher proportion of them industrialized. Environmentalists and ecologists warn of all sorts of impending disasters as mankind destroys much of nature and presses resource limits (e.g., fresh water, agricultural land, the seas) to the limit. Population projections from whatever source – the UN, the World Bank, or the two-parameter projection model presented in Appendix E – show very clearly that the “population problem” is worsening, and that we are headed for more trouble than we are already in.
The population projections discussed in the preceding chapter are of rather limited value, since they do not address the crucial issue of what the future values of the model parameters are likely to be. They do not take into account resource constraints, such as the availability of agricultural land and fresh water, or the effects of pollution, that may curtail population growth long before it increases much more. This is true both for the exquisitely complex UN and World Bank models and for the simple two-parameter model of Appendix E. The projections show that if demographic trends continue the global population may reach nine billion or twelve billion or even twenty billion people by the end of the next century, but they do not address the issue of whether those levels of human population are reasonable, in light of the planet’s size and resources.
In view of the terrible problems mankind is causing with a population of six billion (of whom relatively few are industrialized), it is of course reasonable to address the issue of whether the planet can support nine or twelve or twenty billion people, or a higher level of industrialization. This brings us to the subject of “carrying capacity.” The (human) carrying capacity of Earth is an estimate of the maximum number of human beings the planet can continue to support indefinitely. Consideration may also be given to quality of life, in which the issue is how many people at what standard of living. This chapter discusses carrying capacity.
The Earth can support several million human beings at a hunter-gatherer level of existence for millions of years – that is known from history. (See Joel E. Cohen, How Many People Can the Earth Support for discussion of human population history.) Similarly, from history it is known that it could support a couple of hundred million human beings at a non-industrial agricultural level, for several thousand years. The environmental cost of that activity was, of course, high. Mankind may have destroyed a number of animal species even as a hunter-gatherer (i.e., possibly the large mammals at the end of the last ice age), and many local plant species may have been destroyed as forests were replaced by monocultural agricultural fields.
Species destruction is not a primary concern of carrying capacity estimates. It is already known that mankind has destroyed many species, and will continue to do so if it continues to occupy the planet in large numbers. The central issue of carrying capacity estimation is whether the human species will survive, and how large the human population can be, regardless of what happens to other species. For example, if it can be credibly demonstrated that the global warming caused by six billion human beings (of which a billion are industrialized) will ultimately destroy so many species that ecological collapse ensues, then the carrying capacity is less than this. If, on the other hand, it can be demonstrated that at this level of population a sufficient balance of nature can be retained to support agriculture, then the carrying capacity is at least this size, even though mankind may ultimately destroy virtually all large wild mammals and birds.
The key issues to address in carrying capacity estimates, then, are how many people may be supported indefinitely at what level of living? An incidental item of interest is, with what cost to nature (e.g., with the survival of other large mammals as well).
In addition to consideration of the maximal stress that human beings may place on the planet’s ecology without catastrophic results, carrying capacity estimation also address the issue of limitations on human population size imposed by planetary resource constraints, such as fresh water and energy.
Although population projections receive more attention than carrying capacity estimates, interest in the latter topic is growing. Some major organizations/ books/articles on the subject are:
1. Carrying Capacity Network, Washington, DC (see Internet web site http://www.carryingcapacity.org)
2. Joel E. Cohen, How Many People Can the Earth Support?
3. David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel, eds., Food, Energy, and Society
4. “Natural Resources and an Optimum Human Population,” in Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Vol. 15, No. 5, May 1994, by David Pimentel, Rebecca Harman, Matthew Pacenza, Jason Pecarsky, and Marcia Pimentel.
5. Optimum Population Trust (OPT), David Willey, Pres., Manchester, England
6. Julian L. Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2
In simple terms, the general approach to determining Earth’s human carrying capacity is to specify the resource requirements per person for a particular lifestyle, to estimate the total planetary availability of those resources, and then to calculate the maximum number of persons simply by dividing the per-person requirements into the total available resource. For example, it has been estimated that on average each hectare of land on the planet can support about two people, at a minimal level of food and energy consumption. Since the planet has about 12.5 billion hectares of habitable (nondesert, non-Antarctic) land, it may then be estimated that the Earth can support approximately 20 billion people. Of course, it is possible that using all of the planet’s land area for human use might be so destructive to the environment that this level would not be possible. Since no one really knows how severely the planet’s ecology can be stressed by human industrial activity without catastrophic results, this carrying capacity estimate is rather fanciful.
David and Marcia Pimentel and their colleagues have produced much useful research on the subject of human carrying capacity. Their book, Food, Energy, and Society, is a superb resource on this subject. A good summary of their work is presented in the paper, “Natural Resources and an Optimum Human Population” (David Pimentel, Rebecca Harman, Matthew Pacenza, Jason, Pecarsky, and Marcia Pimentel, Population and Environment, Vol. 15, No. 5, May 1994). They estimate that Earth may be able to support about 10-15 billion people living in poverty and malnourishment, or about one to two billion people at a good standard of living, for quite some time.
David Willey of The Optimum Population Trust presents a good summary of carrying capacity estimates in his paper, “Optimum Population for Europe” (paper presented at the International Workshop on Population and Environment, Rome, October 28th and 29th, 1996). He discusses three capacity estimates: the minimum population, the maximum population, and the optimum population. The minimum population is the smallest number of human beings required to achieve a high standard of living for everyone. The maximum population is the same as the carrying capacity. The optimum population (or, in US English, the optimal population) is the maximum number of human beings that can be supported indefinitely at a high standard of living, taking into account a variety of other considerations about quality of life. The optimum population lies between the minimum and maximum populations, but is generally close to the minimum.
Willey’s estimate of the minimum population is about half a billion. His estimate for the maximum population is the same as Pimentel’s, i.e., 1-2 billion. Willey calculates the optimum population for a number of different countries, but not for the world.
Julian Simon and other economists argue that the world can easily support even more people than it currently does, at a good level of living. Their arguments are vacuous, in view of the fact that the number of desperately poor people in the world has risen dramatically in the past half-century, despite Herculean efforts by the World Bank, UN and other development agencies to accomplish otherwise.
Economist Lyndon LaRouche (candidate for the 1988 US presidential race) argued strongly for a substantially higher global human population than presently exists. In his book, There Are No Limits to Growth, he states that “our planet could sustain a population of tens of billions of persons, and at an average standard of living higher than that for the United States during the early 1970s.” In the article, “The World Needs 10 Billion People,” Steven Bardwell argued that “a nuclear-powered, high-technology human civilization that is capable of colonizing the solar system cannot function with fewer than 10 billion of us” (Fusion, September 1981). He observed that as population increases, the division of labor allows for more efficient use of human resources and hence greater productivity.
The fact that physical scientists estimate that the world is losing 50-150 species or more per day because of human activities such as deforestation, pollution, pesticides, and urbanization is of little or no concern to economists such as Simon and LaRouche. They routinely pooh-pooh such observations about human-caused destruction of the world environment and ecosystem as erroneous, unfounded, overblown, or of no consequence. That we may all be as crowded as the people of Japan, or Singapore, or Hong Kong, and live in a world devoid of tigers, pandas, eagles, and whales is of no significance, as long as economic productivity increases!
The preceding chapters have described projections of global population if current trends continue, and estimation of the minimum and maximum populations that the planet may support at various standards of living. Although these projections and estimates provide an indication about what may happen or is potentially achievable, they are not forecasts about what the future size of the human population is likely to be. This chapter discusses forecasts (estimates, predictions) of the future size of the human population.
Forecasts are relevant to the population problem because they address the issue of what the future is likely to be. Population projections are simply unconditional extrapolations of what the population size will be, ignoring all other factors such as planetary resource constraints (land, water, energy). Carrying capacity estimates take resource constraints into account, but they do not address the issue of what population sizes are most likely. Projections and carrying capacity estimates are of interest, but they are of limited scope and value. Forecasts take into account both of these, and all other factors (e.g., political, religious, ethical, sociological, ecological) as well.
Demographers are reluctant to make forecasts about future population sizes because of the large number of variables that affect population size, and the tremendous uncertainty about their behavior. These variables include disease, natural catastrophe, famine, ecological collapse, and politics (including war). In view of the fact that the world’s political leaders pay attention to economists but not to ecologists, it is rather obvious that the human population will simply continue to increase, and that economic activity will increase to an even greater extent (as poor countries industrialize), until some sort of catastrophe imposes a halt. While it may be possible to make forecasts of demographic processes under stable political and economic conditions, it is very difficult to make forecasts involving “shock” type events, such as the outbreak of nuclear war or ecological collapse.
Virtually all “forecasts” about the future human population size are “conditional,” such as, “If mankind continues to destroy the environment, human population itself will collapse;” or “If mankind continues to flood the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the planet may warm and much life will be destroyed;” or “If mankind continues to destroy tropical rain forests, a substantial proportion of all species will be destroyed.” The chilling but apparent fact is, however, that virtually nothing of substance is being done to reduce economic activity on the planet to reduce the risk of this catastrophe. A few halfhearted actions have been taken to slow the destruction, but these actions merely delay the day of reckoning, they do not avoid it.
We are presently in the greatest mass species extinction since the time of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago, and it is being caused by human economic activity. Yet where are the calls for reduced economic activity? All nations are committed, quite the opposite, to increased economic growth. The human species is racing headlong to disaster, just as lemmings to the sea, apparently totally unwilling or unable to do anything about it. It is drunk on the fruits of economic activity, and powerless to turn away from this disastrous course. The situation has worsened steadily and obviously for the past four hundred years, and the pace of environmental destruction is now “warp speed.”
The people who monitor the environment and ecology have good data supporting the assertion that massive industrial activity is making substantial changes to the planet, destroying many species, and jeopardizing our very existence. And the people who construct optimal population estimates have reasonable arguments that the planet may well be able to support one billion human beings at a reasonable standard of living. Despite both of these situations, the status quo is “full speed ahead” to the maximum population possible, regardless of the consequences.
There are reasons why the human population will continue until its growth is halted by external forces, and they will be discussed in later chapters.
I have a forecast, and it is not conditional. My prediction is that the human population will be on the order of a few tens of millions, and no more than a few hundred million, within just a few years. This book will explain why.
The quality of life for human beings varies tremendously over the planet. There are rich countries where most of the population enjoy a high standard of living, and poor countries in which most of the population live in extreme poverty. In general, the standard of living of a country is directly related to the amount of energy used by the citizens. This chapter describes the relationship of human quality of life to energy consumption.
Human population increased dramatically, from 2-20 million to hundreds of millions, with the advent of agriculture. By about the year 1500, however, limited availability of wood for energy and construction material was imposing a definite constraint on additional population growth, particularly in Europe. As mentioned earlier, about this time mankind started making use of coal as a source of energy. Technical innovations such as the development of improved steam engines led to an increased ability both to access coal and to utilize it. The combination of technological development and availability of large amounts of coal as a source of energy enabled significant population growth to occur. Since about 1650, the global human population has exhibited consistent growth, with a recent growth rate of about 1.4% per year.
The current explosive growth in the human population has been made possible by the availability of a large amount of “cheap” energy. Some people mistakenly believe that the current large population and high standard of living (for some people) is due to technology. Technology without energy is useless. On the other hand, energy without technology is also useless (for industrial applications, not for natural biological processes). To use energy it is necessary to have an energy source (e.g., the sun, uranium) and the technology to harness it. The human population will continue to grow as long as cheap energy is abundantly available. When fossil fuels run out and cheap energy is no longer available, the human population will decline markedly. All the technology in the world is of no avail (for industrial activity) without a source of energy.
The availability of large amounts of energy is responsible not only for the explosive growth in the human population, but for virtually every material, social, and economic benefit of human society. Appendix F presents a number of graphs that show the relationship of a variety of social and economic indicators to commercial energy use. These graphs show that, on average, the citizens of a country enjoy a high quality of life (e.g., high life expectancy, low infant mortality, high literacy rates) when the per capita commercial energy consumption exceeds 2,500 kilograms of oil equivalent (koe). As the energy consumption falls below that level, the quality of life falls accordingly. The level 2,500 koe is the minimal energy level required for a country to be able to provide a good standard of living for its citizens.
The main implication of this observation is that the provision of a minimum of 2,500 koe per capita per annum to all human inhabitants of Earth will require either a dramatic increase in the amount of energy available, or a dramatic decrease in the human population size. The following paragraphs show some of the calculations underlying the situation.
The current commercial energy consumption of all countries in the world is about 8,000 megatons (million tons) of oil equivalent (International Energy Agency, Energy Statistics and Balances of Non-OECD Countries, 1993-1994, p. 61). This means that at current production levels, the average energy consumption per person worldwide is 6 billion people divided by 8 billion tons of oil equivalent, or about 1.333 tons of oil equivalent (toe) = 1,333 koe (the “official” figure for 1995 is 1,474 koe, according to World Development Report 1998/99). For each of the world’s current six billion people to have access to 2,500 kilograms (2.5 tons) of oil equivalent annually would require a total production of 15 gigatons (billion tons) of oil equivalent (6 billion people x 2.5 toe per person). That is about double current production. When the world population reaches nine or twelve billion, the amount required will be 22.5 gigatons or 30 gigatons, respectively, or three or four times current production.
When compared to the energy that will be available from current solar sources, the comparisons are even starker. Pimentel et al. estimate that a maximum of 200 quads (quadrillion BTU, where “quadrillion” means one million million) of energy might be available for human use from solar sources, or about five billion tons of oil equivalent (toe). This is about five gigatons of oil equivalent (Gtoe). (See Appendix B for factors for converting from BTUs to other energy units.) That is, the amount of energy that would be required to provide twelve billion people with 2.5 toe (i.e., 30 Gtoe) is about six times that available from solar energy (i.e., 5 Gtoe).
What does this mean? Well, China and India intend to raise the standard of living for their two billion people to a level comparable to the rest of the world. At a level of 2.5 tons of oil equivalent (toe) per person, that will require 5 billion toe of energy, or all of that available from solar energy. This means that, when the oil, gas and coal run out, China and India will require the entire solar energy budget for the planet, just for their people alone. This means either that there will be an awful lot of nuclear power being used, or the rest of us will just have to go!
And the problem is not just China and India. Figures 26-28 of Appendix F summarize the distribution of commercial energy use for the countries of the world. These figures show that the vast majority of countries (about 55%) have per capita commercial energy consumptions of 1,000 koe or less, and that only 25% have per capita energy consumptions of 2,500 koe or more. In other words, in the world of today, relatively few countries have per capita energy use levels that enable a high standard of living. Most of these countries have no access to nuclear power, and it is unlikely that they ever will. When oil, gas, and coal run out, there are going to be a lot of very unhappy people around.
The previous chapter discussed the strong relationship of human welfare to energy consumption. This chapter describes sources of energy. It summarizes current sources and prospects for the future.
The major source of energy for mankind at the present time is fossil fuel. Starting about 1500, mankind started using coal. In the 1800s, oil joined coal as a source of energy, and in the late twentieth century natural gas is also being used in large quantities.
The following table shows world commercial energy consumption and proven commercial energy reserves for various types of fuel, in petajoules, for 1991 (source: World Resources 1994-95, pp. 166-167; 1 petajoule = 1015 joules = 947.8 x 109 BTU).
Fuel Type Production Consumption
Liquid 132,992 119,178
Gas 76,275 76,315
Solid 93,689 93,947
Nuclear 22,669 22,669
Hydro 9,311 9,311
Total 334,890 321,430
The following table (same data source) shows the proven commercial energy reserves for 1990, and ratio, R/P, of reserves to production, which is an estimate of the number of years of production remaining:
Fuel Type Reserves R/P
Hard Coal 19,891,141
Soft Coal 4,582,845
All Coal 24,473,986 209
Oil 5,639,794 45
Natural Gas 5,004,802 52
These tables show that even at current rates of production, it is projected that oil and gas reserves will be exhausted in the next 50 years, and coal reserves within about 200 years. People argue about just exactly what the true size of the reserves is, but the point is that before very long industrialized man will have exhausted the fossil fuels. These projections are somewhat conjectural, since the burning of all of the oil, gas, and coal reserves, accompanied by the burning of much of the world’s forests, would add such a large amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that some sort of major climatic change would be expected to occur before exhaustion of the reserves.
The planet’s oil reserves are about half used up. The “bell-shaped” production curve of the planet’s coal and petroleum ages was made famous in 1960 by M. King Hubbert, principal fuels geologist of the US Geological Survey. (See Gerard Piel, Only One World, p. 176 for an illustration of Hubbert’s curves / Hubbert’s cycles.)
Although there is a considerable amount of coal on the planet, it is distributed very unevenly. The following table shows the reserves for the sixteen countries having the largest recoverable, according to the World Energy Council (WEC) and British Petroleum (BP) (source: The Wiley Encyclopedia of Energy and the Environment, vol. 1, p. 379; WEC figure shown unless otherwise indicated):
Country Total Recoverable Coal (million metric tons)
China 730,505 (WEC) – 166,125 (BP)
United States 240,920
USSR 239,020(BP) - 40,936(WEC)
South Africa 55,318
Yugoslavia (former) 16,565
Czechoslovakia (former) 5,369
The top three countries possess almost 70% of the recoverable coal reserves (using the WEC figures).
The point to the preceding table is that, although there may be sufficient coal to last for about 200 years at current production rates, most of it is in just three countries. Much of the current oil and gas supply is in low-population countries, such as Saudi Arabia, that cannot possibly use all of the production for themselves. They are hence quite willing, indeed eager, to sell it to other countries. When oil and gas are gone, and only coal remains, and the few (large-population) countries that possess it need all of it for their own populations, it will be interesting to see how much is offered for sale to other countries.
There are a number of good sources on energy information and data. Two of the best are:
1. Food, Energy, and Society, by David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel, eds.
2. Energy for Tomorrow’s World, by the World Energy Council.
Pimentel et al. provide a summary of solar energy resources in the article, “Natural Resources and an Optimum Human Population.”
Other useful sources of energy information and data include the following.
3. Survey of Energy Resources 1995, World Energy Council
4. International Energy Outlook 1998 with Projections Through 2020, Energy Information Administration
5. International Energy Annual 1996, Energy Information Administration
6. Annual Energy Review 1997, Energy Information Administration (historical statistics)
7. World Energy Outlook 1996 Edition, International Energy Agency (OECD)
8. Global Energy: The Changing Outlook, International Energy Agency
9. Energy Statistics of OECD Countries, 1993-94, OECD
10. Energy Balances of OECD Countries, 1993-1994, OECD
11. Energy Statistics and Balances of Non-OECD Countries, 1993-1994, OECD
12. Energy Statistics Yearbook 1994, UN
13. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Energy and the Environment, vols. 1 and 2, by Attilio Bisio and Sharon Boots
14. The Prize, by Daniel Yergin (also a PBS television series)
15. World Resources 1994-95, by World Resources Institute (has more tables on energy than later editions)
16. Cool Energy, by Michael Brower
17. Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security, by Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins
Much energy data is available for free on the Internet at the Energy Information Administration’s web site, http://www.eia.doe.gov. The best Internet web site on energy, with much discussion of the relationship of human population size to the availability of fossil fuel, is Jay Hanson's web site, http://www.dieoff.com. That web site includes copies of many interesting articles, including those by David and Marcia Pimentel.
In the article, “Solar Energy and Other ‘Alternative’ Energy Sources,” in The Resourceful Earth by Julian Simon and Herman Kahn, eds., Petr Beckmann (author of A History of Pi) describes the difficulties in making use of solar energy. He notes that the total insolation (yes, the word is inSOLation) of the globe (solar energy reaching Earth) is 178,000 terawatts, or 4,500 times mankind’s present rate of energy consumption. The big problem is that the energy is very dilute – an average of about one kilowatt per square meter. When concentrated by nature, as in fossil fuels or wind or in rainfall (that feeds hydroelectric dams), solar energy is “high-grade.” Otherwise, it is a very inefficient source of energy, since tremendous losses are involved in transforming it to high-grade energy (such as electricity or liquid fuel).
The Energy Resources Advisory Board of the US Department of Energy (Biomass Energy 1981) estimates that only .1% of the total solar energy reaching the Earth can be harvested as biomass in temperate and tropical regions.
Taking into account nighttime and clouds, the power density figure of 1kW/m2 drops to about 100 W/m2 in moderate latitudes. The losses involved in converting this low-grade, dilute energy to high-grade concentrated energy range from .7 for heat collectors (e.g., solar hot-water heaters) to .00008 for biomass. The end result is that although the total amount of solar energy striking the planet is very great, after transforming to high-grade energy it can produce only a fraction of man’s current total energy consumption.
As noted by Pimentel et al., mankind is currently utilizing about half of all of the solar energy captured by plant photosynthesis, and even this is not sufficient to cover its food, forest products, and energy consumption. Worldwide, only about one-sixth of man’s total energy use is from solar sources (hydropower, biomass), and about five-sixths is from fossil fuels. As fossil fuels deplete over the next century, mankind will have to look to other sources of energy. The major alternative sources are nuclear power and solar power.
Renewable solar power includes a wide variety of technologies, including solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, hydropower, and biomass. Pimentel et al. estimate that worldwide solar energy could be developed to produce about 200 quads (1 quad = 1 quadrillion BTUs) of energy per year on a sustainable basis. This is much less than the 369 quads of energy currently being consumed each year.
Not all forms of energy are equivalent, from the viewpoint of usefulness. Solar heat collected to heat residential water is “low-grade”, unconcentrated energy that is useless for running motors or powering electric arc welders. The electrical power generated from the water rushing through a large hydroelectric dam is “high-grade,” concentrated energy that can be used to generate high-voltage electricity to perform a wide range of industrial functions.
As noted, much solar energy is low-grade energy (e.g., heat, not electricity). Furthermore, many solar energy devices have an “energy yield” of less than one, i.e., they require more energy to produce than they ever generate. Moreover, they often produce only low-grade energy, while the energy required to produce them is high grade (e.g., a solar water heater). While it may make economic sense to produce such devices when fossil fuels are available at very low cost (e.g., to produce power for special applications such as solar-powered calculators or space satellites), they will never be used to generate power on a large scale since they generate less energy over their lifetimes than is used to make them. When was the last time you saw a factory totally powered by solar cells that was producing solar cells? Never. And you never will. Most solar energy devices, except for hydroelectric power, wind, and biomass, are economically feasible only when essentially “free” high-grade energy is available for their production, in the form of fossil fuels.
Clearly, when fossil fuels run out, mankind will be forced either to reduce its standard of living dramatically, or reduce its total population size dramatically, or turn to sources of energy other than solar.
It is also important to recognize that each time energy is converted from one form to another, energy is lost in the form of wasted heat. To get the most out of the sun’s energy, it is important to avoid energy conversions. For example, it is much more efficient to use a windmill directly to pump water (as in remote ranches in the western US) than to use the windmill to drive an electric generator to generate electricity that is then stored in an electric storage battery, and then used to drive an electric motor to pump the water. Or, it is much more efficient to use heat direct from the sun’s rays to heat water, than to harvest biomass, ferment it to produce alcohol, and then either burn the alcohol or use it to generate electricity which is in turn used to power electric heaters. The 200 quads of energy mentioned earlier is a “mix” of low-grade and high-grade energy (e.g., some from direct heating, some from biomass, some from hydroelectric, some from wind). It is not at all the equivalent of 200 quads of oil or 200 quads of electrical energy.
Nonsolar sources of renewable energy include tides (lunar energy), geothermal (from the internal heat of the Earth), and nuclear energy (from uranium). Tides and geothermal can produce only limited amounts of energy in a few locations. And that brings us to nuclear energy.
There are two basic types of nuclear energy: fusion and fission. Today’s nuclear reactors are all fission reactors, i.e., they generate energy by splitting atoms. Fusion nuclear energy is generated by joining together, or fusing, hydrogen atoms into helium atoms. When this fusion takes place, some matter is converted to energy, in accordance with Einstein’s famous e=mc2 equation. Fusion energy is the type of energy produced by the sun. The sun is, in effect, simply a large helium factory. The problem with fusion is that it is extremely difficult to start and maintain a fusion reaction. Although the technical feasibility of producing a fusion reaction has been established, the goal of maintaining a fusion reaction for a long time and developing a commercial fusion reactor has remained elusive. Despite the expenditure of billions of dollars and decades of time, it is not clear that a commercial fusion reactor will ever be developed.
Even if it is, fusion reactors are problematic. First, they are very inefficient. They consume a great deal of energy in order to produce just a little more than that consumed. They generate large amounts of heat, which is disposed into the aquatic environment. Finally, the fusion reaction eventually makes the entire fusion reactor radioactive, resulting in a massive and never-ending environmental problem of radioactive waste disposal.
In view of the extremely serious drawbacks of nuclear fusion, and the failure to develop it despite massive investment, it would be folly to count on nuclear fusion as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Unlike fusion, fission nuclear energy has been used commercially for decades to generate electricity. Fission nuclear energy, however, is also extremely problematic. First, it generates large amounts of radioactive waste. Fission reactors work by splitting uranium atoms into other atoms. Just as with fusion, some matter is converted to energy in this process, resulting in the production of large amounts of energy. Unfortunately, the atoms produced by the fission process are highly radioactive. No solution to the problem of disposing of the radioactive waste from nuclear fission has ever been found. There are now large amounts of radioactive waste from nuclear reactors stored in temporary storage facilities around the world. These waste products require extremely long times, e.g., tens of thousands of years, to deteriorate into harmless products.
Unless a solution is found to the problem of disposing of nuclear waste, continued use of fission is causing an environmental disaster of large proportions. In fact, because the cost of eliminating the radioactive waste (or storing it for thousands of years) is not known, it is not known whether nuclear fission has an energy yield of greater than one. It may well be the case that the current generation is imposing on future generations an energy cost (for storage of radioactive waste from nuclear fission) that far exceeds the amount of energy that we are obtaining from nuclear fission. Mankind’s current generation has clearly discounted the cost to future generations to essentially zero, or it would not use nuclear fission until a method was found for eliminating the radioactive waste.
Of course, this would not be the first time that a human generation has totally disregarded the welfare of future generations. The present generation of human beings is in the process of depleting all of the world’s natural gas and oil, and much of its coal. These fuels are obviously of high value and are irreplaceable – once they are gone they are gone forever. The present generation does not care a whit about the fact that it is denying them to all future generations, forever. The same is true of species that it exterminates. They are gone forever.
The current generation of human beings is in the process of making the planet totally uninhabitable for all future generations. The industrialized human species – economic man – is morally bankrupt. It is ravaging the planet, consuming all of its wealth as rapidly as it can, all in the interest of making a fast buck, regardless of the consequences to other species or even later generations of its own. It is a cancer on the planet, devouring its bounty and beauty, destroying an exquisite balance of nature that has lasted for eons, and leaving in its wake a ravaged planet infected with radioactive and toxic waste, polluted lakes, rivers, and seas, decimated forests, extinguished species, and a poisoned atmosphere.
Another problem associated with nuclear energy is that it produces prodigious amounts of waste heat, which is disposed of in our aquatic systems (rivers and lakes). It is estimated (Pimentel et al.) that a fifteen-fold increase in the number of nuclear power plants in the US would increase the temperature of our aquatic ecosystems by 10 degrees Celsius, with dire consequences for these systems.
The third major problem associated with fission nuclear power is that its long-term use produces large amounts of plutonium, which can be used for making nuclear bombs. This point warrants some discussion. (See The Control of Nuclear Power by David Collingridge for more details.) The two main types of fission reactors are the thermal, or “once-through” reactor, and the fast breeder reactor. We shall first describe the thermal reactor.
The thermal reactor derives its energy from fission of the U235 isotope of uranium. Natural (mined and extracted) uranium consists of .7% U235, which is fissionable, and 99.3% U238, which is not. For use in nuclear reactors, the uranium is “enriched,” i.e., it is processed (concentrated) so that it contains 2-3% U235 and 97-98% U238. When the reactor operates, the fissionable U235 decays into lighter atoms. Some of the neutrons produced by the decaying U235 are absorbed by other U235, causing them to split, thereby producing heat (to run steam electricity generators) and more neutrons (to continue the nuclear chain reaction). In addition, some of the neutrons are absorbed by the U238 to produce the Pu239 isotope of plutonium.
As the reactor operates, the U235 decays and forms other products that interfere with the nuclear reaction. It is hence necessary to stop operation of the reactor before all of the U235 is used up. The spent fuel may be removed and discarded (i.e., stored, since it is highly radioactive), or it may be reprocessed back to 2-3% concentration of U235. Whether the spent fuel is discarded (with some U235 still in it) or reprocessed is a matter of economics. For some reactors reprocessing has been economically worthwhile, whereas for others it has not.
The two main waste products of the thermal reactor are “depleted uranium,” U238, and plutonium Pu239. Since thermal reactors convert U235 to U238, after some time all of the available U235 is used up. With current extraction technology, the world’s reserves of uranium are sufficient to provide about 100 years of nuclear power using thermal reactors. Clearly, the thermal reactor is not the solution to the industrial world’s energy “problem.”
The process of enriching uranium produces very large amounts of depleted uranium (U238), and the thermal reaction produces a certain amount of plutonium Pu239. By themselves, these waste products are useless. There is a way, however, that they can be combined with U235 to produce massive amounts of energy. That process is called the fast breeder reactor.
The fast breeder reactor works as follows. First, it is noted that in the thermal reaction it is necessary to slow down the neutrons that are released from decaying U235, in order for them to be absorbed by other U235 atoms (and continue the reaction by causing them in turn to split). The fast neutrons are slowed down by material (such as water or graphite) in the reactor; this material is called a “moderator.” The fast breeder reactor does not need a moderator to slow down the neutrons produced by the decaying U235, hence the use of the descriptor “fast.” In the fast breeder reactor, some of the fast neutrons are absorbed by atoms of plutonium. This causes them to split, producing heat (for generation of electricity) and more neutrons (to continue the nuclear chain reaction). In addition, some of the neutrons are absorbed by the depleted uranium, U238, and it is converted to plutonium, Pu239. This created plutonium can in turn be used to fuel other reactors, hence the name “breeder” reactor. (Note that in order to use the created plutonium it is necessary to recycle the spent fuel and separate the plutonium.)
Hence by using fast breeder reactors the large amounts of depleted uranium produced by the enrichment process can be converted into plutonium. Using fast breeder reactors, there is sufficient uranium to produce power for hundreds of thousands of years. As David Collingridge noted, “the breeder is inevitable.” It is obvious from man’s behavior that he has no intention of living on a “solar energy budget” that can support only a small fraction of the world’s current population. As fossil fuels deplete in the next century, it is not imaginable that mankind will choose to use up the available U235 in “once-through” thermal reactors. Soon, mankind will begin to use breeder reactors, big time.
So what’s the hitch? The hitch is that whereas it is very difficult and costly to use the fuel of a thermal reactor to make a nuclear bomb, it is relatively easy to make a nuclear bomb from plutonium. To make a nuclear bomb from thermal reactor fuel requires that the fuel be reprocessed into highly enriched uranium (e.g., 20% U235), and the enrichment process is costly. The fuel of a breeder reactor – plutonium – can be used directly to make a nuclear bomb. And once the world moves to using fast breeder reactors on a large scale, there will be breeder reactors everywhere. That is, plutonium will be everywhere. And that means that everywhere there is power, there is a ready supply of plutonium for nuclear bombs.
The publication, The Amount of Plutonium and Highly-Enriched Uranium Needed for Pure Fission Nuclear Weapons, by Thomas B. Cochran and Christopher E. Paine (Natural Resources Defense Council, 1995), provides a table showing the amount of plutonium required to make nuclear bombs of various yields (1-20 kilotons), under various levels of technology. At a low-technology level, from 3 to 6 kg of plutonium is required (3 kg for a 1 kt bomb, 4 kg for a 5 kt bomb, 5 kg for a 10 kt bomb, and 6 kg for a 20 kt bomb). Physically, these are very small quantities – about the size of a baseball.
It is noted that while plutonium is useful for breeder reactors (or nuclear weapons), it extremely radioactive and poisonous. Once breeder reactors are in widespread use, large quantities of plutonium will be produced and be distributed over the globe (at all breeder reactors and reprocessing plants), representing a serious health hazard.
As discussed above, plutonium can be used to make nuclear bombs. Some additional remarks will be made about the kind of nuclear bomb that can be made from a small amount of plutonium. Just as there are two types of nuclear reactors – fusion reactors and fission reactors – there are two types of nuclear bombs: fission bombs, which are often called atomic bombs or atom bombs or A-bombs; and fusion bombs, which are often called thermonuclear bombs, or hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs. Atomic bombs are “small.” They are the type of bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in the second world war; they produce an energy release on the order of 1-20 kilotons (thousand tons) of TNT. H-bombs, on the other hand, can produce massive amounts of energy, e.g., the equivalent of 50 or 100 megatons (million tons) of TNT.
While the construction of an H-bomb is a complex, difficult process, the construction of an atomic bomb is relatively simple. An atomic bomb works by taking two or more lumps of radioactive material and smashing them together into a larger lump whose size and density exceeds what is called a “critical mass.” The element continues to exist at densities below the critical mass, undergoing a slow process of “natural” radioactive decay. At densities above the critical mass, however, an “uncontrolled chain reaction” occurs. The products and energy released by some decaying atoms cause other nearby atoms also to decay, and those in turn cause others to decay. The result is the immediate destruction of a large number of atoms, and the release of a massive amount of energy. The release of this massive amount of energy instantly vaporizes the radioactive material, the bomb casing, and anything else nearby (e.g., earth, if the detonation is at or below the Earth’s surface), and the result is an “atomic explosion.”
Although the building of an atomic bomb was a tremendous feat in the early 1940s, it is no longer difficult technology. Any country or organization with access to properly trained engineers can build one. All it needs is some radioactive material. And there’s where breeder reactors become a problem. The fission products of a once-through reactor are not “weapons-grade” products. They cannot easily be used to make an atomic bomb, without reprocessing to “weapons-grade” or “highly-enriched” concentrations (of U235). On the other hand, an atomic bomb can easily be made with about five pounds of plutonium. Such a bomb would be sufficiently small to fit in a suitcase. Although this is a “small” atomic bomb, it is comparable to the ones used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and can certainly destroy a large city.
If the world turns to breeder reactors, it will in essence have hundreds or thousands of plutonium factories around the world. In view of the total inability of mankind to get along, it would just be a matter of time until one group or another assembled a few hundred or a few thousand suitcase bombs and proceeded to blow up all of the major cities of the world.
It has been estimated that the world has “lost track” of about 1,500 kg of plutonium. At 5 kg per bomb (to produce a bomb of the size that destroyed Hiroshima), 1500 kg of plutonium is sufficient to produce 300 low-tech nuclear bombs. And the world has hardly begun to use breeder reactors! (Just this month -- May 1999 -- it was revealed that the US has lost track of another 2,000 kg of plutonium.)
In view of the serious problems associated with nuclear fission, it is not regarded as a feasible long-term alternative to fossil fuels as a source of energy. In summary, it would appear that if mankind is going to survive, it is going to have to learn to live on the annual budget of current solar energy. The only feasible alternative – fission nuclear energy – is tantamount to nuclear annihilation.
In view of the fact that solar energy can produce only about 200 quads of energy a year, the carrying capacity of the planet at different standards of living may be readily calculated. Currently the average per capita consumption of energy in the US is equivalent to about 8,000 kilograms of oil. This is referred to as 8,000 kilograms of oil equivalent (koe) or eight (metric) tons of oil equivalent (toe). This is somewhat more than is used by other developed nations. Assuming the somewhat smaller figure of five toe as a reasonable level of an “industrial” standard of living, the number of people who can be supported by 200 quads of solar energy may be calculated. One quad is equivalent to 25.197 billion koe, and so 200 quads is equivalent to 5,039 billion koe. Dividing five thousand billion koe by 5,000 koe per person, we obtain one billion. So about a billion people can be supported on the Earth’s annual renewable solar energy resources at a high (industrialized-nation) standard of living, assuming that no other resource limit is reached.
In the very poor countries of the world, the per-capita energy consumption is about 200 koe. At that level, 200 quads of usable solar energy would support about 24 billion people in dire poverty, assuming no other resource limit is reached.
The population projections discussed earlier did not take into account energy constraints. In view of energy limitations, a projection to nine billion people at the middle of the next century implies either that most of them will be living in dire poverty, or much use will be made of nuclear energy.
Prior to the industrial revolution, the planet’s ecosystem, while changing somewhat in composition because of the agriculturalization of the world, was in balance. That is, all of the waste generated by each species was used as food by other species. That is no longer true today. Industrial activity produces many “synthetic” products that are not assimilable at all by living creatures. The 8,000 koe per year in energy used on average by each person in the US is used to produce a wide variety of toxic and nonbiodegradable products.
Having an adequate energy supply is just half of the problem. The other half of the problem is what to do about the waste. In the natural ecosystem, energy is obtained from the sun each day, and continuously converted by living creatures into waste that is completely consumed by other living creatures. Mankind, however, uses energy to produce waste that cannot be consumed by living creatures. For industrial man to continue to survive, i.e., to be sustainable, it is necessary (although not sufficient) for him to eliminate all of the waste that his industrial activity produces. Present day man does not do this. He simply dumps most of the waste – toxic, radioactive, or other – into the environment. In order for man to survive in the ecosystem as we know it, it must be the case that all of his waste is reprocessed. Otherwise there is no balance of nature. Biological creatures do not have to worry about reprocessing their waste; evolution and the balance of nature have taken care of that. Industrial creatures such as man must worry very much about this, or they will “soil their nest” and make it unlivable. For every joule of energy that is used by man, he must insure that the waste produced by it is reprocessed (completely).
In order for mankind to continue indefinitely with any level of industrial activity, its production of nonbiodegradable or nonrecyclable waste must stop. Either the production of nonbiodegradable items must cease, or energy must be expended to transform the industrial products into biodegradable ones. Virtually all industrial products end up as waste, within a few years. This includes all of our appliances, containers, clothes, furniture, cars, buildings, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, power lines, sewage treatment plants). Transforming nonbiodegradable substances into biodegradable ones requires energy, and usually lots of it. In some cases, nonbiodegradable items can be reprocessed and reused, e.g., used aluminum cans into new aluminum cans. In some cases, highly toxic materials must be burned at high temperatures to break them down. Radioactive materials cannot be destroyed (except in a nuclear reaction).
To date, the approach to industrial waste has largely been to ignore it, i.e., to “sweep it under the rug” by transporting to landfills, or by dumping in rivers, lakes, or oceans. This approach is not sustainable, and in fact cannot continue for very long at all at today’s high rates of industrial activity. At some point sufficient energy must be expended to convert all industrial waste into useful products or biodegradable products. Data are not readily available on how much energy will be required to do this. If it is (optimistically?) assumed that the same amount of energy is required to dispose of industrial products as was expended to create them in the first place, then the amount of energy required per capita doubles. In this case, the planet’s solar energy budget could not support one billion industrial human beings, but only 500 million.
It is quite possible that a significant population of industrial human beings can never be sustained on the planet. Prior to industrial man, all of the plant and animal waste production from the entire solar energy supply was 100% recycled – all of the waste from one species was food for another. Industrial mankind produces waste that is toxic to the ecology, and that is not recycled at all. By relying on energy sources other than solar (such as nuclear), man also generates much more waste than is possible under a “current solar energy budget.” At some industrial activity level, the planet’s ecosystem will simply be unable to reprocess the industrial waste generated by man on a long-term basis. It is quite conceivable that the planet’s ecosystem (as we currently know it) can survive in the long run only as a photosynthetic system on a “current solar energy budget,” without massive input of energy (and toxic waste) from other sources. If this is the case, there is no place for industrial man on the planet at all.
The message of this chapter is that the large increase in human population over the past 500 years has been made possible by tapping the energy in fossil fuels. When that source of energy disappears in the next century, the human population will either drop right back to the preindustrial levels supported by solar energy (e.g., a few hundred million), or other forms of energy must be found to substitute for fossil fuels. At the present time, fast breeder fission reactors are the only feasible alternative, and they have a serious drawback of producing plutonium, which can readily be used to make atomic bombs.
The basic approach to the energy problem (i.e., the depletion of fossil fuels in a few decades) by the world governments is to ignore it. There is much talk of alternatives to fossil fuels and fission nuclear energy, such as solar energy and fusion energy, but it is just talk. Despite much investment and research, alternative technologies have not been developed. They are in the realm of science fiction or “new age” literature. Isaac Asimov conceived a universe parallel to our own with which energy could be exchanged. Edgar Cayce describes crystal power plants in Atlantis that collected energy from the sun and other sources. Alan F. Alford (Gods of the New Millennium, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1996) describes pyramid-energy sources in the ancient world. These alternatives are not too promising, to say the least!
Clearly, mankind is facing some difficult decisions. Either reduce global population size to a level that is supportable by the annual budget of solar energy, or use nuclear fission to generate energy, thereby producing long-lasting radioactive waste and the material used to produce nuclear bombs. Since no steps are being taken by world governments to accomplish the former (i.e., a human population of size that can be supported by solar energy), it is pretty clear where we are headed: more people and more nuclear energy.
Human population will continue to expand, and mankind will continue to use nuclear energy and generate nuclear waste. Industrial man will not be denied energy, or he will cease to exist. The fact that nuclear reactors generate radioactive waste and waste heat will not deter mankind in the least from using them. But the fact that the most promising type of nuclear reactor – the fast breeder reactor – generates large amounts of plutonium will have a significant impact on man’s future. The availability of large amounts of plutonium significantly increases the likelihood of nuclear war.
Previous chapters have alluded to the role of economics in affecting population-related decisions. This chapter discusses this role in further detail. This additional discussion of economics will serve as reference for later chapters.
The dictionary (Merriam Webster) definition of economics is “of, or relating to, or based on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” According to this definition, economic activity exists in every society, even the hunter-gatherer society, where decisions are made about who collects the food and how it is shared.
Economic activity became a significant aspect of man’s activity with the advent of agriculture. With agriculture, mankind developed the ability to produce a substantial food surplus, so that a portion of the population could reside in cities and pursue nonagricultural activities. These activities included development of commerce, law, the arts, medicine, science, and industry. The agricultural surplus enabled the support of large armies and thence to the creation of the world’s many civilizations.
A word of warning is noted here. The social and economic implications of depleted energy sources, unsustainable population growth, and nuclear threat may be, for some, uncomfortable to discuss. I will discuss topics like slavery, which has disappeared in today’s high-energy environment but will return in a low-energy environment. I will discuss these subjects frankly, unconstrained by today’s “political correctness.” I discuss them not because of a preconceived bias, but because history and reason point to them, and they are too important to ignore, soften, or lie about. Some readers may be offended by what I have to say, but please hear me out, and consider my arguments. What I am talking about could happen to you!
The agricultural revolution led naturally to human slavery. In a hunter-gatherer mode, it is not practical to keep slaves. Defeated enemies are simply killed. In preindustrial agriculture, however, there is a large demand for slaves for labor, and the social organization exists to maintain slavery as a system. Compare the absence of slavery in the nomadic hunter-gatherer North American Indian tribes to the significant slavery of the agricultural Central and South American Indian tribes.
Slavery did not exist because our forefathers were less ethical or religious than we. On the contrary, they were far more religious than we are. Slavery existed because of a strong demand for energy, and it continued on a global scale until the development of technology and fossil fuels presented an alternative source of energy. Whether slavery exists has nothing to do with religion or ethics. Take away today’s access to energy, and human slavery will return as quickly as it was replaced. Whether slavery thrives is determined by economics, not ethics.
Because of the fascination of American sociologists with the topic, many books have been written about slavery. Some of them are the following:
1. Slavery: A World History, by Milton Meltzer, Da Capo Press, 1993
2. The Making of New World Slavery, by Robin Blackburn, Verso, 1997
3. African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean, Herbert S. Klein, Oxford University Press, 1986
These books discuss the economic motivation for slavery.
Economics is a main force underlying population growth. Because of man’s greed, he is constantly striving for more…more of everything. More material possessions, more power, more knowledge, more security, more comfort, better health, longer life, more variety, more freedom. As mentioned earlier, the standard measure of material well-being is the gross domestic product per capita. Recently, a number of other indicators of well-being have received attention, such as the UNDP’s Human Development Index, but these additional indicators are strictly “second string” measures of standard of living. The indicator that matters to the people in charge – politicians and industrialists – is the gross domestic product.
Many people have a serious misconception about the relationship of population size to economic well being. They assume that the finiteness of resources implies that, now that the world is populated everywhere, if the population increases then the standard of living must decrease. This conclusion must hold “in the limit,” since there is obviously some limit to the amount of industrial activity that the planet can support and still continue to function biologically. The fact is, however, that whenever a limitation has been reached on one resource, technological innovation has invariably found a way to overcome that limitation by means of a substitution of a limited resource for a less limited one. While this substitution of resources will not enable human population to grow without limit, it has certainly worked for a long time.
Julian Simon discusses this concept at length in many of his books on the subject (e.g., Population Matters, The Ultimate Resource 2, and The State of Humanity). If copper is in short supply, then fiber optics is invented. If oil runs out then breeder reactors will be used. If salmon are exterminated then bean curd can be used. If black rhinos are exterminated then white rhino horns can be used for Yemeni dagger handles. If white rhinos are exterminated then wood can be used. From an economic perspective, all that matters is market value, cost per unit, and economic output. When one resource is depleted or destroyed, just find a different way of doing things, or do something else. Everything is expendable, everything is replaceable. All that matters is economic output and economic efficiency. Economics über Alles.
Because of technical innovation, the standard of living has improved year after year for many people. There are more wealthy people on the planet than ever before. Many ordinary people in the developed world live in far greater comfort than the kings of previous times. On the other hand, there are now about four billion people on the planet who are living in direst poverty, but that is of little concern to economists. World wide, both the total gross domestic product (GDP) and the gross domestic product per capita continue to increase. (The gross domestic product is the total value of all goods and services produced – money changing hands – in a country in a year. The earnings of multinational operations are attributed to the country in which the goods and services are produced. The gross national product (GNP) was used rather than the GDP until 1991. For the GNP, the earnings of multinational firms are attributed to the country in which the firm is owned.)
The fact is, contrary to what many people believe, increasing the population size (up to a point) does not necessarily lead to a lower standard of living. Because of increased opportunities for specialization, it may actually lead (and often has led) to an increase in the standard of living, as measured by GDP (or GNP).
The people in charge – politicians and industrialists – want to increase both GDP and GDP per capita. A country with twice the economic output per capita as another country having the same population is twice as rich, and probably twice as powerful. A country with twice the population as another country having the same GDP per capita is probably twice as powerful in the world community, and probably has twice as many millionaires. If the US population doubles from 150 million to 300 million, Microsoft can sell twice as many copies of its Windows operating system, and reap twice the profits. If the GDP per capita of the US doubles, the number of households that can afford computers could easily double, and Microsoft sales would double as well. If the world population doubles from six to twelve billion, the world will need twice as many basic necessities such as pots, pans, fans, and air conditioners. This translates into twice as much economic activity, twice as many industrial jobs, twice as much earnings, twice as much profits.
So what is wrong with this picture? Who is against high standards of living? What is wrong is that the attention of the people in charge (politicians, industrialists) is centered on the promotion of economic growth irrespective of the damage to the planet’s ecology. Millions of species live in the world’s tropical forests. While it is not really known how many species are eliminated for each hectare that is burned, it is obvious that if all of the tropical forests are destroyed, then all of the resident species are gone forever. And that is exactly what is happening.
So long as human population grows and economic activity increases, the material wealth of those in charge will increase, both in absolute and per capita terms. Because of man’s greed, the planet’s political and industrial leaders will never promote a policy of lower population or lower economic activity. Both will continue to increase, and nature will continue to be destroyed. This fact is obvious from all of human history.
Why, one might ask, will the world’s leaders not put a stop, or at least discuss putting a stop, to economic growth, when there is the potential for disaster – not just the loss of many other species, but the very real possibility of the complete destruction of their own nations and the human race? It is not totally clear. One factor is the “discounting in time and space” mentioned earlier: the disaster will probably fall on the next generation, not on ours, and so we do not need to worry about it. I believe that this is an important factor, because of the almost universal response I have gotten from people when I told them the subject of this book. A laugh, and a remark similar to, “Oh, I probably won’t be alive then anyway.”
Another factor is that people are willing to kill for economic benefit, but not for environmental benefits. Countries will go to war, sacrificing the lives of millions, for the prospect of economic gain. And they will go to war to defend themselves from enslavement. Similarly, individuals and groups will commit murder for economic gain. But no one, it appears, it willing to kill to protect other species, or even the next generation of the human species.
General George S. Patton remarked that wars were not won because some poor bastard was willing to die for his country. Instead, he said that wars were won because some poor bastard was willing to make some other poor bastard die for his country! In other words, wars are not won by people being willing to lay down their lives; they must be willing to kill. The relevance of this observation with respect to environment or ecology is that no one is willing to kill to protect them. To be sure, a few brave souls, such as the early Greenpeace activists, were willing to lay their lives on the line to protect whales, by physically placing their rafts in front of whaling boats. And a few dedicated environmentalists have risked their lives attempting to protect giant redwood trees in California or lynx habitat in Colorado. These people are willing to sacrifice their lives for the environment, but not their mortal souls (by killing for the environment).
Why is no one nation or group or individual willing to kill to save the environment? That a nation is unwilling to do so is not unremarkable. First, nations are committed to growth; second, even if a particular nation were not, it would lose the war, since all other nations are committed to growth. But why is no organization or individual willing to kill to save nature? That they would probably be defeated is not the answer, because terrorist groups operate every day in support of other causes (namely, the economic development of a special-interest group), however futile. It’s not because no one believes that the environment is being damaged by human activity – many people do. Part of the answer is no doubt religious. Most people believe that killing another human being would place their mortal souls in jeopardy. They might do it in a fit of passion, or under orders (e.g., police, soldiers, executioners), or in a “holy war.” But few people are willing to do so for other reasons, even if they believe that their actions might save the lives of billions in the future. Killing one other person can sentence you to death and doom your soul to Hell for eternity; allowing all the billions of human beings and other creatures to die in a sweltering greenhouse Earth evidently carries no penalty.
Ultimately, the choice between saving the tigers and not saving the tigers is the choice whether a three-year-old Bangladeshi child lives or dies. And no one, it seems, is willing to sacrifice a single human life, or his own soul, for all of the tigers, all of the rhinos, all of the pandas, or all of the whales in the world.
Until recently, there was one section of Bangladesh that was not heavily overpopulated – the Chittagong Hill Tracts, near Burma. The rest of the country was settled by Bengalis. The Chittagong Hill Tracts were settled by other ethnic (tribal) groups (nonBengali peoples, related to Burmese tribes). So what did the Bangladesh government do? Did it take steps to keep the population density low in the one area that was lower? No way! Instead, it sent in half a million Bengali settlers into the Chittagong Hill Tracts, just as the Chinese did in Tibet. The population of Bangladesh is 120 million people, crammed into a country the size of Wisconsin. The population is growing by a couple of million a year. Did sending the half million Bengalis into the Chittagong Hill Tracts solve anything? No – a few months later the population in the rest of the country was just as high as it was before, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts are now ruined as well. All of this despite the presence of an “environmental impact” section in the country’s five-year development plan.
Mankind’s greed knows no limits; nothing is sacred. Mankind will sacrifice nature in a minute to make a profit. It is easy to understand why a desperately poor father will kill the last wild animal or cut down the last remaining rain forest, to feed his family. But greedy entrepreneurs will do this in a heartbeat, just to make a quick buck. In my previous home of North Carolina, for example, hog production has recently been introduced on a massive industrial scale. Where once were small farmers raising a few hogs, there are now gigantic hog factories, selling hogs to the world. Outside these hog factories are giant cesspools (euphemistically called “lagoons”) filled with hog excrement. Periodically, the lagoons rupture, killing all life in the streams that are choked with this rotting sewage. The stench near these industrial “farms” is overpowering.
Does America need these hog farms? Absolutely not. America’s demand for hogs could easily be filled by the previous low-intensity pig-raising methods. But with hog factories, it is possible to make big profits by selling hogs cheaply around the world. Economic efficiency dictates that since hogs can be raised more cheaply in industrial farms, that’s what should be done. The loss of nature and the stench are just “externalities” that are of no consequence. With industrial agricultural production methods such as these, it may be possible to support a population of one or two billion people in the US, not just a meager 272 million. The fact that the environment is being ruined by the industrial hog farms is of no consequence to the greedy men who will eagerly trade a pastoral North Carolina for stinking hog-excrement lagoons, just to make more money.
I recently returned from a business trip to Botswana. This land is a paradise of wildlife. Unfortunately, the human population is soaring – a population growth rate of 2.05% in 1996. At this rate, the current (1996) population of 1,480,000 will double in just 34 years. Botswana’s fragile ecology cannot take this massive increase in human population. So what is being done? Just as the US, Botswana is plundering its natural resources for export earnings. Its major export commodities are diamonds and beef. Every cow that is raised in Botswana displaces a similar wild creature, such as a kudu, bushbuck, zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, wildebeest, or buffalo. The cattle population is now 2.6 million; many are exported for money. A kudu in the wild is a magnificent sight; it is of no value, however, compared to the money earned by using its habitat to raise beef for export. Botswana, as many other countries, is in the process of selling off its natural assets – it is eating its “seed grain.” But what will happen when all of the diamonds are gone, and all of the coal is gone, and all of the kudus are gone?
The late Ernst Friedrich (“Fritz”) Schumacher understood the nature of economics. He wrote three books, Small Is Beautiful, A Guide for the Perplexed, and Good Work. He pointed out that economics ignores man’s dependence on the natural world, and he described a system of social organization that promotes a humane and sustainable relationship of man to nature. This system, which he referred to as “technology with a human face” (or “economics as if people mattered”) involves the use of low-cost methods and equipment in small-scale systems. He believed that universal prosperity cannot be accepted as the foundation for peace, because, if it is achievable at all, is attainable only by cultivating greed and envy, which destroy happiness and peace. He observed that economies of scale have transformed the world’s beautiful pre-industrial cities into massive slums filled with human misery, crime, alienation, stress, and social breakdown. Increasing city size has led to enormous problems and human degradation.
Schumacher listed four main characteristics of modern industrial society:
1. Its vastly complicated nature
2. Its continuous stimulation of, and reliance on, the deadly sins of greed, envy, and avarice
3. Its destruction of the content and dignity of most forms of work
4. Its authoritarian character, owing to organization in excessively large units.
He criticized the ever-intensified idolatry of getting rich quickly. He cited the unsurpassable ugliness of industrial society – “the mother of the bomb.” He stressed the need to move toward “an harmonious cooperation with nature rather than a warfare against nature; towards the noiseless, low-energy, elegant, and economical solutions normally applied in nature rather than the noisy, high-energy, brutal, wasteful, and clumsy solutions of our present-day sciences.”
Schumacher quoted Ghandi, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed.” He noted that growth has become the keynote of economics all over the world. He quoted Professor Walter Heller, former Chairman of the U. S. President’s Council of Economic Advisers, “I cannot conceive of a successful economy without growth.”
Observing that civilized man has despoiled most of the lands he has occupied for long, he cited the quotation, “civilized man has marched across the face of the Earth and left a desert in his footprints.”
“How did civilized man despoil this favorable environment? He did it mainly by depleting or destroying the natural resources. He cut down or burned most of the usable timber from forested hillsides and valleys. He overgrazed and denuded the grasslands that fed his livestock. He killed most of the wildlife and much of the fish and other water life. He permitted erosion to rob his farmland of its productive topsoil. He allowed eroded soil to clog the streams and fill his reservoirs, irrigation canals, and harbors with silt. In many cases, he used and wasted most of the easily mined minerals and other needed minerals. Then his civilization declined amidst the despoilation of his own creation or he moved on to new land. There have been from ten to thirty different civilizations that have followed this road to ruin.”
The only difference this time is that there is no where else to go. Modern man has filled the planet to the brim with human beings, and when he finishes off the land this time, he will have soiled the nest for all mankind for all time.
In 1981 the US National Research Council published a very interesting book (now out of print) entitled, Food, Fuel and Fertilizer from Organic Wastes. It describes small, sustainable systems of human living that produce sufficient food and fuel for human activity and recycle all of their waste. It is quite feasible for man to live in harmony with the planet’s ecology, but he has not chosen to do so.
As Eugene Rabinowitch, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, observed, “…there is no convincing proof that mankind could not survive even as the only animal species on Earth.” But is it right to do this?
Schumacher was a Christian, and he addressed this issue from a Christian viewpoint. He quoted the Bible, “And he also gave man dominion over the fish in the sea and the fowl in the air, and over every living being that moves upon the Earth.” He stated that man was given “dominion,” not the right to tyrannize, to ruin, or exterminate. He stated that for man to put himself in a wrongful relationship with animals has always been a horrible and infinitely dangerous thing to do. He cited Proverbs, in which it is written that the just man takes care of his beast, but the heart of the wicked is merciless. He observed that modern economics does not distinguish between the renewable and the nonrenewable, recognizing only differences in relative cost per “equivalent” unit. From the viewpoint of economics, the vanishing Florida panther is of no more significance than a common house cat.
Not a great deal has been written on the subject of morality and ecology. A major argument for saving the tropical forests is to preserve their biodiversity to save the unknown species that might hold a secret cure for mankind’s diseases, such as cancer. This point of view is not a moral point of view: it is based on selfishness and greed.
Many books discuss the ethics of the human population explosion and concomitant extinction of other species. In addition to Schumacher’s books, these include Farley Mowat’s Rescue the Earth!, Wendell Berry’s What Are People For?, John Leslie’s The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction, and William G. Hollingsworth’s Ending the Explosion: Population Policies and Ethics for a Humane Future.
The only book I own that is dedicated to ecology and religion is Ecology and Religion in History, edited by David and Eileen Spring (1974). Arnold Toynbee has a chapter in this book, entitled, “The Religious Background of the Present Environmental Crisis” (reprinted from a 1972 article). He discussed the relationships among God, man, and nature under the monotheistic religions in general and Christianity in particular.
Toynbee observed that Christian doctrine toward nature is summed up in the Bible verse, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the Earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). Adam and Eve were given license to do as they wished with Earth, a license to occupy natural habitat and replace its wild species, a license to use up all fossil fuels and remove all valuable minerals from the Earth, a license to overpopulate, a license to pollute, a license to create industrial toxic and radioactive waste. He also observed, in closing, that “The injunction to ‘subdue,’ which modern man has taken as his directive, is surely immoral, impractical, and disastrous.”
Rev. Mark W. Bergman pointed out to me that the assignment given by God to man to subdue the Earth took place in the “perfect” or “holy” environment in which Adam and Eve had not yet sinned. Man was offered dominion over the living creatures of Earth prior to the Fall and his banishment from the Garden of Eden.
This chapter has been about economics. Economics is the driving force that has corrupted mankind and is destroying the planet. Economics – the dismal science. As mathematician John Maynard Keynes observed (in his 1930 essay, “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”) the fatal limitations of economics as a long-term basis for human society:
“Some day we may return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue – that avarice is a vice, that the extraction of usury is a misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestable. But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little while longer.”
In the long run, as Keynes noted, we are all dead. In the long run, our sun runs out of fuel and the biological life of our solar system dies. In the long run, it does not matter a whit whether you do take a stand to protect your family, your culture, your nation. As the Teacher in Ecclesiastes states, “All is meaningless!” In the short run, however, things do matter. Life is not without meaning and purpose, but you must define the meaning and purpose. Your life will be defined by the stands that you take. As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” This planet can support human society and nature for a few more years, or it can support human society and nature for several billion years more. The choice is ours.
Economics cares nothing about the environment, ecology, biodiversity, or quality, or culture, unless you can put a price tag on them. All that matters is economic efficiency and output. If increased immigration will boost GDP, then the economist will promote it, even if it destroys the environment and our culture. It does not matter that our environment is destroyed by immigration as long as economic activity continues. The environment is nothing more than an externality. If other species can be used as food or medicines or instruments of pleasure (e.g., ecotourism), then economics places a dollar value on them; otherwise they are nothing more than externalities.
Culture means nothing to economics. Unless it can be bought and sold for a price, culture is nothing more than an “externality.” One of the most repeated arguments in favor of racial integration in US business was the “it is good for business.” To justify either segregation or integration on the basis of its economic payoff is grossly venal – a completely immoral approach.
Quality means nothing to economics. When I was young, all of the furniture I bought was solid walnut. After a while, most of the world's walnut was gone, and it was necessary to switch to solid cherry. Then solid mahogany. Then solid oak. Now, most furniture is not solid at all, but veneer and composition. This does not matter to economics. All that matters is the function and price of the item, not its quality.
The US was once sufficient in wood production. Because of massive immigration, it no longer is. More than 90% of its forests have been logged at least once. A couple of years ago I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. At that time, plans were in the offing to build a large lumber mill in western North Carolina that would harvest every privately owned hardwood tree within a hundred miles. Economics is concerned only with form, function, and fit. It is concerned only with the monetary value of things, not with intrinsic value or quality or morality.
On a business trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh a few months ago, I had breakfast with a professor of agronomy from Georgia. He told me that the price of lumber has risen so much in the United States that Georgia farmers are now replacing food crops with tree farms. In fact, it is so lucrative that the lumber firms can pay the farmer what he would have made in farming every year until the trees can be harvested. Immigration is directly responsible for our loss of self-sufficiency in wood.
When I was young, it was still possible to enjoy wild nature near many towns. The population was stable. It was still possible to own a place on a lake or river or beach, without destroying natural habitat – when someone else died, you could buy his place. Now, only the wealthy can afford lake homes and beach homes. And they are not buying old homes as old people die – they are destroying beaches and lakeshores and riverbanks and wetlands to build new homes. Because of massive immigration and development over the past 50 years, Americans have much less access to nature than they had before (since there are twice as many of them on the same size land). National and state parks are now in essence little more than crowded ecotourist theme parks. Twice as much natural land and farmland has been permanently destroyed to make room for human houses and infrastructure. Does this matter to economics? Not in any negative sense. From the economic viewpoint, it is a good thing, because it has contributed to economic activity. Lakefront and beachfront property that was of no monetary value a hundred years ago is now priced out of reach of most people. To economics, that is a tremendous advance: economic value has been created where none existed. The loss of nature is of no consequence.
Russell Mettermeier (President of Conservation International) and Peter Seligman (CI’s founder and CEO) know what the score is. In the article, “Earth’s Green Gown: Russell Mittermeier Into the Woods” in the December 14, 1998 issue of Time, Mittermeier is quoted: “I could argue for the economic value of preservation – the biotechnology that leads to the discovery of medicines and so forth, but if you push me to the wall, I’m for zero deforestation, zero extinction. I believe that we have a moral obligation to other species. The only real reason for saving them is that it is right.” We must make a choice between economic development and nature. They are diametrically opposed. We cannot have both.
The ecologist may view the extermination of a species as the permanent, tragic loss of a nonrenewable resource. To the economist, this loss is of no consequence, since a substitute can always be found. In fact, if the substitute costs more, then that is great – GDP will increase even more!
The environmental movement is doomed to failure. It has failed for the past century, and it will continue to fail. Environmentalists may continue to wring their hands over the destruction of the planet’s ecology, and continue to point out the folly of continued industrial activity. But absolutely nothing is going to result from their anguish and pleas. In the battle between economics and ecology, ecology will lose (in the short run).
Human population will continue to grow, and industrial activity will increase, and the environment will continue to be destroyed. The laws of economics require this.
The preceding chapters show that, under current conditions, human population and industrial activity will likely continue to grow without limit for as long as possible. Neither will stop unless some external factor, until now not operative, comes into play.
An earlier chapter addressed the issue of carrying capacity, and showed that the answer to the question, “What size should the human population be?” may vary widely, depending on what criteria are imposed. This chapter addresses this same question, but from a viewpoint that differs somewhat from those used before.
This chapter introduces some technical terms and concepts from the field of game theory and statistical decision theory. If you do not follow the details of the technical discussion that follows, do not be overly concerned. Basically, the thesis of this chapter is that in choosing among alternative population strategies, it is preferable to select the one that minimizes the worst that can happen, i.e., that minimizes the chance of human extinction (and planetary destruction). This approach is quite different from other approaches to population policy, that attempt to maximize human welfare or numbers with little or no regard for long-term consequences. In contrast to current population policies of all nations and major international organizations, the proposed approach is conservative and risk-averse, rather than risk-ignorant and reckless.
If you really dislike technical details, just skip the several paragraphs of the section that follows. Ordinarily, I would have placed technical material such as this in an appendix, but it is fundamental to the philosophical approach (“minimal regret”) to population policy that is introduced in this book, and I felt that it should be a part of the main text.
In mathematical terminology, the problem of determining what size the human population should be may be formulated as a “decision problem under uncertainty,” and much mathematical theory was developed about 50 years ago to solve this type of problem. The approach used in this chapter is to adopt a decision criterion which we shall refer to as the criterion of “minimal regret.” Under this criterion, a population size will be selected that, in some sense, minimizes the likelihood of a planetary catastrophe, while keeping the probability of survival of all species – human or otherwise – at a high level.
The approach used in this chapter is motivated by the decision-theoretic criterion of “minimax regret” (or minimax loss or minimax risk). This section will present a little background on decision-theoretic concepts, as motivation for the proposed approach. For additional details on decision theory, see Theory of Games and Statistical Decisions by David Blackwell and M. A. Girshick for details on decision theory. See Games and Decisions by R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa for a less technical presentation. See also Abraham Wald, Statistical Decision Functions, and Leonard J. Savage, The Foundations of Statistics, and Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John von Neumann and Oskar Morganstern.
In simple terms, a decision problem is specified by a set of states of nature (or states of the world), a set of decisions, a function that specifies the loss (or gain) that results for each possible combination of decision and state of nature, and a decision criterion, or decision rule. The loss function (gain function) is also called the objective function or the payoff function. A “decision problem under uncertainty” is a decision problem in which the state of nature is not known, although the decision-maker may have some information about the state of nature.
The decision-maker may have the opportunity to make a single decision (e.g., deciding on a population policy that may end the world), or he may get to make decisions many times (e.g., deciding which stock to buy each day). Each time he makes a decision, the outcome is specified by the loss function (or gain function).
(A decision problem under uncertainty is similar to a mathematical game. In a mathematical game, there are two or more players, each of whom may make a decision (move, action, play). A decision problem under uncertainty is similar to a two-person game in which the opponent’s decision corresponds to the “state of nature” (of the decision-under-uncertainty problem). In a game, each player makes a decision according to some decision criterion that reflects his interests. The principal difference between a decision problem and a game is that in a game the opponent’s objectives are often opposed to the player’s objectives (e.g., as in a zero-sum game), whereas in a decision problem under uncertainty this is not the case, since “nature” is considered to be neutral, and not against the decisionmaker. The problem of determining a strategy for planet Earth could be formulated as a mathematical game, but that approach is beyond the scope of this book. Formulating it as a decision problem under uncertainty is simpler, and illustrates the approach adequately.)
A “decision criterion,” or “principle of choice,” is a rule specifying what strategy a decision-maker should select to solve a decision problem under uncertainty. The decision criterion specifies the basis on which the decision-maker makes his decision, e.g., to attempt to minimize the loss. There are a number of standard decision criteria that have been used in the past, and the most important of these will be described in the following paragraphs.
A widely used decision criterion is the minimax criterion, under which the decision-maker chooses the strategy that minimizes the maximum loss that may occur. (It is also called the maximin strategy, which is the strategy that maximizes the minimum expected payoff, or gain, or “utility;” the payoff (or gain) is the negative of the loss. The term minimax is a contraction of the Latin, minumum maximorum, which means “minimum of the maximum.”)
Another popular principle of choice is Bayes’ principle, under which the decision-maker chooses the strategy that maximizes the expected gain, where he assigns subjective probabilities to the various unknown states of nature. This principle is a reasonable one if the decision-maker gets to make the decision many times (e.g., as in buying a stock).
A third principle of choice is the minimax-regret criterion. Under the minimax-regret criterion, the decision-maker minimizes the maximum “regret.” For each specified decision choice and state of nature, the “regret” is defined as the difference between the maximum gain the decision-maker can realize under that state of nature (using the best decision) and the gain for the specified decision choice and that state of nature. In other words, the regret (for a given state of nature and decision) is the additional amount that the decision-maker would have gained had he made the best decision rather than the decision that he actually made. The minimax-regret decision is the decision for which maximum regret (over all states of nature) is a minimum. (Note that regret is different from loss. Loss is the negative of the gain, or payoff, or utility. Regret is a difference in utilities, or losses.)
Under certain circumstances, the minimax and the minimax-regret decision criteria produce identical results (i.e., the same decision). In many cases both criteria produce reasonable results (decisions), but scenarios can be constructed in which either criterion has drawbacks. The mimimax-regret approach has been criticized because a difference in utility (which the regret is defined to be) may not necessarily correspond to what we generally call “regret” or “risk.” Both criteria are appropriate in a “risk averse” setting, where one or more of the states of nature may produce catastrophic loss, and it is desired very much to avoid this catastrophe, i.e., to minimize the maximum loss (or regret) that can occur. This situation is very much the case for the problem of overpopulation and industrialization, where continuing on the current course may well result in total annihilation of the biosphere. A Bayesian approach (minimizing the expected loss) is not considered appropriate here, because some of the possible outcomes are catastrophic – “the variance can kill you.” Working with expected values (means) is not considered appropriate in the present context (in which some of mankind’s decisions may lead to destruction of all life), since we may only get to play this game one time.
Population policies that attempt to maximize the number of human beings on the planet, or maximize their welfare, (at a point in time) have the tremendous drawback that they increase the likelihood of biosphere destruction (and hence human extinction). The “minimal-regret” strategy introduced in this book takes the point of view of minimizing the maximum loss (biosphere destruction). This approach is radically different from approaches that attempt to maximize human numbers or welfare. The emphasis of a minimal-regret strategy is on avoiding catastrophe (i.e., to minimize the worst that may happen), not on maximizing economic production or human pleasure.
In this book, no attempt will be made to formulate the problem of determining population size in well-defined mathematical terms. A major difference in the approach presented here and conventional theory is that no attempt is made to represent the outcome of the decision problem by a single number (the loss or gain). That is, it is recognized that the outcome of mankind's choice for the planet is multidimensional -- it involves all sorts of variables, such as the numbers of human beings, the quality of life, the level of biodiversity, risks of extinction, who rules, religion, morality, culture, value systems, the relative value of the current generation compared to future generations, the relative value of human beings compared to other life forms, and so on. The theory of decision problems involving multidimensional utility functions is not well developed, and is of little help here.
Instead of a rigid mathematical formulation, a set of criteria will be specified, and a solution will be identified that satisfies those criteria. Since the approach is similar in concept to the minimax and minimax-regret approaches of statistical decision theory, but without the mathematical formalism or a single-valued utility function, the approach will be referred to as a “minimal-regret” solution (i.e., we shall use a slightly different name). Just as the minimax and minimax-regret criteria produce decisions that minimize the maximum loss or regret, the approach presented in this chapter attempts to minimize the chance that the human species will destroy the planet (as we know it).
The criterion of “minimal regret” specifies that if one of several different possible decisions (courses of action) must be made, then select the one that, no matter what happens, the “regret” is least. "Regret" is loosely defined as the likelihood that mankind and the planet's biodiversity are destroyed. This approach may result in a result quite different from the usual approach of determining optimal population size. The objective in determining the optimal population size is to identify the largest possible population that can achieve a particular lifestyle, with the constraint that it be “sustainable,” i.e., not cause so much damage to the environment that it cannot continue indefinitely.
The very serious drawback of the optimal-population-size approach is that it does not address the issue of how much stress the environment can sustain without collapsing. It is simply hypothesized that, if there is sufficient solar or nuclear energy and land to support one billion people, that the environment can “take it,” and will “take it” indefinitely. If the environment cannot “take it,” the whole human race is destroyed. From the viewpoint of long-term survival of the human race, this is an incredibly absurd approach.
The approach of determining optimal population size is an attempt to maximize the number of human beings on the planet, while completely ignoring the possibility that mankind’s economic activity may destroy all life on the planet. It is a horribly flawed approach in which a major possibility – global destruction – is permitted. The possibility of planetary destruction is willfully recognized and accepted, and conspiratorially ignored. In contrast, the minimal-regret approach addresses the issue of planetary destruction head on, and takes it fully into account.
As described above, the minimal-regret approach to determining a global population strategy is a general framework for determining a strategy, but it has not been fully specified since the “loss function” or “objective function” has not been specified (except for the general reference to a loss of biodiversity). All that has been specified to this point is the decision criterion (minimal regret). No specification has been made as to exactly what is being maximized or minimized (i.e., the objective function). The approach cannot be implemented until goals or objectives are defined more precisely. In other words, it is not possible to determine a strategy until we have specified what goal it is that we wish to accomplish.
And there’s the rub! The major difficulty in determining a global population strategy and an answer to the question, “How many people should there be on planet Earth?” is that of deciding on the goal, or purpose, of human existence. If the purpose of human existence is to maximize the number of converts to Catholicism (or any other religion) in the twentieth century, then the current de-facto global population strategy of maximizing the total number of human beings regardless of damage to the planet’s other species or the long-term survival of the human species is appropriate. If the purpose of human existence is to glorify God by leading good lives and husbanding the planet, then the current approach is absurd. If there is no purpose to human existence, then it does not matter what the global population strategy is. In order to determine a population strategy, it is first necessary to address the value-laden question of "What people are for?". The Hebrew Torah, Christian Bible, and Islamic Koran (Quran, Qur’an, Qur’aan) shed little light on this. A basic mandate of all three religions is to honor God and treat your neighbors with respect (war excepted). The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches that all human activity is meaningless, and all that matters is to obey the Commandments. Although man was authorized (before the Fall) to “be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the Earth,” there is no mandate that the goal of mankind is to maximize the number of people on the planet, or to maximize the standard of living for human beings. On the contrary, it is stated that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.
While there is no guidance on whether mankind should attempt to maximize human population, there is the strong suggestion that destroying the Earth is not desired. The Book of Revelation states that those who destroy the Earth shall be destroyed.
This book will adopt the viewpoint that the primary, or basic, purpose of mankind is twofold: to preserve its long-term survival, and to allow the planet’s balance of nature to continue much as it has in the current geological age, i.e., to not destroy the biosphere in which mankind evolved. There may be a higher purpose for mankind, e.g., to achieve Nirvana or salvation. The adopted approach does not preclude those higher goals, but it does address the fact that if the planet is destroyed, then the achievement of those higher goals may be impossible. The adopted approach may be viewed as an attempt to identify and achieve basic goals (such as survival) that are necessary to (although not sufficient for) the achievement of higher goals. The larger issue of what particular higher goals are achieved by mankind over future history (e.g., the victory of Christendom over Islam, or of Islam over Christendom, or of democracy over other governmental forms, or the elimination of poverty or war or disease, or travel to other planets in the Galaxy) is not addressed here. The goal of the global population strategy is simply to ensure that mankind and the current biosphere have a future. What is done with that future is another issue, and not addressed in this book.
To this end, let us consider the following criteria for (goals as a basis for) determining human population size:
1. The probability of long-term survival of the human race is maintained very high (i.e., in some sense maximized).
2. Damage to the planet’s environment and ecology from human activity is kept very low (i.e., in some sense minimized).
The qualifiers “in some sense” are used because it is recognized that the planet’s ecology is very complex, and it is just about impossible to maximize or minimize any aspect of it, short of totally destroying the planet’s ecology or totally eliminating mankind.
The essential difference in the minimal-regret approach and other approaches that have been considered or proposed is that there is no attempt to maximize the human population size. Emphasis is instead on long-term survival of the human race and the planet’s ecology (i.e., of all other species), regardless of the size of the human population.
The “minimal-regret” approach differs significantly from the “minimum-population-size” approach (mentioned earlier in the chapter on carrying capacity), which was concerned with determining the minimum-sized population that could enjoy a high standard of living indefinitely. With the minimal-regret approach there is no attempt to maximize either the number of human beings or the human standard of living. The emphasis is on maximizing the likelihood of long-term survival of the human race and preserving the planet’s natural environment, not on the hedonistic goals of maximizing man’s pleasure or number.
The minimal-regret approach also differs significantly from the “optimal-population-size” approach proposed by the Optimum Population Trust. The rationale for the “optimal population size” is not at all clear. Why should there be any attempt to maximize the size of the human population at all, when the human population has been so destructive to the planet and other species and itself? The optimal population approach has the appearance of a “bribe,” or perhaps an “apologia” – if mankind would just agree to a smaller population size, then everybody could have a high standard of living. This approach appeals to man’s greed, and that may enhance its chance of acceptance. But in the attempt to maximize the human population at all, it continues to accept, indeed promote, a substantial risk of destruction of other species and the human species. The risk of species extinction (our own as well as other species) is reduced by minimizing the level of human population and economic activity, not by maximizing it!
To survive, the human race is going to have to minimize its use of energy, not maximize it. This approach is diametrically opposed to economics, which is committed to maximizing the use of energy (since that maximizes economic activity).
What about conservation? If by the term “conservation” is meant the Conservation International approach of preserving (not exploiting) nature, then conservation is fine. If what is meant, however, is being more efficient, less wasteful, and less consumptive (e.g., by recycling, or by using fuel-efficient cars, or by using public transportation), then conservation is of no value, in the context of a large or growing industrial population. With a rising population, conservation is a complete waste of time. It is worse than a waste of time. It simply delays the day of reckoning and places the planet more seriously in jeopardy. If we reduce waste levels by 10% and then increase population by 15%, we are worse off than before. And that is exactly what is happening. Once human society is in a position where it is running out of resources (land or wildlife or energy or whatever) and motivated to conserve, it is already too late. Once mankind reaches the point where it was making measurable changes to the planet, it is already too late. Primitive cultures (e.g., the American Indian, the nomadic tribes of Africa) moved to an area, depleted its resources, and then moved on. In a few hundred years, the exhausted abandoned land was rejuvenated, and could accept new human inhabitants. Modern man stays put. After he destroys the land, he does not move on. The environment is never rejuvenated. This system will never work.
While there may be many solutions to the minimal-regret approach to determining human population size, the following is one possible solution:
Candidate minimal-regret population: A global human population of 5 million hunter-gatherers and a single industrialized country of 5 million.
The “candidate minimal-regret population” consists, first, of a very-low-density global population of hunter-gatherers. Why 5 million? Because it appears from archeological evidence that the planet was able to support about 5 million hunting-gathering human beings for hundreds of thousands of years, without causing substantial changes to the biosphere. (In How Many People Can the Earth Support?, Cohen discusses estimates of prehistoric global human population sizes; accepted estimates include the ranges 5-10 million and 2-20 million. Cohen accepts the range 2-20 million as credible. We shall use the range 2-20 as an interval estimate and the figure 5 million as a point estimate. See also Lynn Collins’ article, “World Population,” in International Encyclopedia of Population.) There is justification for believing this to be a sustainable level, because it proved to be so for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of years. This belief is based on actual experience, not on conjecture. Since there are about 12.5 billion hectares of habitable land on the planet, a population of 5 million corresponds to a density of about four people per hundred square kilometers. This is about what the population and population density of human hunter-gatherers was believed to be in prehistoric times.
If 5 million, why not a larger number, such as 10 million or 20 million or 100 million? Well, the evidence is that Earth sustained about 2-20 million hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years, not 100 million. Hence 10 million or even 20 million is supportable by experience, but there is no strong experiential evidence that 100 million human beings existed for hundreds of thousands of years. Since there is no need for additional people there is no reason to “take a chance” with a larger number. It seems safest to take a number low in the range 2-20, and the number 5 was selected for that reason.
If 5 million, why not a smaller number, such as 1 million, or a hundred thousand? Two reasons: First, the evidence is that a human population size of 2-10 million was sustainable, not one million, not 100 thousand. As the population size decreases or becomes more localized, the chance of extinction increases. To maximize the probability of survival of the human species, it seems prudent to restrict the population size to an established (or accepted) sustainable size (2-20 million), rather than some other, unproven, level, and to spread it over the Earth.
Another question: why restrict the worldwide human population to hunter-gatherers? Why not consider primitive agriculture (i.e., preindustrial, “organic-gardening” agriculture without the use of industrial chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers)? The answer is twofold. First, primitive agriculture lasted only 10,000 years, not hundreds of thousands of years, before it evolved into industrial agriculture. There is, then, far less experiential evidence that a global agricultural human society is sustainable. Second, agriculture has been very destructive of other species. With the domestication of wild animals, entire species were eliminated (e.g., the aurochs). Massive areas of forest were cleared, resulting in the extermination of local species. Even primitive agriculture is a sufficiently advanced mode of economic activity to enable massive civilizations (e.g., the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans) to arise, with their resultant plundering and destruction of nature.
It is possible that human society could thrive in a sustainable fashion with primitive agriculture; it is perhaps too soon to dismiss it as a feasible alternative. The main reason against it is that, although it may be sustainable, it is more destructive than hunter-gatherer society, and for what good purpose? Also, it would be more difficult to manage a planet of primitive agriculturalists than a planet of hunter-gatherers, since agriculturalists are more organized (a higher level of development). In order to accept the greater difficulty and higher level of risk associated with primitive agriculture, it would have to be clear that the benefits outweighed the increased difficulty and risk.
So much for the low-density global population of 5 million hunter-gatherers. Now, what about the second component of the candidate minimal-regret population -- the single industrialized country of 5 million? The reason for specifying a small industrialized country in addition to the global hunter-gatherer population is that, now that technology is “out of the bag,” there is no reason to believe that a hunter-gatherer population of 5 million would not (quickly) evolve to an agricultural society, and then to an industrial society, and then once again to extreme size. The purpose of the single industrial country is to restrict the size of the hunting-gathering population to 5 million. This is done by destroying any evidence of economic activity, such as the development of farms or large villages.
Why a single industrialized country of 5 million, and not two or more? Because if there are two or more, there is a strong incentive to grow. The strength of a nation is proportional to its level of economic activity. At a given level of development, its strength is proportional to its population. If there are two industrialized nations on the planet, each will attempt to grow in size (population and economy) in an attempt to maximize its security. With a single industrialized nation, there is an absence of modern war. With two or more countries, war is inevitable.
Why the size 5 million for the single industrialized country? This number is speculative. The desired size is the smallest size that can support an industrial society capable of restricting the rest of the planet to a hunting-gathering mode. If a single nation of one million could do the job, then the desired size of the industrial society would be one million. If the minimum sustainable size of an industrial society is 10 million, then the desired size is 10 million. In any event, the desired size is the minimal possible size of an industrial society, because of the large amount of waste generated by an industrial society. The minimal size of an industrial society is not presently known. The value 5 million is a “rough guess.” Maybe one million could do the job. Maybe 20 million is required. The issue of determining the minimal sustainable size of an industrial population requires further analysis.
A final point, to elaborate on something that was discussed briefly above. What is the purpose of having a hunter-gatherer society at all? Why not just have a single industrialized population of five million, or other minimum sustainable size, as in the "minimum population" approach. As mentioned earlier, the purpose of the hunter-gatherer society is to increase the odds of long-term survival of the human race. Any population that is very localized -- and a small industrial population will be localized -- is in danger of extinction. In the case of a single industrial population of five million, a few nuclear weapons or an asteroid could easily extinguish the entire population. Having a hunter-gatherer population distributed around the globe significantly promotes the likelihood that the human race will survive this type of catastrophe.
In other words, the hunter-gatherer population and the industrialized populations need each other. They form a symbiotic relationship. The small, industrialized population keeps the size of the hunter-gatherer population (and hence global human population) in check; the hunter-gatherer population is insurance against catastrophic destruction of all mankind. The hunter-gatherer population also provides the industrialized population with a raison d'être. Preserving mankind and a Garden-of-Eden balance of nature on Earth may be a reasonable mission or goal statement, but it is too general for use as an operational objective. Maintaining a hunter-gatherer population in check is a specific, tangible objective -- a reason for getting up each morning and going to work.
The primary objective in specifying the size of the industrial and hunter-gatherer populations is to minimize the amount of energy controlled by mankind, and to let nature do its job in maintaining a Garden-of-Eden balance. This is totally the opposite of the current approach of attempting to maximize the amount of energy controlled by mankind. Instead of using 40-50% of the energy produced by photosynthesis for man’s exclusive purposes, the goal would be to utilize a minimal amount, say 1% or less, for man’s purposes. Mankind got into trouble when its numbers and activity increased to the point at which it started making measurable changes to the planet’s environment. The minimal-regret population would return control of the planet’s ecosystem to nature, with minimal interference from man.
The role of the industrial society of 5 million is planetary management. The current approach of having 229 countries, each champing at the bit to grow in economic size or population size or both, is a complete disaster. It is the same as having a ship with 229 captains – 229 greedy, venal captains! Recent experience has shown that the current system – permissive, undisciplined, economics-based – is making planetary-level changes in the planet’s atmosphere and biosphere, to the point where the continued existence of the biosphere as we know it is jeopardized.
With respect to the global hunter-gatherer population, the candidate population size has been proven by experience to be sustainable. But the addition of the 5 million industrial population introduces an aspect that was not a part of long-term human history. The question arises as to whether an industrial society of 5 million is sustainable. It may be or it may not be. Without it, however, the global hunter-gatherer population would surely develop and grow. There is a risk associated with any level of industrialization, but the candidate population minimizes that risk by setting the size of the industrial population as low as possible.
For simplicity, the “candidate minimal regret population” of 5 million industrialized human beings and 5 million hunter-gatherers might be referred to as a “5-5” or “double-nickel” population (or population policy). It is important to recognize, however, that the sizes of 5 million industrial human beings and 5 million hunter-gatherers are somewhat arbitrary, although they are of the right order of magnitude.
The candidate minimal-regret population puts an immediate halt to large-scale industrial activity. It restores the planet’s biosphere as close as possible to the way it was prior to the massive changes brought about by agriculture and industrialization. It reduces the likelihood of an industrially induced planetary disaster (e.g., greenhouse-gas disaster, biodiversity “meltdown”) to a low, near-preindustrial level. It raises the likelihood of mankind’s survival back to what it has been for hundreds of thousands of years. It saves the planet for future generations. It bequeaths the same planet to each future generation. It rejects the notion that this planet is the chattel of the current generation to destroy for all time. It accomplishes all of these desirable outcomes. It restores to all other species the freedom and ability to continue to exist. All that is denied to mankind is the freedom to propagate to the limit and to destroy all earthly species, including itself.
Many people do not realize how high the quality of life is in a hunting-gathering society. Robert Heilbroner discusses this in his book, Visions of the Future: The Distant Past, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Quoting economist Vernon Smith, he observes that ever since Thomas Hobbes there has prevailed the perception that life in hunting-gathering societies was (to quote Hobbes) “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” but that this perception is quite incorrect. Hobbes’ contention was that the desire for power leads to a state of nature where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Hunting-gathering life was, in fact, relatively easy – hunter-gatherers were the original affluent society. Although people did not have much in the way of material possessions, no one was poor. Poverty is a social condition that was created by civilization. It is desire for power, enabled by agriculture and industry, that leads to inhuman conditions, not natural life in a hunter-gatherer society.
This is a very important point. Poverty and its associated human misery are caused by civilization, by economic development, by industrial activity. Poverty does not exist in a hunter-gatherer society. Man lives in balance with nature, and there is good physical, mental, and emotional health. The UN, World Bank, and other economic development organizations call incessantly for more economic development. They have created a religion of development, playing on people’s fear and greed. They deceive and seduce, insisting that human welfare can be improved only with increased economic development, empowerment, and elimination of inequality. They cite all sorts of maxims and platitudes, such as “Development that perpetuates today’s inequalities is neither sustainable nor worth sustaining,” or “Short-term advances in human development are possible – but they will not be sustainable without further growth. Conversely, economic growth is not sustainable without human development,” or “Human development and economic growth should move together, strongly linked” (UN Human Development Report 1966). Tell a big enough lie, and people will believe it. Economic development is not the solution to human misery, it is the cause of it. To eradicate poverty, it is necessary to get rid of economic and industrial development. More development will inevitably lead to more poverty and human misery. Human misery exists on a massive scale because industrial development exists on a massive scale. To reduce the level of human misery, it will be necessary to reduce the level of industrial development.
The Economist (“The Sea: A Second Fall,” May 23, 1998) seconds this viewpoint. It equates the eviction of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden with the end of hunter-gatherer society. It is agricultural and industrial society that is harsh and brutal, not hunting-gathering society. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and dust you will return.” The Economist observes that farming was the antithesis of nomadic life, with rotten teeth and stunted bones replacing healthy bodies.
Society’s leaders promote civilization (and economic development) not because it provides a better life for the masses. It does not. It provides misery for the masses. Leaders promote civilization because social organization provides a level of wealth and power to the leaders which is not possible in a hunter-gatherer society. And that is why world leaders will fight to save worldwide civilization and promote globalization at any cost. Not because it helps people, but because it furnishes luxury to those in control, even though at tremendous cost – lifetimes of misery – to billions. That civilization will eradicate poverty and human misery is one of the greatest lies ever perpetrated on the human race. That “the poor are always with you” is an unavoidable byproduct of civilization.
The common perception today – a myth – is that the destruction of industrial civilization would be a terrible thing, the ruin of mankind. The fact is, industrial society has been the ruination of mankind. Man evolved as a hunter-gatherer, and it is a natural, hunter-gatherer existence that serves him well. “Back to the Stone Age” should be perceived as a rallying cry to a better life. Man was banished from a hunting-gathering existence to an agricultural one, not the other way around. Returning mankind to a hunting-gathering lifestyle will not only save the planet from destruction, it will free billions of people from grinding poverty as well.
From a theological perspective, the Bible is replete with the destruction of cities, tribes, nations, and civilizations – even the entire antediluvian world. Sodom, Gomorrah, Babylon, Rome – even Jerusalem – all have fallen. Civilizations rise and civilizations fall. That is the natural process. They rise when they are motivated, disciplined, dynamic, principled, united, and have a sense of destiny and purpose. They fall when they become decadent, dissolute, profligate, prodigal, and lose their sense of purpose. Significant civilizations and cultures meet their demise by war and conquest, not by assimilation – by revolution rather than evolution. Modern (industrialized) civilization is destroying the planet, wasting its bounty in the ceaseless accumulation of material wealth and insatiable pursuit of pleasure. The US is replacing the absolute morality of Christianity with relativistic inclusiveness, permissiveness and tolerance. Western Civilization and the US have replaced the religion of Christianity with the religion of economics. “In God We Trust” is out, and economics is in. Economics is the religion of the modern, industrialized world. Economics is its system of morality, and industrial development is the graven image that it has created. It is time to take heed that “those who destroy the Earth will be destroyed.”
Heilbroner discusses conditions for long-term survival of humankind. The first is the achievement of a secure terrestrial base for life. “The Earth must be lovingly maintained, not consumed nor otherwise despoiled. The atmosphere, the waters, and the fertility of the soil must be protected against poisoning of any kind from human activities. The population of the globe must be stabilized at levels easily accommodated to the Earth’s carrying capacity under technological and social conditions that we – and presumably they – would find agreeable.” He notes that the attainment of this civilizational advance is impossible, since it entails the absence of any socio-economic order whose continuance depends on ceaseless accumulation.
Heilbroner believes that for civilization to advance, the world must be made safe from war. He cites two ways in which this may be done: The first is effective global government, and the second is its abolition. He views the second alternative (a denationalized world of independent settlements, villages, and communities) as practical if mankind engages in a global war that destroys nations and leaves large areas uninhabitable. He views the first alternative (world government) a feasible approach if a catastrophic global war does not occur. The minimal-regret paradigm described in this book is in a sense a hybrid of both approaches: a single, small national government that maintains the rest of the world in a hunter-gatherer mode (of denationalized, independent settlements).
The preceding chapter specifies a human population that promotes the probability of survival of the human species, at minimal damage to the planetary ecosystem, but it does not discuss a means or a timing for accomplishing this population.
This chapter addresses the issue of timing. Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management includes data on deforestation. In 1950, 30% of the Earth’s land area was covered by forests, half of which was tropical forest. By 1975, the area covered by tropical forest had been cut in half, to 12%. By the year 2000, it is estimated that tropical forests will cover just 5% of the land. At this rate of destruction, all tropical forests will be destroyed early in the next century.
World Resources 1998-1999 presents a table, “Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse and Ozone-Depleting Gasses, 1965-96.” This table indicates that the concentration of carbon dioxide has risen from the preindustrial level of 260.0 parts per million (ppm) to 319.9 ppm in 1965 and 362.6 ppm in 1996. This concentration is increasing at the rate of almost .5% per year. Carbon dioxide concentrations are caused by burning of fossil fuels and forests. Each year the concentration of this greenhouse gas increases, as the human species continues its relentless destruction of irreplaceable fossil fuels and wildlife habitat. This destruction will not stop until a dramatic reduction is made in human population and industrial activity.
Mankind’s industrial activity is causing changes at a horrific rate. The rate of change will increase even faster as undeveloped countries industrialize. In view of the fact that the consequences of these changes will be catastrophic, as radical as it may seem, human population and industrial activity must be reduced dramatically and immediately in order for the planet to survive. There is no known reason for waiting. With every passing year there is less biodiversity left to save.
As Walt Kelly’s cartoon character Pogo once observed, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” What is causing the severe problems in the Earth’s biosphere is man’s presence in large numbers. The human species, with economics as a catalyst, has infested the planet. It has grown like a cancer to the point where it is killing many species and, if it continues, will kill both itself and the rest of the biosphere. It is a parasite killing its host. The time to treat this disease is long overdue.
This chapter discusses the likelihood of nuclear war.
During the past several decades, from the end of World War II (1945) to the demise of the Soviet Union (1991), the world political situation was relatively stable. The Cold War involved two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a nuclear standoff. Neither side wanted nuclear war, and it never happened. The defense strategy was Mutual Assured Destruction, or MAD. Both sides possessed thousands and then tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Since there was no effective defense against a massive ballistic missile attack, both sides were convinced that attacking the other would be tantamount to committing suicide.
And nuclear war never happened.
The situation has changed now. A book on the subject is The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, by Samuel P. Huntington. The journal Foreign Affairs contains many articles on the subject. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there remains one world superpower, the United States. Both sides are in the process of reducing the sizes of their nuclear stockpiles from the current level of 36,000 warheads (19,775 operational) to just a few thousand. See Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998 by William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Joshua Handler of the Natural Resources Defense Council for a discussion of current nuclear weapon stockpiles and nuclear disarmament.
The breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War have reduced the risk of a deliberate nuclear war between the United States and Russia, since much of the animosity is gone. Looking at the world as a whole, however, the situation is more dangerous than ever before. The number of nations possessing nuclear weapons has increased by two, with the addition of Pakistan and India. The level of control over the weapons of the former Soviet Union has been reduced. The level of control over fissionable material from which nuclear bombs can be made has also been reduced. With each passing year, the amount of fissionable material in the world increases. With each passing year, the resentment of the world’s poor nations and cultures for the rich nations increases, as they realize that they will never catch up. With each passing year, the anger of Islamic nations and cultures against Western culture grows. Terrorism is increasing. Although the risk of a large-scale ballistic missile war may have decreased, the likelihood of a small nuclear war appears to have increased dramatically. Motive, means, and opportunity. All three prerequisites for action are set.
The atomic bomb was used as soon as it was available. In fact, it was used by the US at a point in World War II when the war was clearly won. In view of the fact that a “moral” nation such as the US had no compunctions about using nuclear weapons “just to bring the war to an end a little quicker,” it is obvious that any nation that is in serious danger of losing a war would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against its enemies, if it had them.
The seven “nuclear” powers – US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, and Pakistan – possess thousands of nuclear weapons among them. The following table is taken from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s publication, Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998, by William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Joshua Handler.
Country No. of Warheads
United States 12,070
In addition, it is now estimated (Jane’s Intelligence Review) that India has 20-60 nuclear weapons, and Pakistan between 6 and 12. India is estimated to have sufficient commercial reactor fuel to build at least 390 nuclear weapons and perhaps as many as 470.
As discussed earlier, it is now an easy matter for any motivated group to assemble an atomic bomb. It is just a matter of time before nuclear weapons are used, either in a formally declared war or in a “terrorist” attack.
What would be accomplished by a nuclear war? If the planet continues to be governed by scores or hundreds of countries after the war, nothing will have changed. Mankind will simply rebuild its destroyed cities, and human population and industrial activity will continue as before. The ultimate size of the population will be no more affected than it was by the “black plague,” that killed a third of Europe’s population in the middle ages – the population quickly rebounded, and soared even higher as though nothing had happened.
A nuclear war – small or large – will by itself accomplish nothing. It will not solve the population problem at all. If, however, the result of a nuclear war were the replacement of 229 world governments by a single world government, there could be some hope of solving the problem. In this case, it would be feasible to achieve the minimal-regret population discussed in the preceding chapter.
The likelihood of nuclear warfare in the future appears high. With respect to the likely damage a nuclear war might cause, a principal issue to address is what the likely intentions of an initiator of a nuclear war might be: to cause damage to another country (e.g., a terrorist attack on a single US city); to destroy another country (e.g., a war between India and Pakistan); or an attempt to take over the world (e.g., a ballistic-missile attack by China against the rest of the world).
There are two paradigms for world peace. One is a world government of nations, such as the League of Nations or the United Nations. That paradigm has been tried for over half a century, and has proved totally feckless. The other paradigm is a single nation in charge of the world. With but a single nation, war between nations cannot happen. Whether that paradigm will prevail remains to be seen.
World “peace” – in an absolute sense meaning the total absence of organized conflict – is evidently an unachievable goal for mankind. A more realistic goal may be some sort of semi-stable equilibrium involving a controlled level of conflict. All plant and animal species have birth rates that exceed replacement levels, else they would soon become extinct. The population sizes of all species would “explode” were it not for the “balance of nature” that keeps population sizes in equilibrium. Any species that proliferates is doomed to a rapid, “catastrophic” population collapse. Technological man can temporarily upset the balance of nature and fill the planet with billions of human beings, but this cannot last. If nature’s other species do not keep the human population in check, then mankind will perform this function itself, through war (organized conflict – “collective killing for a collective purpose,” in the words of John Keegan). In the absence of “natural” control of mankind’s numbers, war is inevitable. And as the human population explodes, the likelihood and the magnitude of war must explode as well. War, war, and more war – that is what is in mankind’s future.
For technological man, nature no longer controls population size, and peace cannot occur without the population reductions of war. Peace and war are as inseparable as yin and yang. They are natural complements – one does not occur without the other. The world’s industrialized nations and development organizations suggest that economic development will eliminate poverty, bring about population stability, and lead to peace. Quite the opposite is true: economic development has caused human poverty on a grand scale, it has caused the human population to explode, and it will cause war on a grand scale. Economic development sows the seeds of its own destruction.
What are the odds that a “minimal-regret” war will occur, and a minimal-regret population established? I’m not sure about the odds that a minimal-regret population will be established, but I believe strongly that a nuclear war is inevitable. The reason for this conviction is the “politics of envy” – the desire of a “have-not” group to destroy an opponent who is better off, even if by doing so his own position is unchanged or even worsened. The politics of envy is a principal motivation of terrorist groups who attack the United States. With the proliferation of nuclear-weapon technology and weapons-grade fissionable material, it is just a matter of time until a terrorist group decides to use nuclear weapons against US cities. The US has lost control of its borders, and has accepted immigrants from all cultures into all levels of its society. It is very vulnerable.
Under the “politics of greed” – the use of politics to acquire more for yourself regardless of the effect on your opponent, it may be in the best interest of all groups to avoid nuclear war. That was the basis for the decades-long Cold War, in which neither the US nor the Soviet Union used nuclear weapons. Both would lose more than they gained. Under the politics of greed, mutually assured destruction (MAD) works as a deterrent to war. Under the politics of envy, MAD is essentially irrelevant. What matters most is destruction of the opponent, at any cost. MAD will not save the US now that the nuclear jinn is out of the bottle, and the world is filled with unhappy have-nots with access to nuclear technology.
Books on the state of the world with respect to nuclear warfare include The Greenhouse Book of the Nuclear Age, Nuclear Madness by Helen Caldicott. For technical information on the effects of nuclear weapons, consult The Effects of Nuclear Weapons (highly technical, now out of print) by the US Department of Defense / US Atomic Energy Commission, or The Effects of Nuclear War (a much less technical summary) by the Office of Technology Assessment. Other books on the effects of nuclear weapons include Hiroshima by John Hersey and Nuclear Disaster by Tom Stonier. For discussion of strategy in nuclear warfare, consult On Thermonuclear War by Herman Kahn and books on game theory and statistical decision theory (a few are listed in the bibliography).
It is not very difficult to make a plutonium bomb. It is not simple, but any dedicated group with funding can acquire the engineering expertise to accomplish it. In today’s world, building the bomb is the easy part. The most difficult part is obtaining the fissionable material (plutonium or uranium) for the bomb. Although still difficult, this is becoming easier and easier. Libya and Iraq have made concerted efforts to acquire plutonium for nuclear weapons. It is just a matter of time until they succeed.
On January 13, 1999, the documentary television program 60 Minutes II broadcast a program about the manufacturing of plutonium in Krasnoyarsk-26, Siberia, Russia. Krasnoyarsk is an underground complex – hidden deep in a mountain – containing a nuclear reactor that produces a half ton of plutonium a year. It is not the only such facility. One-half ton of plutonium is an amount sufficient to make 100 nuclear bombs a year, or one every three days. Since its inception, the Krasnoyarsk facility has produced 40 tons of plutonium – sufficient to make 10,000 nuclear bombs.
So what’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is that Russia is broke, and the workers at Krasnoyarsk have not been paid for three months. They need to keep the reactor operating, in order to provide energy for the city outside the mountain. They have no money, and they are quite upset. The US has agreed to pay some of the cost of operation of the facility, but Russia insists now that the US pay the full bill. The point to this situation is that there is a lot of plutonium in the world, with more being manufactured every day. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bankruptcy of Russia, it is just a matter of time until “rogue” nations and terrorist groups that want plutonium will have it. It is just a matter of time until they have a lot of bombs. It is just a matter of time until a full-fledged nuclear war. The next big terrorist action against New York City will not be some dynamite or ANFO against the World Trade Center – it will be a suitcase bomb that decimates the entire city!
America, wake up!
An important factor determining whether a nuclear war might occur (of any type – single terrorist action, one country against another, or one country against all) is what would be the likelihood of success, in terms of damage rendered against the enemy and damage sustained. This factor is important whether the attack is motivated by the politics of envy, or by the politics of greed, or by some other motivation (e.g., religion). This book will explore this factor further, by examining the level of damage that can be caused by a small nuclear war.
More specifically, the chapters that follow will assess the feasibility of achieving a minimal-regret population by means of a nuclear war. Attention will center on a war effected by manually placed bombs, rather than one effected by ballistic missiles. The former war type of war is considered more likely, and it is definitely easier to analyze (since it involves a simple delivery system and no defense).
At the risk of belaboring a point, I wish to explicitly state that I am not advocating or promoting a nuclear war to solve the “population problem.” Rather, I believe that nuclear war is inevitable, and that in the context of the new (post-Cold War) world order, it is likely to happen soon. The key issue to address is what to do when it happens. When it does happen, the human population may return to “business as usual,” proceed to overpopulate the world again, end up in the same situation as it finds itself today, and have another global war. (Note that it will not at all be “business as usual” after the war, because mankind has now used up most of the fossil fuels and easy-to-extract minerals. The next cycle, taking place in an energy-poor, resource-poor environment, will be hard times on planet Earth.) The minimal-regret population policy represents one strategy for breaking out of this cycle. If it is implemented, the planet’s ecology will be saved and the human population, at a modest size that exists in harmony with the rest of the biosphere, will have the time to figure out what its purpose is and develop a long-range survival plan.
Note that, by having identified the minimal-regret attack strategy (in this book), it is indeed possible that the chance that a “rogue nation” or other group may adopt it as the attack strategy when it initiates a nuclear war. I have no problem with this. In my view, if nuclear war is inevitable, the issue of which nuclear war strategy is “best” (or at least preferable) must be addressed, and the issue of what to do in the postattack context must be addressed. When nuclear war happens, I would prefer that the attacker choose the minimal-regret strategy over an alternative strategy that does not have a low likelihood of planetary destruction.
Ever since the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ethics of nuclear war have been discussed. See, for example, Nuclear Ethics by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.; Has Man a Future? by Bertrand Russell; The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction by John Leslie (some strange “scientific” assertions, but interesting ethics); the writings of Amitai Erzioi on the positive value of war; or the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Classic works on the ethics of war (or politics) also include Sun Tzu, The Art of War; Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince; Plato, The Republic, and Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan. And, of course, the Torah, the Bible and the Koran.
With respect to ethical considerations, this book (and the minimal-regret criterion) places strong importance on preserving the planet’s biosphere, and does not place a higher value on the lives of the current living than on those of future generations. The loss of the six billion current inhabitants of Earth is viewed as an inconsequential price to pay, if that is what is required to save the planet for future use, enjoyment and fulfillment by other living creatures for the next four billion years (the expected remaining lifetime of our solar system). The current wanton destruction of Earth by mankind is viewed as a morally repugnant action of grotesque proportions. Mankind has been given dominion over the planet, and in his venal prodigality has chosen to squander its bounty and destroy its irreplaceable biological diversity.
If the morality of nuclear war is to be considered, the morality of destroying a planet and all its species by overpopulation and industrialization must also be considered. Works on this subject include Fritz Schumacher’s books and the plethora of books on environmentalism, including Healing the Planet by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Rescue the Earth! by Farley Mowat, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth by J. E. Lovelock, The End of Nature by Bill McKibben, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management by Norman Myers, ed., and many more, some of which are listed in the bibliography.
Although a minimal-regret nuclear war may kill almost six billion people, that must be balanced against the very real possibility that not having such a war may not only result in the deaths of six billion people, but also the extinction of mankind and the extinction of all other species on the planet (from the greenhouse effect).
If the human race is made extinct by the greenhouse effect, millions of people will have been denied life for every year of the next four billion years that the solar system is expected to last. If the Earth can support ten million people indefinitely, that represents forty quadrillion person-years of life. Is that amount of human life inconsequential compared to the lives of the mere six billion that occupy the planet today?
In the 1960s, I worked for a while in the field of post-nuclear-attack civil-defense analysis, developing postattack countermeasures (vulnerability analysis, decontamination, postattack medical problems). Life will continue after a nuclear attack. This situation will occur, and it must be dealt with. It may be dealt with in an unprepared, unplanned way, or it may be approached with a plan. With a plan, the odds of prevailing are much better.
The situation is analogous to designing an ocean liner. No one wants the liner to hit an iceberg – that is a horrible catastrophe. There are, however, two ways of approaching this possibility. The issue may be ignored, and all hands will go down with the ship unless another ship is nearby for rescue. Or, the liner may be equipped with lifeboats and an evacuation plan. In the case of the Titanic, for example, it has been observed that if, after striking the iceberg the liner had stopped, it may have been possible to place many people on the iceberg, and thereby save them. But the Titanic continued to sail into open ocean, and sank twelve miles from the iceberg. The Titanic had few lifeboats and no plan, and much life was lost.
The present approach of the United States government of simply ignoring the possibility of strategic nuclear war, abandoning its population and letting it deal with the postattack situation as best it can is unconscionable. With respect to a nuclear attack on the US, the US government is an ostrich with its head in the sand. It is a prime manifestation of the country’s complete lack of a sense of purpose or destiny. It has lost its bearings. It does not know what its purpose is or where it is headed. It lives only for the present, in a mindless, purposeless, hedonistic frenzy of economic development. It chooses to invest its energies in gluttony, gorging itself on energy, expanding its population to the max regardless of the consequences for itself or the planet, rather than in planning for or preparing for the future. Other nations, such as the Swiss, have made at least some attempt to deal with this problem. Those who plan for the future may still die, but they can certainly increase their chance of survival. It is prudent to do so. It is responsible to do so.
As much as the US government and many environmentalist movements would lead you to believe, nuclear war will not be the end of the world. On the contrary, it may well be the salvation of the world. The will to survive is indomitable in the human spirit, and the survivors will fight to live. After a nuclear war mankind will simply “pick up the pieces” and start to rebuild industrial civilization all over again. As in previous history, it is likely that economics would continue to be the “driver” of man’s progress. If this happens, nothing changes, and the world will simply repeat its present history and race to Armageddon. A minimal-regret strategy offers a possible way to break out of this cycle, to do things differently in the future. It deserves consideration along with other strategies with dealing with the situation before and after the impending nuclear war.
Everything is a matter of alternatives. Before embarking on any course of action, it is prudent to consider a wide range of alternatives and select the best one. A minimal-regret strategy represents a potential solution that is not perfect. It has advantages and disadvantages. To date, the present strategy – the tolerant, pluralistic, permissive approach of letting each of the 229 nations of Earth do its own thing – has been a disaster. It is a terrible strategy that is destroying the biosphere, the human species, and other species. Time is running out for the human race. It is high time to consider other alternatives that afford a better chance of long-term survival.
For the past 50 years, the situation has been talk, talk, talk. Current population policies are a disaster. The international development agencies (UN, World Bank) and developed countries have not contributed to the solution of the population problem and environmental destruction, but have exacerbated it. That is understandable. UN, World Bank, and other development officials are paid fat salaries to attend meetings and talk; there is no incentive to accomplish anything. The economic incentive is to create an ever more complex system of rights, with more monitoring, reporting, evaluation, analysis, and bureaucracy. They attend a never-ending stream of meetings and international conferences. They talk and talk about women’s rights, “gender” issues, children’s rights, minority rights, refugee rights, and democracy while the world disintegrates around them. They thrive on poverty and misery, and do nothing about it.
Well, there aren’t going to be any women’s rights or children’s rights or minority rights after a nuclear war, and a nuclear war is just around the corner. There isn’t going to be any democracy when the world political system collapses. These people – our leaders and advisors to leaders -- are living in an ephemeral, chimerical, imaginary dream world that has existed for a few decades, but it cannot and will not continue. They are not facing reality and dealing with the problem. They feed on people’s fear of war. They propose peace at any cost. They are living in la-la land, telling fairy tales and singing lullabies that people want to hear.
This pap may be pleasant to hear, but it does nothing to solve the problem. As Malcolm X said, “This is part of what’s wrong with you. You do too much singing. Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging.” The situation will not improve until it is accepted that the current course is leading to disaster, and war is declared against the enemy – uncontrolled human population and unconstrained industrial development. The situation will not improve until a stand is taken, and war is declared against this enemy of the biosphere. The American government has no desire to stop economic growth – it is committed, dedicated, devoted and addicted to it. It has sacrificed the future of the world to the religion of economics, to the god Mammon. Moreover, the US government no longer has the will to wage war, because wars cause casualties, and the US is no longer willing to sustain casualties. As noted in the January 2, 1999 issue of The Economist, “Some American officers, especially the older ones, have their misgivings. They say that a system of war built on a wish to destroy the enemy without yourself suffering any significant number of casualties is inherently dangerous. …but the men will still need to be there, to occupy some vital hilltop or essential building, and they will have to be prepared to take the consequences."
This chapter examines several different types of low-intensity nuclear war. By the term “low-intensity nuclear war” is meant a war involving 1,000 or less nuclear bombs – a small fraction of the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by the world’s nuclear powers. This size war could readily be accomplished, for example, by a “rogue nation” or terrorist group of small size, using 1,000 suitcase-sized atomic bombs.
The first issue to address is: how much damage can be caused by 1,000 atomic bombs? We shall answer this question by making a number of simplifying assumptions. The reason for these assumptions is to keep the analysis as “visible” as possible, and to keep the discussion at a low level of technical detail, so that no sensitive military information is disclosed.
It is assumed that the objective of the war is either to destroy population or industrial capacity, but not military facilities. To analyze the effects of a nuclear attack against population or industrial capacity, we compiled a list of all of the cities of the world having populations of 100,000 or more. Such a list is given in the 1993 UN Demographic Yearbook. We have also included all capital cities of countries, even though those cities may have populations of less than 100,000. The Demographic Yearbook does not contain data for all countries. It excludes the countries of North Korea and Taiwan. It also excludes Anguilla, Aruba, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Mayotte, Nauru, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Togo, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna Islands, Seychelles, and West Bank and Gaza. The populations of these cities were taken from the 1994 Rand McNally World Atlas. Whenever available, the city population used was the “metro area” population of the city and surrounding urban areas. If this population was not available, the “statutory” population was used.
The complete city list contains 3,385 cities. A portion of this list is presented in Appendix H. The list of Appendix H presents the city name and population for all 332 cities having population of one million or more. In addition to population, the city list (and the truncated list of Appendix H) contains several other variables that are described and used in Appendix G.
The 3,385 cities of the city list have a total population of 1,639,584,000, or approximately 1.6 billion people. The total world population is 6 billion, of which 46%, or 2.76 billion, is classified as urban (World Development Report 1998/99 figure for 1997). Hence the city list includes about 58% of the planet’s urban population.
Appendix G presents figures that describe the statistical properties of the city list. Those figures will not be described here. The main conclusion to be noted from the analysis of the city sizes is that a large proportion of the city population is contained in a small proportion of the cities. This is true worldwide, and it is true for most countries as well. The defense implication of this observation is that the world’s urban population is very vulnerable to destruction from nuclear attack. A relatively small number of nuclear weapons can do a great deal of damage.
Appendix G examines the vulnerability of the world’s cities to nuclear attack. Specifically, it examines the damage that is caused for four different types of attack. Each attack corresponds to a different objective, or “payoff function.” In the first attack, population is targeted, i.e., the objective is to destroy as much human population as possible. The payoff function in this case is the total population of the targeted cities. For the second attack, the objective is to destroy as much industrial capacity as possible. This is accomplished by targeting cities that have a high commercial energy consumption. The third attack targets cities in countries, such as Brazil, that have a high level of biodiversity (with the objective of reducing human population in such countries). The fourth attack is a “combination” attack, which targets cities of large population and high energy consumption in countries with high levels of biodiversity.
The main conclusion of the analysis of Appendix G is that, with a relatively small nuclear attack – 1,000 atomic bombs – it is possible to destroy a large proportion of Earth’s city population. For the “population” attack (which is designed to destroy as much human population as possible), an attack of this size would destroy about three-quarters of the planet’s city population (of capital cities and cities of size over 100,000). The other attacks, which are not directly aimed at population, also destroy a large proportion of the total city population.
In all four attacks, cities having large populations are targeted. For the “energy” attack (the second attack), more cities in industrialized countries are attacked, since these countries consume the most energy. Countries such as the US are heavily targeted. For example, in this attack 313 of the 333 US cities having population over 100,000 are targeted, resulting in 99% of the city population being targeted. For Canada, 41 of its 47 cities (of population over 100,000) are targeted; these cities account for 97 percent of its city population (of cities over 100,000).
For the “biodiversity” attack (the third attack), countries having high levels of biodiversity are heavily attacked. In this attack, for example, all 187 cities of Brazil (of population over 100,000) are targeted.
There are two reasons for considering the “combination” attack (the fourth attack). First, it is recognized that an attack may have multiple objectives, such as destroying industrial capacity and reducing human population in countries having high levels of biodiversity (e.g., large tropical forests). Second, data on energy consumption or biodiversity were not available for all countries. In such cases, the cities in these countries are not included in the respective attack. For example, no biodiversity data were available on Russia, so no Russian city was included in the biodiversity attack. The “combination” attack overcomes this “data problem” by attacking cities that have large population or high energy use or are located in countries having high levels of biodiversity. Since population data are available for all cities, all cities are subject to attack in the combination attack, even if the biodiversity or energy data are missing.
The graphs of Appendix G show, for selected countries, which cities are targeted for the four different types of attack. The tables presented in Appendix I are “attack summaries” that show the number of cities attacked in each country, and the amount and proportion of city population targeted in each country. In general, all countries having large populations are attacked, but many countries are not attacked at all (e.g., in the combination attack, only 103 of the total 229 countries are attacked).
The graphs of Appendix G show (for selected countries) exactly which cities are targeted four the four different types of attack considered, and the tables of Appendix I summarize the damage to each country. The message of the Appendix G analysis is that a relatively small nuclear attack (1,000 atomic bombs) can destroy a large proportion of Earth’s city population.
The preceding chapter showed that a low-level nuclear attack can destroy a very large proportion of the world’s city population. This chapter examines what is left, after such an attack. The key issue to address is how many functioning countries remain, after the attack. The attacks of the preceding chapter did not take into account the country affiliation of each city; there was no direct attempt to destroy countries (e.g., by destroying a certain percentage of each country’s population).
The purpose of this chapter is to impart a sense of the level of destruction of the global economic system. To that end, it examines the damage to the major world countries, and summarizes the damage to each country.
Appendix I (“Attack Summaries”) presents a list of all 229 countries, with an indication of the amount of damage from each of the four attacks. The list includes total number of cities, total city population, the number of cities targeted under each attack, and the proportion of the city population destroyed under each attack (amount and percentage).
We shall now describe the situation in several countries with respect to the combination attack. Of the 229 countries, 103 of them are attacked in the combination attack. The discussion will also identify the population levels that could be supported in each country by primitive agriculture and by hunter-gatherer lifestyle. It will also discuss the racial, religious, linguistic, and cultural homogeneity of the countries.
Cultural Status. The current status of the United States is that it has lost its cultural identity (cultural integrity, cultural cohesiveness, cultural homogeneity) and is no longer a cohesive nation. Many books have been written about this, and the subject will not be discussed in detail. Some of the books on the subject are listed below, and many others are listed in the bibliography. Following the list is a brief summary of the situation.
1. Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert H. Bork
2. Americans No More, by Georgie Anne Geyer
3. Alien Nation, by Peter Brimelow
4. The Disuniting of America, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
5. Will America Drown? by Humphrey Dalton, ed.
6. America Balkanized, by Brent A. Nelson
7. The Camp of the Saints, by Jean Raspail
8. The Global Migration Crisis, by Myron Weiner
9. The Immigration Dilemma, by Garrett Hardin
10. The Immigration Invasion, by Wayne Lutton and John Tanton
11. Immigration Out of Control, by John Vinson
12. Still an Open Door? by Vernon M. Briggs, Jr. and Stephen Moore
13. Importing Revolution: Open Borders and the Radical Agenda, by William R. Hawkins
14. Peaceful Invasions: Immigration and Changing America, by Leon F. Bouvier
15. Fear of Strangers – And Its Consequences, by David Allen
16. Population Politics, by Virginia D. Abernethy
17. How Many Americans? Population, Immigration and the Environment, by Leon F. Bouvier and Lindsey Grant
18. Population Versus Liberty, by Jack Parsons
19. Mass Immigration and the National Interest, 2nd ed., Vernon M. Briggs
20. Divided We Fall, by Haynes Johnson
21. The Path to National Suicide, by Lawrence Auster
22. The Myth of Open Borders, by Wayne Lutton
At the time of the Second World War, the United States was relatively homogeneous. Its citizens spoke mainly English and it was predominantly white European, and Protestant Christian. Prior to 1965, US immigration policies were oriented to acceptance primarily of immigrants from Europe and the exclusion of immigrants from Third World countries. The policy was to maintain the country’s basic ethnicity as white, English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon or European, Judeo-Christian, and Western (Greco-Roman). In 1963, John F. Kennedy published a book entitled, A Nation of Immigrants, in which he proposed reversing the policy of immigration in favor of Europeans to a policy in favor of Third-World immigrants. After his assassination, his brothers Edward and Robert Kennedy worked hard to pass a new immigration law – the Immigration Act of 1965 – which changed immigration policy in favor of Third World countries, emphasized “family reunification” rather than skills as a basis for granting immigration, and raising the immigration quotas. Some, such as North Carolina’s Sen. Sam Ervin, argued that the proposed legislation would flood the country with immigrants and dramatically alter the cultural identity of the nation.
Edward Kennedy argued that the bill would not flood our cities with immigrants and would not upset the ethnic mix of the country. He claimed that those who raised such concerns were irrational and bred hatred of our heritage. Although Kennedy’s claims were patently false, the bill was passed, and the immigration floodgates were opened. The result has been a disaster for the nation. The population has soared from 194 million in 1965 to 272 million today, primarily because of immigration. Current immigration rates exceed a million a year. The ethnic/racial balance of the country has dropped dramatically, from a white, English-speaking, Christian majority of almost 90% to about 70%, and it is projected that by the year 2050 the white, English-speaking, Christian segment of the population will be in the minority. They will be strangers in their own land – in the land that their forefathers killed to create for them.
When aliens and their progeny outnumber your culture, they are no longer aliens. At that point, they are invaders and would-be conquerors of your country. They have become masters not only of their own destiny, but of yours as well. Massive immigration is tearing the United States apart. The result will be either a handover of white, English, Protestant America to foreign culture, or civil war.
The Immigration Act of 1965 has been a disaster for the nation not just because millions of acres of natural land have been paved over, but because large-scale immigration has destroyed it ethnically and culturally. It is no longer the stable nation that it was in the 1940s and 1950s. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted a long time ago that the Soviet Union was bound to collapse under the pressure of ethnic differences (see The Economist, January 2, 1999, p. 30). The US is now in the process of creating ethnic diversity of the same kind that destroyed the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and is now destroying Canada. It is in the process of committing cultural suicide.
The United States was able to accommodate immigration in the past because immigrants were assimilated. Today’s immigrants are not being assimilated. Many do not speak English. Many are nonChristian. Many do not have a Western Civilization heritage. Many are nonwhite. They are not assimilating into a cohesive, homogeneous nation – a people with a common language, religion, race, culture, and heritage. The country is turning into a fractionated, balkanized state, and it will follow in the paths of other balkanized states – dissolution. A multicultural world is a wonderful, fascinating place. A multicultural nation is an oxymoron. A nation is not defined or strengthened by cultural (or ethnic or linguistic or racial) diversity, but by cultural homogeneity.
In his book, Why the Nations Rage: Killing in the Name of God (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1997), Christopher Catherwood discusses how multiculturalism – primarily religious differences – has torn the former Yugoslavia asunder. What is happening there will happen in the US before long, as the cultural homogeneity of the US is destroyed by mass immigration.
The passage of the Immigration Act of 1965 is a classic example of the “politics of envy.” The “politics of greed” is easy to understand and accept – the use of political power to further one’s own interests. The “politics of envy” is mean: the use of political power by the “have-nots” to destroy the “haves,” whatever the consequences – even if it means that everyone will be worse off. As Catholics, the Kennedys by definition could never belong to the country’s Protestant powerholding elite. Under a democratic system of government, a sure way to defeat the majority culture is by increasing the size of the nonmajority culture until it exceeds the majority culture in size. The Immigration Act of 1965 was the instrument by which this would be accomplished. This objective is now half-completed. By 2050 it will be complete. White, English-speaking, Protestant Christians will no longer be in charge of America. Under the politics of envy, the fact that white, English-speaking Catholics will also not be in charge is irrelevant.
Anyone who has seen Akira Kurosawa’s movie Ran can appreciate the power of the politics of envy. Just as Lady Kaede destroyed the House of Ichimanji, John and Edward Kennedy have driven a stake into the heart of America. It survives today only on the steroid of fossil fuels, the narcotic of industrial materialism, the amphetamine of heady economic growth. Its strength is illusory. The cultural glue that once held it together is being dissolved by immigration. Its spirit has been adulterated, weakened by decades of seduction from the Delilah of multiculturalism, pluralism and tolerance.
The United States is now a permissive, inclusive, multicultural, multiethnic collection of people that has lost its cultural identity. The only thing that holds it together is its vast wealth. There is an “affirmative action” program for virtually every sizable minority. Once the wealth is gone, however, it will quickly disintegrate into ethnic/racial war. America will no longer have the resources to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, religion or ethnic origin.
And the wealth will soon be gone. America’s vast wealth derives today from energy that is pumped out of the ground almost for free. Economists tell us that the cost of commodities is becoming cheaper and cheaper as technology advances. But they are referring to dollar (market) costs, which have little to do with environmental costs or energy costs. They fail to point out that the proportion of energy consumed by the energy-production process itself becomes larger and larger as mankind uses up the cheap energy (oil) and moves to other energy sources (nuclear energy, oil shale, biomass).
America was founded by white Europeans who had no qualms about killing other races (the Indians) or nationalities (the French, the Spanish, the British), and enslaving people of other races (the Negroes). As other nations had done throughout history, they had no problem ignoring the plight of their slaves or the dispossessed Indians, as they solemnly wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." They did not fight the Revolutionary War to set Negroes free, or to establish a multicultural society. They could easily distinguish between what is necessary to forge a strong nation and what is moral on the personal level, and, to paraphrase Gen. Patton, “they knew what to do.” They knew that while Christianity directs all men to love one another on a personal level, nations must possess a strong cultural core and defend that cultural core if they are to continue to exist. When the US was formed, and for many years after, it possessed a strong cultural core. As President Andrew Johnson stated in 1865, “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am president, it shall be a government for white men.”
Today, our children are taught that one culture is just as good as another, that one religion is just as good as another. While this is certainly arguable, that attitude will prove fatal for any culture that really believes it. A soldier must believe that his culture, his religion, his family is worth fighting for – that there is some good reason why he is being asked to lay his life on the line, make his wife a widow and his children orphans, and kill other fine young men. What is the point to this sacrifice, if his country is selling his culture down the river? In the final analysis, it is his own family and culture that a soldier is fighting to preserve and is willing to lay down his life for. And any nation that forgets this will not last long.
The US has completely lost control of its borders. People from all parts of the world are simply walking across its borders or arriving in boats, just as Jean Raspail predicted in his prophetic novel of twenty years ago (The Camp of the Saints). When that happens, a nation is not longer a nation at all. It is estimated (Statistical Abstract of the United States 1997, Table 10) that there are now about five million illegal immigrants in the US. Thousands more arrive every month; the Immigration and Naturalization Service cannot recruit them fast enough. Why does the white, European, English-speaking Christian cultural “core” of the US do nothing to stop its demise? The primary reason is economic – business wants lots of immigrants for cheap labor. The other is political. Anyone who speaks out against immigration now is branded as a “racist”; now that America’s cultural core has been diluted, that spells disaster for any political career.
The Immigration Act of 1965 has spawned a whole “immigration industry.” The US government no longer tests immigrants, but farms that job out to contractors. All sorts of ethnic special interest groups have arisen (e.g., LULAC, MALDEF, La Raza) to promote immigration, special benefits for immigrants, and foreign culture. The Act has led to an entire law industry devoted to immigration and immigrants. See Importing Revolution: Open Borders and the Radical Agenda by William R. Hawkins for details on special-interest groups that are dedicated to promoting immigration and alien culture, and thereby promoting the destruction of America’s land, environment and culture.
When the minority population becomes the majority population, the original population – so feckless that it would allow this to happen – can be simply pushed out of the way. As Ghandi said to the British in India, “There is no way that you can remain in India if 400 million Indians do not wish for you to be here.”
The United States fought a bloody civil war in 1861-1865, and because of the Immigration Act of 1965 it may well fight another. We have fought the Spanish several times over land, but are now, through our own legislation and lack of resolve, in the process of giving back the land (Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico) that our forefathers fought, killed and died for. The US government has allowed millions of Hispanics to invade this country, and even granted them citizenship.
The $100 Solution to the Immigration Problem. The immigration problem in the US could be solved in about a week, at the cost of about one hundred dollars. How: simply make illegal immigration a capital crime. All that is required is a coil of rope for a noose and some wood for a gallows. Then, each afternoon, hang an illegal immigrant, in public. For maximum effect, the hanging could be in the original British way, with no broken neck, so that the condemned wriggles and writhes. Very quickly, illegal immigrants would “get the message,” and go back home.
Will this be done? Of course not. Americans are now too squeamish to lose lives or take lives, even in war. (See The Economist, January 22, 1999, p. 28 for further discussion of this development.) This proposal would in fact save many American lives. Illegal immigrants are criminals. The federal prisons are flooded with them. Even if it is assumed that the murder rate for the illegal immigrant population is the same as for the general population (currently about 8 per 100,000 per year), they are responsible for about 400 murders per year (8 x 5 million / 100,000 = 400). That is more than one a day. Even if an illegal immigrant is hanged every day for a year, that is only 365 executions a year. By doing this, and getting rid of the illegal immigrants, the lives of 400 Americans would be saved, every year. Ask any mother whose child has been killed by illegal immigrants whether she thinks illegal immigration should be a capital crime.
There are other ways in which immigration could be stemmed. Exile any businessman who hires an illegal alien to the alien’s country of origin. Require anyone who sponsors an immigrant for citizenship to trade places with that person, and to emigrate to his country.
The preceding examples may seem extreme and convulsive, but the eventual result of uncontrolled immigration – civil war – is also convulsive, and on a much grander scale.
The alien invasion is a war against America, but America is not fighting back. In the words of Malcolm X, it is necessary to fight back “by any means necessary” if it is desired to win.
As has been pointed out by many authors, the immigration problem is in fact a war that is destroying America’s white, English-speaking, European Christian cultural identity. Since 1965, millions of nonwhite, non-English-speaking, nonEuropean nonChristians have flooded the country. Whole cities have been taken over by nonwhite, non-English-speaking, nonEuropean nonChristian immigrants and their progeny. Had this change happened over a few weeks, the core culture of the US would have declared war and repelled the invasion. But because it has happened over thirty years, it has been allowed to happen.
The flood of immigrants – legal as well as illegal – is an invasion that is rapidly destroying the US core culture. It is a war that is being lost, because few Americans are willing to take a stand. Nobody wants to be called a racist. Nobody is starving to death, and saving the core culture simply is not worth doing. Perhaps it is no longer worth saving. Thomas Jefferson observed that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Our forefathers watered the tree of liberty with their blood, and established a strong, vibrant, unified country. The generation of Thomas Jefferson was willing to die and willing to kill to establish a homeland for white, English-speaking, Protestant Christians. The current generation of Americans is not willing to do that, and so they shall be quickly vanquished.
When a generation prevails on the battlefield, it establishes its culture at that point in time. Thomas Jefferson’s point was that just because your forefathers fought and died for your country, you have little claim to it. It is yours only as long as someone else does not take it away. It is necessary for each new generation to reestablish its claim to its land. That is one reason why “each generation has its own war.” As long as populations grow – and that is the biological nature of man -- there is competition for the planet’s resources and land, and conflict. In an energy-rich environment that conflict may be deferred for a while, but it is only postponed, not cancelled.
As observed by Peter Brimelow (Alien Nation), most nations of the world simply do not accept immigrants. America is a laughingstock. If a white American applies to immigrate to China or Japan or India or South Korea or Taiwan or Mexico or Jamaica or Egypt, they will laugh in his face. As Brimelow notes, the US allows 1.6 million residents of Chinese origin, but China will not accept a single immigrant. China and Japan know what the game is; the US does not.
The following table shows the resident population of the US, by race and Hispanic origin (Statistical Abstract of the United States 1997, Table 30; data for 1990).
Race and Hispanic Origin Population (thousands)
Am. Indian, Eskimo, Aleut 1,959
American Indian 1,878
Asian or Pacific Islander 7,274
Asian Indian 815
Other Asian or Pac. Islander 263
Hispanic Origin 22,354
Puerto Rican 2,728
Other Hispanic 5,086
Not of Hispanic Origin 226,356
When I was a boy, I read journalist Lincoln Steffens’ story, Boy on Horseback, about Steffens’ youth in the countryside hills around Sacramento. Those hills have now been invaded by Hmong tribesmen. They no longer belong to Lincoln Steffens’ memory or to his progeny. Recently, the news reported that San Diego now has so many Vietnamese that it has started a Vietnamese newspaper. The numbers of aliens flooding American cities exceed the population of many small countries.
Everywhere there are signs of our disappearing culture. Signs at Christmas usually say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Spanish is showing up everywhere, including product information, automatic telephone answering machines, automated banking machines. The taxi drivers in the nation’s capital are not Americans, but Middle-Easterners and Orientals. Clerks in convenience stores and motels are Asians now, not core-culture Americans. The government (at all levels, federal, state and local) wastes millions of dollars every year providing forms, legal services, and social services in multiple languages. Mosques are sprouting up in many American cities. Many of the people you see wearing saris and headdresses now in the US are citizens, not visitors. Entertainment and the media are replete with representation from multiple cultures.
The white English-speaking population, that founded the country, is now just 71% of the total. We are rapidly going the way of the Fijians. Fiji allowed so much immigration that in 1987 the immigrants – mostly Asian Indians – outnumbered the native Fijians. They had granted the immigrants citizenship and the right to vote. Under the democratic form of government, they no longer had the right to govern their own land. Although perfectly legal, it was not right, and the army assumed control.
Is that what is going to happen in the United States? Will someone assume control, nullify the Immigration Act of 1965, and send everyone who is here as a result of it back to his country of origin? When the “flashpoint” is reached and the core culture of a nation realizes that it is losing control of its country, anything can happen. David Allen discusses these concepts in Fear of Strangers. Immigrants may assert a right of majority rule, but the original inhabitants will assert the right of ownership, their right of primacy. When an established nation is defeated by a superior power, international law recognizes the legitimacy of the violent successor.
What defines our culture, and establishes the sides when the “paradigm shifts” and the US descends into civil war? Anything. Cultures are arbitrary, intangible, multidimensional and constantly changing. The culture that founded the US in 1776 is different from the culture that “saved the Union” in 1865 and the culture that won World War II in 1945. The sides will be determined when the situation arises. The term “US core culture” refers to the dominant cultural group in the US at a point in time, but that culture is dynamic, not static. The point is that when things get rough, sides will be taken, and they will be determined by culture (race, language, religion, ethnic origin). That may seem very arbitrary and discriminatory, but it is the nature of life.
Recent history is replete with examples of nations that are now extinct because they did not fight. A hundred years after their arrival, the white missionaries who came to Hawaii had swamped the native population. Push came to shove near the end of the nineteenth century and it was necessary for the native Hawaiians to take a stand and fight for their country, or lose it. Queen Liliuokalani did not want to shed any Hawaiian blood, however, and so her country was lost. It could be free country today had the Hawaiians been willing to fight and die and kill for it. Instead, the native Hawaiians have lost their land and their country and their nation; their religion, language, race and culture are now in the process of being assimilated into an alien culture. (An irony here is that, after taking Hawaii from the native Hawaiians, white America has now lost the Islands to the Japanese. Incredibly, it has done this not by being pushed aside by the Japanese, but by inviting them in. The brave sailors who gave their lives to fight the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in the Pacific fought in vain. Their sacrifice has been desecrated by a new generation of multicultural Americans who simply give to the Japanese what the brave men of World War II gave their lives to protect from invasion. This is hardly unusual in human history. The sacrifices of earlier generations may be recounted for political advantage, but they are respected, honored and revered only as long as their culture thrives.)
By the year 2050, the US core culture will have followed the path of the Fijians, and given control of their destiny to other cultures. If US core culture is so dissolute that it can do that, it does not deserve a land – it is already moribund. The main reason the US is allowing a flood of immigrants is for money – immigrants are cheap, motivated labor, willing to do any job, and offering a competitive labor advantage in the international labor market. The Bible (Gen. 25:19-35) tells the story of Jacob and Esau. One day, Esau, famished from being in open country, begged Jacob for some stew. Jacob replied, “First, sell me your birthright.” Esau, caring nothing for his birthright, did so, and ate. The United States' core culture is currently selling its birthright in exchange for cheap labor and money. It holds of no value its birthright to the nation forged by blood and steel by Washington, Jefferson, and others. It is following the path of Esau, and it will reap the reward of Esau.
If the members of a new generation of a nation or people wish to remain free, they are going to have to make the same sacrifices as their forefathers. Today’s Americans are unwilling to make the hard choices necessary to remain free and propertied, and their freedom and land will soon be taken from them. Instead of killing the illegal aliens who are flooding into the US, today’s Americans are giving them jobs, welfare benefits and land. What our forefathers fought and died for is of no value to today’s Americans, and they will not possess it for long.
As Sun Tzu pointed out thousands of years ago, if you do not know yourself or the enemy, you are going to lose the war. America is losing the war against the alien invasion; many Americans do not even realize it is happening. A friend of mine recently took his grandchildren to the Miami zoo. For the whole day, the only English he heard was from his own family. Miami has fallen to the aliens. Every time you see an Asian face on television, or hear a foreign accent, or see a Moslem headdress or an Indian sari, envision an alien plunging a bayonet into the belly of your grandchild, or smashing your grandchild’s head against a wall, because that is what it is coming to.
Another friend of mine recently did some computer work for the Asian owner of a chain of “convenience” stores. He though the business of a convenience store was selling food and gasoline. He was amazed when the owner told him he could give away the food – he made his money on high-interest loans to immigrants who wanted to stay out of sight! That is the culture that Americans are now willing to let shove aside their own.
America, wake up! Your government is giving your country away. Every immigrant admitted to the country consumes the same amount of the national parks and national forests and lakeshore property and wild animal habitat as an original inhabitant. When I was a boy, my father, on a modest income, could always buy us lakefront property near the town in which we lived (we lived in several towns while I was growing up). Because of overpopulation, that kind of property is now available only for the wealthy.
When I was a boy, I remember expressing my dismay to my father at all wildlife “road kill” on the highways where we lived (eastern Canada) – raccoons, possums, foxes, porcupines, skunks, deer, rabbits and squirrels – all the time. (Of course, if you met a moose, it was you who was road kill!) I will never forget his response, since it illustrates vividly how things are not always what they seem. He explained that the reason there was so much carnage on the highway was that there was plenty of wildlife around – that we should be worried if there were no dead animals on the roads.
Think about it. When is the last time you saw a dead fox or porcupine on the road? The people of the US have literally sanitized the country. Everywhere you go on the East Coast is roads and houses. Wildlife has been annihilated in most places, and relegated to state and national parks in others. All of the other land has been made practically devoid of mammalian wildlife of any size.
The massive crowding of our parks, the loss of lakefront property, the overcrowding in our cities, the long commute times to our jobs, the loss of wildlife habitat – all of these are directly due to immigration. Since 1975, your government has given away more than 25% of your country. You can no longer decide to whom you are going to sell your house, and you can no longer decide whom you are going to hire. Under our majority-rule system of government, you will no longer be in charge of anything by the year 2050. With the paralysis of government by the “tyranny of the minority,” you are really not in charge already.
If white America wishes to preserve its culture by excluding browns or blacks or yellows or reds, that is called racism by the liberal multiculturalists. If Tibetans wish that the Chinese would not invade their country and eradicate their culture, however, liberals view that as a perfectly understandable position. Multiculturalist Americans are on a witch-hunt against white racism, yet say nothing against the nonwhite racism that pervades the world. Wanting to preserve your family or tribe or the racial composition of your nation may be called racism – it is racism -- but it is also common sense. It is practiced by every nation of the world that intends to survive. (See John C. Vinson: Immigration and Nation, a Biblical View.)
Americans do not like to talk about miscegenation. It is, however, the main reason underlying black/white conflict in America. It was the reason why Southerners resisted desegregation. As noted by David Allen (Fear of Strangers), the offspring of miscegenation represent the death of whiteness, and all of its privileges, for all time. Race, next to gender, is the most defining of all human characteristics, and it is a natural instinct to preserve this major aspect of self-identity. The Japanese do, the Chinese do, the Germans do, the Israelis do – every culture with a strong self-image and desire to survive does.
Why do people take a stand on race, religion, and culture? Because they want to survive. If a race or culture is to preserve itself, it cannot allow other cultures to intermingle with it. It must separate itself from other cultures. White culture lasted as the dominant culture in the US only as long as white culture separated itself from the Negro slaves and the Chinese railroad workers. When blacks and Asians are allowed to mix with whites, they will inevitably interbreed and intermarry. Although millions of black plantation workers and Chinese railroad workers were imported to the US, white culture survived by placing severe restrictions on these populations and their activities. When, as today, Asians are invited to come to our country to become managers and professional people, when they are given citizenship and empowered to vote, then they will seduce your sons and daughters, and marry your sons and daughters, and cause your culture to vanish. If a Jewish father does not want his daughter to marry a gentile, then he must not let her date gentiles. As it was crudely put when I was a boy, “People who play together lay together.”
The most fundamental decisions of our lives are made largely for us. Our race, our language, our culture, our religion, our nation – for most people, most of these decision are decided at birth, and remain with us for life. Apostasy – the denial of one’s religion. Treason – the betrayal of one’s nation. Miscegenation – the termination of one’s race in his progeny. Adultery – the loss of property rights for one’s blood offspring. Why do people feel so strongly about these things? Why are traitors hanged? Why is it the duty of Moslems to kill apostates? Why are adulteresses stoned? It is because these things strike at the heart of one’s culture, nation, family, and very existence. Without dictates and mandates against apostasy, treason, miscegenation and adultery, no religion, nation, race, or family can survive.
Is it right to kill a person because of his race, religion, language, or culture? Is it wrong to deny your religion and culture by refusing to do so? The answers depend on your religion and nationality. Acting as an individual, killing is generally wrong. It is wrong as a citizen for many reasons, and it is wrong as a Christian for any reason. Done for his nation in war, however, killing is a patriotic duty and (for most religions) a religious obligation. God has given authority to the nations: as a Christian, you must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and defend your nation to the death. And a nation may wage war against any other nation for any reason. Any nation that is unprepared to kill to preserve itself will surely and quickly cease to exist. If it does not defend its boundaries and national integrity, it betrays its citizens and does not deserve to continue to exist. And what is a nation? It is a group of people defined by and bound together by common race, religion, language, and culture. If a nation is not willing to kill to protect these attributes, it will not last long.
Any country that allows aliens to own its land will lose its land. It is illegal for foreigners to own land in Haiti (or, it was the last time I worked there). If it were, Haiti would not be owned by Haitians. Today, a very wealthy individual could purchase all of Haiti or any other small country. A country that wishes to protect itself cannot allow aliens property rights. Black Haitians possess Haiti today because they were willing to kill for it – to slaughter hundreds of white French landowners – men, women, and children. A culture, a nation, will exist no longer than it is willing to do this.
As noted by Robert H. Bork in his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, the moral fiber of America is rotten, infected by radical egalitarianism, radical individualism, permissiveness, self-indulgence, and multiculturalism. He notes that to his knowledge no multiethnic society has ever been peaceful except when constrained by external force. I would posit the exception that a multiethnic society can be peaceful if it is so fabulously wealthy that everyone can be “paid off,” as in the present-day US. When the energy is gone, the money will be gone, and multiculturalism will be gone.
As observed by John Vinson (Immigration and Nation, a Biblical View), radical egalitarianism is the sin of envy: “It is the sin of all men who wish to pull down excellence and achievement of other men and to reduce the glory of God.” The putative intent of America’s affirmative action program was to insure that every American had an equal opportunity. Right from the beginning, however, firms were unable to prove that if the ethnic composition of their workforce did not equal the ethnic composition of the country or local area, it was not the result of racial discrimination. It is often impossible to prove a negative. As a result, the program quickly degenerated into a perverse system of quotas. Any firm not having the right percentage of blacks or females or Hispanics was automatically guilty of de facto discrimination, and sued. The only practical defense was to hire blacks and females and Hispanics in proportion to their numbers in the general population, regardless of qualification. This approach, not only demeaning to the minorities, has infuriated better-qualified individuals who have lost jobs to less-qualified individuals on the basis of race or other minority status.
The US passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act banning racial discrimination, and then proceeded to implement affirmative action to promote racial discrimination.
The US military establishment has failed utterly to defend the country from destruction at the hands of immigration. In most other countries of the world, the army stands by ready to assume the reins of government when the civilian government fails. Not so in the US. In 1965, the country’s borders were opened to aliens from all countries and cultures – friend or foe. Since then the country has been invaded by 50 million immigrants and their offspring. The Army has stood by, feckless, effete, as the Immigration and Naturalization Service has allowed the country to be flooded with aliens (both legal and illegal). The Army did not, and now will not and cannot, defend the core American culture. The Environmental Protection Agency has served no better. Because of the massive population growth over the last few decades, the US is now a net importer of wood, and is destroying its “old growth” forests faster than Brazil is destroying its tropical forests. As the population grows, it becomes impossible to protect wildlife habitat and save vanishing species from destruction. What has the EPA done to restrict human population growth? – nothing!
The continuation of any level of immigration that results in positive growth will ultimately result in a population of size greater than any specified level. Addicted to growth, the US government continues massive immigration year after year. It will not terminate immigration, and because of multiculturalism, it cannot even restrict immigration to skilled workers without cries of racism.
There are virtually no requirements now for US citizenship. It is awarded to virtually anyone. A Mexican whore can slip across the US border, have a child, and it is automatically a US citizen. Then, under the “family reunification” guidelines of current immigration laws, the mother can be granted citizenship. Then the father. Then other relatives, and their relatives, in an endless chain. In the last days of the Roman Empire, Roman citizenship, which had originally been highly prized, was granted to anyone. The US is now in the same phase. US and Canadian citizenship are granted to anyone. It is even sold and raffled off in lotteries. It is used as a prize given to any one or any group we feel sorry for. Many Americans now believe that everyone has a right to be a US resident and become a US citizen, unless you can prove otherwise. Americans no more, as Georgie Anne Geyer observes. We no longer value US citizenship, we no longer defend and cherish it, and it will not last much longer.
It has been estimated that for each immigrant who comes to the US, an acre of land is destroyed, i.e., permanently taken out of agricultural production or natural use, and turned into roads, bridges, parking lots, buildings, and other structures. And much of this is prime natural or agricultural land, because urban areas tend to be located in areas of high land fertility.
In May of 1999 the US Government passed legislation to allow 20,000 ethnic Albanian Kosovars refuge in the US. If the situation in Kosovo improves, they may return to Kosovo or choose to stay in the US. There is little doubt that they will choose to stay. Their arrival represents the permanent destruction of another 20,000 acres of US agricultural land.
Because of immigration (both legal and illegal) since World War II, the US population is at least 100 million higher than it would otherwise have been. Since passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, immigration has caused the country to grow by at least 50 million more than it would have. By the year 2050, it is estimated that US population will increase by about 150 million more than it would have without immigration, since 1970.
What is the impact of 100 million additional Americans? It means that approximately 100 million acres, or 156,250 square miles, of land is permanently destroyed. This is equivalent to an area 395 miles by 395 miles. The US has 187,776,000 ha of arable and permanent cropland. That is about 463,644,444 acres, or about 724,444 square miles. That is an equivalent to an area 851 miles by 851 miles. Immigration is literally devouring the country. Economists may pontificate all they want about how immigrants increase GDP, but the fact is that immigration is destroying our land and wildlife, permanently. Economic activity can be created with the stroke of a pen, simply by placing a numerical value on the exchange of goods or services between human beings. GDP is a nontangible artifact of the human mind. Nature, wildlife, plant and animal species, and the ecosystem are real. Present-day Americans are trading their irreplaceable natural heritage for some numbers (GDP) and industrial waste. They are turning the pristine North America they took from the Indians into a teeming Third-world warren as fast as they can, just for the money. How foolish.
The US government is paralyzed. A democracy can thrive when the population is homogeneous. But the US, via massive, rapid immigration, has been balkanized into a rabble of unassimilated ethnic groups. No politician can stand for anything that offends any minority group, for fear of destruction at the hands of coalitions of minority groups.
With few exceptions, such as Sen. Sam Ervin, America’s political leaders have ignored the immigration problem. It has been good for business, and they serve business. As Sen. Ervin anticipated, however, that it would lead to a serious ethnic destabilization, and it has. In 1955, my family never locked the front door to our house, unless we were leaving for vacation. A 1955 Chevrolet had an ignition switch that could be left permanently in an unlocked position. We never locked the car or the ignition switch. There was no need. Crime was very low. Personal safety can no longer be taken for granted. Outsiders were not allowed to come into our neighborhoods. Transients and loiterers were arrested. Many people alive today do not realize how dramatically the quality of life has fallen for the average American since 1950. While not all of the negative change in the quality of life can be attributed to immigration, much of it can. The tremendous increase in the number of people and the tremendous increase in ethnic diversity have caused a tremendous destabilization. The US is not longer the stable, united country that it was fifty years ago.
In summary, the US is effectively finished as a nation. It no longer has a cultural identity, or core, defining it as a nation and giving it unity, strength, meaning and purpose. As Gordon Gibson observed in his article, “If Quebec goes, how much territory will go with it?” in the February 4, 1997 issue of The Globe and Mail (Toronto), any time the real law is raw power, four things matter: the balance of resources, control of the ground, the skill of the generals and the resolve of the parties. The US has lost its resolve, the will to preserve its core culture. It will last only as long as the money holds out.
Damage from the “Combination” Minimal-Regret Attack. As shown in Figure 40 (United States) of Appendix G, the US suffers massive losses in the “combination” attack (as well as in the other three attacks) – 182 of its cities of population over 100,000 are attacked, targeting 90% of its city population. All of the major Hispanic-dominated cities of the country (e.g., in California, Texas, and Florida) will have been destroyed. The 100,000 Vietnamese living in San Diego would be gone. Since much of rural America is white, English-speaking, European Christian culture, the cultural unity of the country will have been dramatically enhanced. At this time, the various militias that are active in the US will come to the fore, and assert control over their bailiwicks. Be kind to your local militia -- it is all that will stand between you and anarchy after the war.
If all population in the targeted cities is destroyed – a total of 197 million people – then the remaining population will be 74 million (using today’s population of 272 million). The total cropland area of the US is 187,776,000 ha (FAO Production Yearbook 1996; figure is for the year 1995; “cropland” includes arable land (for temporary crops) and permanent cropland). After the war, agricultural yields will plummet, from being able to provide food (and a little energy) for up to 10 people per hectare to perhaps 1 person per hectare. Hence, the (arable and permanent) cropland area of 188 million ha will easily support 74 million people. That was the population of the US about the year 1900.
Hence, after the war, the US will be in the position of having a high degree of cultural homogeneity, and sufficient land to feed its population, even at a preindustrial level of agriculture (using horses, since America has depleted its petroleum supplies). The US abandoned its Civil Defense program decades ago. After a nuclear war, the remaining population – small towns and rural population – will be on its own, with only local militias to defend it. It has no defense against nuclear war, even the low-intensity war described in this book. Such a war can happen very easily, yet America has made no preparations to protect itself in the wake of such a war. Like the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable, it has fiddled during the summertime when it could have prepared for winter. And it will be a very cold winter indeed!
It seems that America’s leaders have chosen to ignore the possibility of nuclear war and its aftermath, that it is a game that they just don’t want to play. In view of the fact that this type of war is quite feasible and increasingly likely, this position is rather incredible. It may be that no preparations have been made because the thought of nuclear devastation is difficult to face, or it may be a case of “discounting in time and space.” It may be a case of denial, analogous to the person dying of cancer who simply cannot face the truth. If so, that is their choice, unfortunate as it may be for the American survivors. Nuclear war will happen, and when it does, those who have prepared for it will survive. America has abandoned its postattack survivors. It has made a de facto choice to cease to function as a nation following a nuclear war.
Cultural Status. The situation in Canada is in many respects similar to the situation in the US. Canada has embarked on a massive immigration program. Its population has doubled since 1950, from 14 billion to twice that level. Canada is more highly culturally fragmented than the US. Canada contains six million French-speaking people and 14 million English-speaking people (see Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 13th edition, by Barbara F. Grimes, ed., or Countries, Peoples and Their Languages: The Geolinguistic Handbook, by Erik V. Gunnemark, for data on the cultural and linguistic composition of countries). Other languages are growing, as Canada accepts a massive number of immigrants from around the world.
Vancouver is now heavily Asian; it is referred to as North America’s Asian capital. Toronto has a large and growing Asian population – about half a million immigrants have settled there since 1990. Both Toronto and Vancouver are comprised of about one-third minority population. When I lived in Canada in the 1940s, it was a country of British character and French character. It is now a multicultural potpourri. As noted by Peter Brimelow in The Patriot Game: Canada and the Canadian Question Revisited, Canada is comprised of at least two and conceivably seven incipient subnations. As I mentioned, I lived and worked last year in Toronto. English-speaking Canadians have given up control of the country for which Wolfe gave his life on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. What he gave his life for – a British Canada – is of no value to present-day Canadians of British heritage. Not only will they not fight to preserve it, they are admitting Third-World aliens to it as fast as they possibly can, to destroy its British character utterly.
A Canadian friend of mine – of English extraction – returned recently to Canada after a business trip. As he entered the airport, a “welcomer” greeted him and other arriving passengers. With beaming smile, the greeter exclaimed in a heavy eastern-European accent, “Vaalcome to my caahntry!” My friend was stunned. He had thought that Canada was his country – his ancestors had carved it out of the wilderness and fought bloody battles to take it from the French. Sorry, pal, but your generation just gave your country away. Will you ever get it back? Only by paying the same price that your ancestors did. To acquire a country and to keep it, it is necessary to fight and die and kill for it. As Thomas Jefferson stated, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” English Canadians are no longer willing to pay this price, and so they are no longer in control of Canada.
The Toronto Star carried a telling story last year concerning the perception of its French speaking minority. A French-Canadian lawyer objected to the use of the term, “the Canadian people.” He argued that there is no such thing as a “Canadian people.” There is an English-speaking people, and a French-speaking people, and various other peoples, but no Canadian people. He was right on the mark.
At this point, Canada has no cultural identity at all.
Damage from the “Combination” Minimal-Regret Attack. As shown in Figure 40 (Canada), 25 of Canada’s 47 cities having populations over 100,000 are attacked, resulting in the targeting of 86% of the city population. This corresponds to about 18 million population killed, leaving a population of about 12 million, or about what it had in 1941. Canada has 45,500,000 ha of (arable and permanent) cropland, which will support about 45 million people at a level of 1 person per hectare.
Since Canada’s recent immigrants have settled mainly in the cities, they will be largely wiped out. The remaining population will be largely English and French, in about the same ratios as at present (14 English to 6 French). The country will immediately fragment into local fiefdoms.
Cultural Status. A total of 154 million of Brazil’s total population of 161 million speaks Portuguese, and the remainder speak a wide variety of native and immigrant languages. There are at least one million speakers of immigrant languages, mainly Italian, German and Japanese, and more than 150,000 speakers of 150 Amerindian languages. The country is mainly Roman Catholic.
Brazil has shown little interest in preserving its vast tropical forest. It is rapidly destroying it. It has a strong program to develop its entire expanse. When criticized by the US for doing this, it takes offense, claiming that the US is in no position to criticize since it destroyed much of the forest and wildlife in North America. The implication is that since the US destroyed much of the forest and wildlife in North America, it has just as much right to do so in South America.
Damage from the “Combination” Minimal-Regret Attack. As shown in Figure 40 (Brazil), 86 of the country’s 187 cities of population over 100,000 are attacked, resulting in population casualties of 80%, or about 56 million. This leaves a total of about 105 million remaining.
The cropland area is 65,500,000 ha, which can support 65 million people at a low level of agriculture (1 person per hectare). This falls quite short of the remaining population of 105 million.
Cultural Status. Of the total population of 148 million, most speak Russian, but many other languages are spoken.
Damage from the “Combination” Minimal-Regret Attack. As shown in Figure 40 (Russian Federation), 68 of the 165 cities of population over 100,000 are attacked, resulting in casualties of 76%, or about 54 million. This leaves a remainder population of about 94 million.
The cropland area of the Russian Federation is 132,980,000 ha, which can support about 133 million people at a low level of agriculture (1 person per hectare).
Cultural Status. Chinese is the home language of over 1.1 billion of the 1.2 billion Chinese population. There are five main varieties of Chinese; many other languages are spoken.
Damage from the “Combination” Minimal-Regret Attack. As shown in Figure 40 (China), 270 of the 371 cities of population over 100,000 are attacked, resulting in targeting of 93%, or about 308 million, of the total city population of 332 million. This leaves a remainder population of about 907 million out of the total 1.215 million.
The cropland of China is 95,843,000 ha, which can support about 96 million people at a low level of agriculture (1 person per hectare).
The preceding paragraphs have summarized the postattack situation for a few of the countries that are attacked in the “combination” minimal-regret attack of 1,000 weapons. Recall that 122 countries are not attacked at all under this attack. The situation varies substantially from country to country. In some cases, the remaining population is sufficiently small to be supported at a low level of agriculture, but in others (e.g., Brazil) the remaining population is still too great to be supported by the land.
In cases where the minorities tend to live in cities, such as in the US and Canada, the population is more homogeneous culturally after the attack than before. In others, such as Brazil and Russia, the cultural situation would not change much.
In conclusion, following the attack a large number of countries would still have large remaining populations, but not necessarily so large that the remaining populations could not be supported by low-level agriculture on the country’s arable land. The import of this is that if a single country is to prevail after a minimal-regret war of just 1,000 nuclear bombs, it is going to have to face a lot of formidable adversaries. In particular, China’s population remaining after the attack is still massive (892 million), even after 270 of its cities are attacked.
This situation is as follows. Although a low-intensity attack of 1,000 atomic bombs can destroy a large proportion of the world’s city population, after the attack there is still a large population remaining. It would represent a formidable challenge for any single country to attempt to assume world control after this low-level attack. The country having the best chance of doing so would be China, with a postattack population of almost 900 million.
What are the implications of this? There are several. First, if China is to be defeated, it will have to be attacked with a much larger number of weapons. Since China does not allow foreign immigration and maintains tight control of its borders, the task of simultaneously placing suitcase bombs in any number of Chinese cities is rather formidable. It is, of course, not impossible, since many Chinese have emigrated to other countries. But it may be that the best way to destroy China is by means of a ballistic missile attack. Here we get into game-theoretic aspects. Since China knows that it must be destroyed and that it can be destroyed only by a massive nuclear attack, it is in its best interest to attack first. But this means attacking all other nations of the world, and China’s current nuclear inventory (450 warheads) is inadequate to do this. If it decides to embark on a program of increasing its inventory substantially (to a level of thousands of warheads), it must do so before the US builds the space-based laser system (which can destroy missiles as they are launched). Since plans are proceeding to build a demonstrator satellite for that system, the Chinese don’t have a great deal of time to build up their nuclear arsenal.
Since China is not in a position at the present time to launch a successful attack against the rest of the world, what are the alternatives? Both the US and the Russian Federation have sufficient inventories of nuclear weapons (over 10,000 each) to launch a massive attack on all of the cities of the world. Although the US is not doctrinally opposed to a nuclear first-strike, it is culturally opposed to doing so. Such an attack is hence somewhat unlikely to come from the US, unless a small group could take control of the country’s nuclear launch function. This would be somewhat difficult, because the US military could probably prevent it. It is not impossible, however, because the multiculturalism that has consumed the civilian sector of the country is evident in the military as well.
So China is not presently capable of launching a preemptive attack on the rest of the world, and the US is not inclined to do so. That brings us to Russia. Russia has the nuclear capability (weapon stockpile plus missiles and aircraft to deliver them) to launch a major attack on the world’s cities (assuming that the space-based laser system is not yet operational). This is a rather interesting situation, since the predominant interpretation of Biblical prophecy is that the final war (“Armageddon”) will be initiated by Russia, and involve an Oriental army of 200 million men – which can only be China, in today’s world. Russia knows that it cannot defeat China on the land, so it must destroy it using missiles or aircraft. China knows this, and cannot be expected to sit idly by while it happens.
The primary purpose of this book is feasibility assessment, not prediction. It is concerned with survival strategies for the planet, not for a particular nation or group. The preceding chapters have shown that it is indeed feasible for a low-level nuclear attack to do significant damage to the world’s urban population, but not to wipe it out. The results of this chapter show that, by itself, a low-intensity nuclear attack (1,000 weapons) is not sufficient to destroy much of the world’s population. It would appear, then, that while a low-intensity nuclear attack may be part of a minimal-regret strategy, it must be complemented with other actions to succeed.
The Book of Revelation states, “A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke, and sulphur….” (Rev. 9:18). Based on the analysis presented here, a low-intensity attack of 1,000 weapons on the world’s most populous cities has direct casualties of only about one-fifth of mankind, not one-third of it. Of course, since the 1,000 weapons are all surface bursts, a massive amount of radioactive fallout will be produced, and this fallout could easily kill another fifth. It would also poison the land and water with radioactivity, making it useless for agriculture. As Jesus said, referring to the End of the Age (Matt. 24:19), "How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!”
Much additional analysis is warranted, particularly in the area of game theory. Game theory is well established for two-person games and for games involving many players, but it is not well developed for games of a small number of players greater than two.
The preceding chapter shows that, after a 1,000-weapon war, a substantial population remains, and that a larger-scale war is necessary to accomplish defeat of all of the world’s countries. As discussed earlier, nothing changes in the long run unless a single nation or group takes charge after the war, and moves to maintain global population at a low level. After the nuclear war, the key issue to address is whether a single nation or organization could prevail over (i.e., defeat) each and every one of these remaining countries.
The prospect of conventional war with one or several or all of these remaining countries is rather sobering. If these countries realize what is happening, they will surely ally in an attempt to destroy any single nation or group committed to the elimination of economic activity. To reduce or eliminate this possibility, one approach is to target one nuclear weapon on each of these countries, or at least to each one with population in excess of a specified size, such as one million. With this approach, all of the potential opponents to the single nation are weakened, and the likelihood of success is substantially enhanced.
One of the countries surviving the “combination” attack, of course, could serve as the single nation in charge of a minimal-regret population. In order to be sustainable, the single nation must be homogeneous with respect to race, language, religion, and culture. Russia scores high on these factors, as does China. Although the US does not at the present time, it would after a low-intensity attack. A list could be constructed of ethnic homogeneity scores, but that would require a data collection effort that was beyond the time limitations placed on this book.
Of the several countries discussed above, at the present time only the US and Russia have the wherewithal to accomplish the objective of becoming the single industrialized controlling nation. China will, too, before long. A problem that arises for any of these is that they all have large populations, and are historically committed to large populations. Not one of them fits the concept of a “single industrialized country of five million people,” that was mentioned earlier in the discussion of a minimal-regret planetary population concept. If any one of them were to manage assumption of world control and then continue to promote a highly industrialized level of living for its own large population, the situation would not be much improved, if improved at all, from the current situation. This aspect is not addressed here, and warrants further consideration.
Assuming that a single nation or group is successful in defeating all others after a nuclear war, the issue arises concerning the elimination of economic activity worldwide. Following the attack, some countries will still have very large residual populations. Except for China, it is out of the question to attempt to defeat these countries by means of conventional warfare. This probably means that the single nation in charge will have to possess a strong air force, missile force, or a strong space-based military capability.
Two promising new technologies on the horizon may play a role in the maintenance phase. The space-based laser mentioned above is one of these. Few people realize that a major factor in the decision to abandon work on the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) was the inability to process the massive amount of information about a missile attack, once the attack has been launched. The enemy can not only launch multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, but decoys as well. Until they are slowed down by reentry into the atmosphere, these decoys are essentially indistinguishable from real warheads. The problem of attempting to correlate and track all of the ballistic missiles and discriminate decoys from real warheads in a large-scale ballistic missile was not solvable, even with all the computer power in the world.
Furthermore, even if the correlation/tracking and discrimination problems were solved, the attacker may employ a “ladder-down” attack. In such an attack, the attacker explodes a nuclear weapon in space, to destroy nearby communication satellites. Also, the ionized-gas “fireball” or “cloud” completely blocks out communications, even for surviving electronic systems. The attacker’s missiles fly through the fireball. As soon as they come through, a second nuclear bomb is exploded. This process is continued, generating a sequence (“ladder”) of fireballs that mask the attack all the way down.
The space-based laser uses a radically different approach. Under this concept, the system destroys all missiles as they take off. No missile is allowed to leave the ground. The intractable problems of correlating and tracking large numbers of missiles and decoys, and of “ladder down” nuclear blackouts are simply eliminated.
The space-based laser can play a role in eliminating economic activity after a nuclear attack. Global surveillance systems can detect such activity and destroy it. The space-based laser system can help push the industrial world “back to the Stone Age.”
A second new development that holds promise for the maintenance phase is that of very large-scale dirigibles. Once the threat of conventional response (surface-to-air missiles, aircraft) has been eliminated, dirigibles offer a very efficient means of patrolling the planet, and destroying any signs of economic activity.
The preceding chapters show that it is possible by means of a small nuclear war to destroy a major portion of the world’s city population and industrial capacity. The potential then exists for a single nation to take charge of the planet, and maintain it in a positive, controlled fashion.
There are probably several ways a global nuclear war could start. A nuclear war between two nations or groups of nations was a very real possibility during the “cold war” era. As mentioned earlier, a localized nuclear war, even if it totally destroyed the US or Russia or several other countries, would by itself cause little ultimate change in global population. This chapter explores circumstances under which a nuclear war aimed at establishing a minimal-regret population might occur.
First, it seems clear that such a war would have to be religiously motivated. We are talking here not just about killing on the order of six billion people: an ambitious or evil man could do this without batting an eye. The essential difference between a “minimal-regret” war and most others is the goal of destroying the world’s industrial capacity and economic basis. Most wars are motivated by a desire to acquire economic power, not destroy it. With the goal of economic power removed, some other intangible goal, of substantially greater importance, would have to take its place.
Could not the rational goal of saving the planet’s ecosystem be goal enough? Evidently not, in view of recent history. The process of destroying the world’s ecosystem is now well under way, and has been under way for a long time. The number of people who have killed, or even been willing to lay down their lives for, other species or future generations is essentially zero.
Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book Blood Rites, discusses the intimate relationship between war and religion. While one man’s killing another is frowned upon as murder, the accomplishment of killing tens of thousands of the enemy on the field of battle is a socially acceptable, prayed-for, glorious gift of God. General Robert E. Lee once remarked, on surveying a battlefield, “It is well that war is so terrible. We should otherwise grow too fond of it.”
If God does not wish for a war to reduce human population to a sustainable level, He will not allow it to happen. But all of Biblical history shows that war is one of His principal instruments. When God delivered the Jewish people out of Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land, He instructed them to annihilate every man, woman, and child of the thirty-one tribes that already occupied this land. Genocide? Of course. A holocaust? Certainly, for the thirty-one tribes who happened to be in the way. But for the Jews who slaughtered the previous residents of the Promised Land, it was simply carrying out the will of God. In fact, according to God, the Jews did not even deserve the victory. “It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations.” (Deut. 9:5).
Whole civilizations may be destroyed by a handful of dedicated men. The Aztec and Incan empires were at the height of their glory when small bands under Hernando Cortés and Francisco Pizarro brought them to their ends. As Michael Hart observed (The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History), “Pizarro’s conquest of an empire of over six million with a force of only 180 men is the most astonishing military feat in history.” The odds against Cortés, although not at great, were also incredible. He defeated an Aztec empire of five million with a force of just 600 men.
Annuit coeptis. He has favored our undertaking. In God we trust. It was considered “manifest destiny” for the US to occupy North America “from sea to shining sea.” The fact that the land had been occupied for thousands of years by the resident Indian population was of no consequence.
God does not shrink from bloodshed. He has already destroyed mankind once, via the Flood. If He has no objection to a minimal-regret war to establish sustainability, it may or may not happen. If He desires it, it will surely happen.
And, according to the Bible, there is every indication that He does desire it. Most of the books of the Old Testament document war, not peace. It is war, not peace, that drives men and nations to religion. The books of Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel, and others contain much prophecy about the destruction of the world by war. In the Book of Revelation, it is written,
“Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the Earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the Earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries…. The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages…. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the Earth.
“Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
“When the kings of the Earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city. O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’
“The merchants of the Earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more – cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls…and the bodies and souls of men. They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out, ‘Woe! Woe, O great city…. In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin.’”
It is often said that the prophecy of the Book of Revelation and the other apocalyptic books of the Bible are abstract and difficult to understand. The preceding passages are not abstract or difficult to understand. It states quite plainly that the great city that covers the Earth and seduces mankind with material wealth will be destroyed, in an hour. That is about as clear and explicit a statement as can be made.
And what about who will accomplish this. The man or organization that destroys the city and assumes control of the planet is referred to as the “beast.” With respect to the beast, it is written:
“The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.”
In other words, God will give the beast (world dictator) the authority to rule over mankind, after destroying the city that covers the Earth.
Well, you may say, that is all well and good, but just because it is in the Bible doesn’t mean a thing. Well, it doesn’t really matter whether you believe it or not. What matters is that billions of Christians and Jews believe it. And when it happens, they will view it as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, and accept it. If there is a nuclear war, the move by a single group to assume control of the planet will be viewed as a natural, God-directed, inevitable event.
What about Islam, the third great monotheistic religion of the world? Many Christians do not realize how similar in many ways Islam is to Christianity. The Biblical prophets and history are subsumed into Islam. The Koran teaches of the Day of Judgment, when Jesus shall return. (Toby Lester’s article, “What is the Koran,” in the January 1999 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, provides additional details on the similarities of Christianity and Islam.) There are, of course, many differences. The Koran does not dwell on Armageddon or the reign of the beast. In Islam, historical Jesus was a man – a prophet – but not God. “You cannot crucify God,” a Moslem friend of mine once told me. According to the Jewish scriptures, Abraham almost sacrifices his son Isaac, progenitor of the Israeli people; according to the Koran, Abraham almost sacrifices his son Ishmael, progenitor of the Islamic people. The concept of the Trinity and the intermediary role of priests, introduced by the Roman Catholic Church, are not part of Islam. Islam rejected the intermediary role of priests just as did Martin Luther in the Protestant reformation. Jesus was a man of peace, whereas Muhammad was a man of violence and war. The Koran exists only in Arabic; the Christian Bible may be translated. (That the Islam’s holy book, the Koran, exists only in Arabic is considered an important factor restricting the spread of Islam in the modern world; on the other hand, the unifying influence of the Koran on Arabic language, culture, and thought is undeniable.)
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam vary significantly with respect to the relationship of religion to the state. When asked about this relationship, Jesus’ response was, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto the Lord what is the Lord’s.” As discussed at length by D. H. Lawrence in Apocalypse, Christianity is a religion for individuals, not for states. It is impossible for any state to “turn the other cheek” and continue to exist. This is not true of Judaism or Islam. Both are quite comfortable with a religious state. The concept of “jihad,” or holy war, to defend and spread the faith is a dominant part of Islamic culture. All three religions are quite comfortable with slavery, but with some restrictions that will be discussed later.
What does all this mean with respect to a “minimal-regret” war to impose a single planetary government? What it means is that Christianity and Judaism expect it, and Islam is unopposed – if it happens it is the “will of Allah.” In Biblical prophecy, however, the entity that rules the world after the war of destruction of the cities is not Christian or Jewish, but a dictator authorized and empowered by God.
There is a large literature on prophecy, both Biblical and other. Some of the recent (in-print) books on this subject are the following:
1. The Bible (books of Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).
2. Apocalypse, by D. H. Lawrence
3. Observations Upon the Prophesies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John, by Sir Isaac Newton
4. The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey with C. C. Carlson
5. Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader, by Mitchell G. Reddish, Editor
6. The Millennium Book of Prophecy, by John Hogue
7. Millennium Prophecies, by A. T. Mann
8. Prophecies for the New Millennium, by James Manning
9. The Mayan Prophecies, by Adrian G. Gilbert and Maurice M. Cotterell
[A digression…please pardon the scientist in me. To me, it is very interesting that Sir Isaac Newton, regarded by many as the most influential scientist of all time (Hart’s The 100 lists him second, after Muhammad and before Jesus Christ and Buddha) was fascinated by biblical prophecy. His book, Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John is 323 pages long.
Newton’s book on the prophecies of Daniel has an interesting history. This book was reprinted by Arthur B. Robinson in 1991. Robinson’s edition (ISBN 0-942-487-02-8) is a photographic copy of Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the original Darby & Browne edition published in 1733 (six years after Newton’s death). It is interesting to note Newton’s objection to the use of prophecy to predict the future emphasis of the proscription on assigning dates to Biblical prophecies, as is much done today.
[Robinson’s discussion of the relationship of Newton’s laws to Einstein’s theory of relativity is also worth retelling. It is often said that Newton’s second law of motion was slightly incorrect, and that Einstein’s theory of special relativity corrected it. But as Petr Beckman notes in A History of Pi (recently reprinted by Barnes and Noble, ISBN 0-88029-418-3), Newton’s original formulation was completely correct. The second law of motion states that force is the time derivative of the product of mass times velocity
F = d(mv)/dt .
[What was done by many people following Newton was to assume that mass was a constant, so that it could be taken outside of the derivative:
F = m dv/dt .
[Once this is done, the equation is no longer consistent with special relativity – but Newton did not do this!
[As an aside, in no way is the preceding observation meant to diminish Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is an incredible accomplishment. What is truly amazing is that he did not develop his theory on the basis of empirical measurements, but on the basis of the beauty, elegance, and symmetry of the universe. (For more information about Newton and Einstein and other influential figures, see Michael H. Hart’s The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Revised and Updated 1992, Citadel Press.)]
The last four books in the list given above include prophecies from all cultures, not just Judeo-Christian theology (e.g., Nostradamus, Siener Nikolaas van Rensburg, Edgar Cayce, Mayan prophecy).
Much has been written on the art of war. Sun Tzu recognized that war was not a transient aberration for man, but a conscious recurrent state into which, and quite subject to rational analysis. Von Clausewitz asserted that war is a normal phase in the relations among states. John Keegan, in A History of Warfare, explores the historical, psychological, and sociological aspects of war, as does Barbara Ehrenreich in the work cited earlier. The Discovery Channel’s War and Civilization television series presents the entire history of human warfare. Niccolò Machiavelli explores means of acquiring and maintaining political control.
With respect to damage to the planet’s ecosystem, peace has been far more harmful than war ever was. Mankind has not been able to handle peace. Peace is currently destroying the planet! Peace without war is not in the cards for man. It is war, not peace, that defines human history.
To many, war is a truly religious experience. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to spend some free time at the Chittagong War Cemetery 1939-1945, a small but very peaceful and well-maintained, World War II cemetery in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Chittagong is quite near the Burmese border. Soldiers there saw ground action with the Japanese, and many allied airmen lost their lives in desperate missions from whom many never returned. I copied down a number of the inscriptions of the tombstones; some of them are listed in Appendix J.
One cannot be unmoved by the ultimate sacrifice of these men and their loved ones. As General Patton once remarked, “Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor pale in significance.”
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
At time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.
With respect to energy availability, there has never been a society like the present one, and there never will be again. The current human generation is consuming, in an evolutionary instant of time, the fabulous fossil-fuel storehouse of energy that has been and will be stocked only once in the evolution of Earth. Western society in general, and the US in particular, is awash in energy. In today’s world, energy is essentially free, and available on a massive scale – it is simply pumped out of the ground. The average energy cost of extracting the oil, gas, or coal is but a small percentage (e.g., 10-20%) of the energy obtained.
The massive amount of energy available to common citizens enables them to live like kings. In fact, many live far more comfortably than kings of earlier times. In terms of the services at his disposal, each US citizen is served by the equivalent of hundreds of slaves.
What has all this essentially free energy accomplished? It has enabled the US to transform itself into an egalitarian multicultural society. This type of society has never existed before. Multicultural societies have certainly existed before. Under slavery, the US population contained as many as 20 percent blacks overall, and up to 50 percent in some areas. India contained a variety of different castes, the members of which lived rigidly separate from each other. At its peak, the Roman Empire consisted of up to 40 percent slaves. What is different now is that the various cultures in the US – various races, religions, and cultures – all enjoy the same basic rights of citizenship.
It appears that all races have been slaves and owned slaves. The slave status of a child was usually determined by the slave status of the mother. One of the problems of slavery is that, after a few generations it becomes difficult to distinguish slaves from masters. The race-based slavery of North America minimized this problem by using skin color as a social marker. The Romans avoided the identification of slaves for security reasons (“Every slave we own is an enemy we harbor”) – they decided that they did not want the slaves to realize just how many of them there were, and be motivated to rebel. The rebellion of Spartacus confirmed their worst fears.
Because of access to an incredible amount of energy, all citizens can enjoy a high level of rights. In his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Robert Bork describes the radical individualism and the radical egalitarianism of US society. In an energy-poor society, common citizens would never be permitted the freedom of expression, freedom of activity, freedom to waste, that exists in the US today.
Women enjoy the same rights as men today because of energy. It is energy that has freed women from household chores to pursue the same jobs as men. Blacks enjoy the same rights as whites today because of energy. Massive numbers of Hispanics and Asians who cannot even speak English are permitted, even sought, in the US because of energy. Since everyone has access to an incredible standard of living, there is little need for a second class of citizens. Real slaves have been replaced by energy slaves.
In today’s high-energy society, women can do all that men can do. There is really just one area in which men truly outperform women. Men are natural-born killers, and women are not. A man in war can pick up a baby by its heels, swing it through the air, and smash its skull against the wall. A man can rip an assegai or bayonet into another man’s belly and disembowel him. In a high-energy environment, war is clean. A woman can press the button to release a cruise missile as easily as a man. When energy is gone, however, it will be back to basics, and men will once more be in charge of the fighting.
In earlier times, massive immigration to this country was permitted because the country still had land that could be taken from the Indians and given to immigrants. Later, when the land was gone, immigration continued because access to energy enabled large numbers of people to live in cities. The percentage of the population needed in agriculture to feed the urban population declined steadily, and the urban population grew.
In the US today, it is illegal to discriminate in employment and certain other areas with respect to age, sex, race, religion or national origin. All of these privileges arose because of access to large amounts of low-cost energy. And they will all disappear when energy is no longer essentially free.
You read from time to time that slavery is gone, that inequality among religious groups and ethnic groups is reduced, because modern America has a higher sense of morality than our ancestors did. Nothing is farther from the truth. As noted earlier, America is far less religious and moral than before. The reason why multiculturalism, radical individualism, radical egalitarianism, permissiveness inclusiveness, and pluralism are pervasive is because no one is hurting. In America, the “pie” is very large, and everyone gets a big slice. With respect to morality, America is truly “slouching toward Gomorrah,” as Robert Bork notes. Rights are high in America because “the rich can afford to be virtuous,” not because America’s morality is growing stronger. Morality in America is decreasing, not increasing.
When cheap energy is gone (and the word is WHEN, not IF), the profusion of rights and privileges will disappear. Present-day life in America is not in any sense a “zero sum game.” That someone has a high material lifestyle does not mean that someone else must go without. Because of access to massive amounts of low cost energy (and the technology to utilize it, of course), every one can have a lot. The waste, the species destruction, the pollution, the environmental destruction – for the time being, all of these external costs can be simply pushed off on someone else living in another country or a later generation.
What are rights? Rights are privileges granted to the members of a society, and they last only as long as the society can maintain itself and chooses to enforce those privileges. There are no “inalienable human rights.” Rights exist only in the context of a government and its laws. If your country is conquered, you do not have the right to the air in a jug. Americans enjoy an incredible degree of freedom and rights because America is a very wealthy country. When America falls, all of those rights will be gone. The right to employment or housing without regard to race, religion, gender, or national origin will be gone. The right to a trial by a jury of peers will be gone. The right to freedom of speech will be gone. The right to bear arms will be gone. The right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment will be gone. The right to life will be gone.
Without a government to back them up, statements of “rights” are meaningless. The 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights and all the statements of rights that followed it are nothing more than worthless scraps of paper without a government to back them up. Once food and defense are taken care of, everything else that a government spends money on is discretionary. In a high-energy environment, a lot of attention may be paid to human rights. In a low-energy environment, “rights” of minorities, which are difficult and expensive to enforce, are the first things to go.
When times get hard and there is no longer a near limitless abundance, people will look to any differences as a basis for obtaining more of the limited resources for themselves. Differences in race, differences in religion, differences in language, differences in ethnicity and national origin.