At least Bernie Sanders is an equal opportunity misanthrope. He doesn’t like rich people, and it turns out he doesn’t necessarily like poor people, either.

At the CNN town hall on climate change, a questioner asked the socialist senator if he’d be “courageous” enough to endorse population control to save the planet. Sanders answered “yes,” and then, after referring to abortion rights, endorsed curtailing population growth, “especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies.”

He’s looking at you, sub-Saharan Africa.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

The Sanders riff is the latest instance of a rising anti-natalism on the left, which has gone from arguing that carbon emissions are a problem to arguing that human beings are a problem. They release carbon emissions, don’t they?

When a proposition has the support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who questions the morality of having children, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, who has discussed punishing people for having children, it’s on the way to universal assent among a certain segment of soi-disant thoughtful progressives.

A headline in The New York Times even asked, “Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?” Thus proving that, whatever our other virtues, we are at times the most ridiculous and self-loathing species.

Undergirding the anti-natalist position is the belief that we are facing a global catastrophe, such that additional babies will tip the planet into uninhabitability for everyone. This goes beyond the best evidence, and discounts the human capacity for adaptation that is one of our chief attributes.

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The view that human beings are an unsustainable drain on limited resources goes back to the 18th-century thinker Thomas Malthus and, more recently, the Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich. In his 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich thunderously pronounced, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over.”

In the event, we figured out how to make agriculture more efficient and have been feeding people just fine (when not prevented from doing so by wars and other man-made calamities). Nonetheless, Ehrlich hasn’t stopped predicting the explosion of his population bomb ever since, telling The Guardian recently that the collapse of civilization is “a near certainty.”

In his original work, Ehrlich put an emphasis on overly fertile Third World countries, just as Bernie Sanders did the other night. But if consumption and carbon emissions are the concern, it’s rich people in developed countries who are the bigger problem and should be dealt with accordingly (a task for which Sanders is dismayingly well-suited).

What are we to make of an agenda that seeks to diminish the number of human beings overall and to make those who enjoy material prosperity less wealthy?

Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute notes how rising incomes — considered an unalloyed good by anyone who experiences them — invariably increase energy consumption. Insofar as a sweeping anti-development, anti-consumption program like the Green New Deal is “diametrically opposed to the aspirations of nearly all individuals,” he writes, it is “antihuman.”

At a more fundamental level, the anti-natalists have a gross materialistic view of humanity. For them, we are a series of inputs and outputs, and if one particular output is considered undesirable (in this case, carbon emissions), it reduces the value of human beings altogether. No one who isn’t a cracked ideological extremist or perversely blinkered economist actually looks at people this way. It doesn’t account for relationships or for joy, for the wondrous distinctiveness of every person, no matter how poor or humble.

People aren’t a burden; they are a resource and a gift. Any movement that regards them any other way is profoundly misguided and deeply anti-humane. Build windmills if you must, but don’t try to scare people out of having children — or much worse, facilitate abortions — in your zeal to shave some fraction of a degree off the global temperature 80 years from now.

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Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.


(21) comments

The Mouse of Death

[censored]It would behoove us to increase the population to ten trillion people so that we can be fruitful and multiply like two bacteria in a Coke bottle so when the Coke bottle is crammed with people Nature will intrude and kill everybody off in a nuclear war or an pandemic or mass starvation. We are indeed bemezzled by Wisconsin with its 200 million people standing on top of each other like sardines in a matchbox.


Lowry starts out by disingenuously labeling Sanders a socialist and goes downhill from there. Like most of the wingnut crowd, he never supplies any answers for the serious challenges we face. He only offers name-calling and excuses. In the end none of it will matter. The republican murder/suicide plan will leave everyone equally dead when the planet is uninhabitable.


It may be helpful to point out what Trump said on this very subject. "Yesnoyesnoyesnoyesnoyesno, I've done more than any tyrant in history, yesnoyesnoyesno, is anybody gonna eat that last cheeseburger?" Hint, pointing out that the Democrats have and can hold opinions even though there is a faint breeze blowing is not the smartest thing a conservative columnist can do. It only points out how wishy-washy and scatter-brained the president is.


This is perhaps the most intellectually dishonest essay ever penned by Mr. Lowry, one of our most dishonest political pundits to begin with. I certainly would like to see the supporting evidence he could provide to sustain how he characterizes what these two indviduals are saying: "When a proposition has the support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who questions the morality of having children, and Bill Nye the Science Guy, who has discussed punishing people for having children, it’s on the way to universal assent among a certain segment of soi-disant thoughtful progressives."

And the charge against what he purports Sanders to be saying about forcing African women to have fewer pregnancies is laughable. African women for decades have been seeking birth control to have smaller families to improve the lives both of their own families and their nations. It is a concept that has proven itself all over the world in Third World nations. To call this anti-human is about as absurdly dishonest as any person can get, and Rich Lowry has gotten there.


Lowry : the king of the bottom feeders, is certainly scraping the bottom of the bucket, on this fantasy report., which he is making, up as he goes along Most folks say Sanders would ,in fact, make a wonderful president, especially compared to the scumbag ,slime ball liar, we currently have. It is not too hard to see it.


Most folks think sanders would make a good President. It appears the poll numbers seem to say something different, sanders is currently behind and dropping lower daily. There is no way the Majority of Americans think a Socialist would be President and be a good President. I’m not sure where you got this idea but you sir are an idiot for thing so. American people had a choice in the last election and chose Hillary over Sanders. Sanders could not even compete with Hillary.


“Currently behind and dropping lower daily” - as of this very moment Bernie is leading the New Hampshire democratic primary at 29%, with Biden polling in second place at 21%, a margin that has steadily widened, as you put it, “daily”. It seems reality does not reflect your wishful imagination.


Facts don't matter to the wingnut crowd.


My, you certainly know how to write with the precision of a drunk staggering down an alley looking for a place to leak, new2. "Most folks think sanders would make a good President. It appears the poll numbers say something different , , , " If you say most people think sanders would make a good president but that the polls say the opposite, which position would you want us to believe you are taking? Is that what you learned as a crack HR man for a Fortune 300 company, how to talk out of both sides of your mouth? I could believe that, but not much else about you.


The Newt conveniently slithers away from the fact that the "leadership" of the Democratic Party did everything they could to promote Mrs. Clinton and ensure that Mr. Sanders would not get the nomination.

Comment deleted.

Comrade Zerocock is constantly accusing people on these forums of drug use, slandering them on a daily basis. Why is he not banned for violating the Terms of Use?


Quite a disingenuous read of Sanders’ comments, considering he was advocating for expanding women’s access to birth control for those who would like it, not enforcing some manner of population control. Of course we can expect nothing less than a bad faith reading from the National Review, a conservative publication, breathlessly reprinted by the Tribune without comment. Keep in mind the wealthiest among us will produce the most carbon emissions and suffer the least consequence for it. Don’t buy the misdirection.


I agree with your excellent observation on the falsity of Rich Lowry's characterization of Sanders' comments. I disagree, however, with you somehow finding the Tribune complicit in this. It is a newspaper. A good newspaper has a lively op-ed section that allows all shades of opinion to be expressed. It is called democracy, and if it edited other's opinions to fit its own, it would not be a newspaper. It would be the National Review and Fox News and Breitbart.

random annoying bozo

when ever I see Bernie, i get this picture of him in my mind of him as president, sitting in a lawn chair on the white house lawn, frantically waving his arms, and yelling at cars to slow down as they drive by.


Kind of like Trump waving his tiny little hands while yelling that he was right about the hurricane threatening Alabama all along, bozo? I am deep in my 70s and think both men, and Biden, and Warren, are too old to be president. But Bernie, Warren and Biden are far more intellectually primed and perceptive than the fat bozo in the White House right now. It must be thrilling for you to have had the only bozo on record getting into the presidency, representing all the bozos in the land like you.


How sad that the Bozo is so intellectually lazy that he doesn't bother to educate himself about the policies Sanders has spent decades developing. Like Lowry and the rest of the wingnut crowd he can only offer name-calling and ignorance of the serious issues we face.


what a ridiculous column by lowry, probably one of his worst ever. There a lot more countries that are poor than just in Africa. More extremism from Lowry. It is true that women in many poor countries have no rights, no authority over their own bodies or their own life. And they are burdened with more children than they want or can afford because of a male dominated society. Hopefully that is slowly changing as many young women are speaking out in those countries and pushing for equal rights between men and women. That should be the crux of lowry's column, not bashing Sanders or anyone else on the democratic side who are for allowing women to be able to control their own life.


What countries that suppress women and are male dominated now allow them to speak out.


new-2too-licks, an over the hill geezer, with-out no cause. A poor misbegotten soul, nothing but a hobbit , who never was a success in life, still blaming Obama The poor sap was "left behind" like he is now,though currently receiving "it" directly, in the behind and that must hurt. remember....you always want to be in front.,dudesickle.


Afghanistan for one fox news newt. Women have a lot more rights now than when the taliban was in power. You can google many others fox news newt, if you weren't so lazy.


It"s called stupidity and it can"t be fixed , with newts2 and zerokox, they "re beyond learning anything. way,way,way, beyond.

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