Sterilizing Those Pesky Humans: Earth Day with Paul Ehrlich

Every April 22 is Earth Day. As one who studies Soviet Russia, I can’t help notice that the day coincides with the birthday of Vladimir Lenin. The inaugural Earth Day occurred April 22, 1970, no less than Lenin’s birth centennial.

This is most ironic. Lenin is a decaying symbol of central planning, which, regrettably, is the ideological preference of many of those filling the streets on Earth Day. Although Lenin was a collectivist, not an environmentalist, he is frequently recycled, as mortuary specialists from Russia’s health ministry regularly re-embalm him in his tomb.

Lenin had no respect for life. He declared certain people “harmful insects.” In Lenin’s deadly worldview, pesky humans were not precious, special, unrepeatable; they were disposable.

That brings me to a living symbol of Earth Day: Paul Ehrlich. Dr. Ehrlich’s explosive bestseller, The Population Bomb, inspired the freshman class that first Earth Day, embodying the wildest fears of apocalypse mongers. The great Johnny Carson was, sadly, one of Ehrlich’s dupes, giving him a platform on “The Tonight Show” dozens of times.

Much has been said about Ehrlich’s book. But as author John Berlau reports, one item has been conveniently sunk into a land-fill. “He [Ehrlich] flirted with a proposal to require adding contraceptive material to all food items in the United States,” writes Berlau in Eco-Freaks.

“But Ehrlich’s most drastic—and contemptuous—measures were reserved for the third world. Ehrlich advocated that all men in India who had three or more children be forcibly sterilized.”

Really? That was something I needed to see for myself, certainly never learning this in my public education. So, I tracked down a September 1971 edition of The Population Bomb.

What Ehrlich wrote is jaw-dropping. Dealing first with pesky Americans, he wrote (pages 130-31):

“[T]he first task is population control at home. How do we go about it? Many of my colleagues feel that some sort of compulsory birth regulation would be necessary to achieve such control. One plan often mentioned involves the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired population size. Those of you who are appalled at such a suggestion can rest easy. The option isn’t even open to us, since no such substance exists.

If the choice now is either such additives or catastrophe, we shall have catastrophe. It might be possible to develop such population control tools, although the task would not be simple. Either the additive would have to operate equally well and with minimum side effects against both sexes, or some way would have to be found to direct it only to one sex and shield the other.”

As for pesky (non-white) folks in places like India, Ehrlich was less patient. On pages 151-52, he favored “sterilizing all Indian males with three or more children,” and with the direct help of the U.S. government. “We should have volunteered logistic support in the form of helicopters, vehicles, and surgical instruments,” advised Ehrlich. “We should have sent doctors to aid in the program by setting up centers for training para-medical personnel to do vasectomies.”

Was this “coercion?” asked Ehrlich. Of course, but it was “coercion in a good cause.” Immediate action was imperative, assessed the professor. It was, after all, 1970, and the human race had precious little time. Ehrlich warned of humans metastasizing all over Mother Earth. He said stoically:

“I wish I could offer you some sugarcoated solutions, but I’m afraid the time for them is long gone. A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells…. Treating only the symptoms of cancer may make the victim more comfortable at first, but eventually he dies—often horribly…. We must shift our efforts from treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions. The pain may be intense.”

To borrow from other scaremonger imagery of the era, such as the hysterical propaganda film Soylent Green, it was only a matter of time before the helpless masses started consuming one another. Only government action by anointed elites could save us from Armageddon.

Today, Ehrlich remains an icon, holding a plum spot at Stanford as the Bing Professor of Population Studies. Because he’s a liberal, a “progressive,” the 78-year-old has gotten away with this, much like Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood matron, who ran a “Negro Project,” spoke at a KKK rally, labeled certain pesky people “human weeds” and “imbeciles” and “morons,” and preached “race improvement.”

For icons of the left, there’s no need to say “I’m sorry.” The sins of the fathers and mothers of the progressive left are buried with the trash, never to be recycled, especially at Earth Day.

— Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,” and the newly released “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

  • PhillipGaley

    . . . . interesting, . . . interesting, . . . who knows what evil lurks in the mind of some men, . . . but, you cannot with mere historical facts have dissuaded Malthus nor his Malthusians; for, they are convinced of things which are of a religious nature—beliefs—this, in spite of the fact that, they hold position and money in supposed centers of learning(?), . . .

  • forcingchange

    You might find my essay on the history of Earth Day interesting. It's titled "All For Gaia: Earth Day and Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World."

    • rld77

      Post Christian world??? Doesn't sound good to me. Oh and Gaia– kinda like Santa, does not exist.

  • rld77

    ok– there IS an upside here–sterilize all muslims.

    • SterilizeEmAll

      That's actually what Ehrlich intended. If he had been listened to and his strategies implemented there would never have been a problem with radical Islam affecting the west. Overpopulation in Muslim countries is part of the problem.

  • roxannadanna

    Forced sterilization, contraceptive tainted food — one thing is proven: these people are soulless – and heartless, too.

    • nina

      Soulless and heartless they may be. But our planet is groaning under the mass of humanity proliferating without thinking of the future. If people will not begin to think about this and voluntarily use contraceptives, mother nature has a few surprises for us, not the least of which will be hunger, as yet unknown diseases, tsunamis, etc.

      • Nick Shaw

        Tsunamis? Twit!

    • Nick Shaw

      I guarantee you, Rox, it won't be the "masters" that are subject to these measures. Imagine all the Einsteins, Reagans and yes, even Zeros like the Clown in Chief we have lost due to the machinations of those who want to think for us, you know, for our own good.

      • roxannadanna

        Spot on Nick! We have too many Americans (like Nina) who are willing to allow someone else do for us what they decide is best for us and in the process, we lose more liberty.

        As C.S. Lewis said:
        Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.

  • deedee4him

    There will be a post-christian world after the rapture and it will not be pretty. I enjoyed Paul Ehrlich's blog and couldn't agree more….lets see; if a baby in the womb is not a safe place since 1973 than us living breathing pests over populating the earth right now are really in trouble! I liked roxannadanna's comments too.

    God is in control….not man! deedee4him

  • brimp

    There wasn't a compound that could be added to the water/food supply back then to decrease our fertility. Now there is. On the face of it, genetically modifying plants and animals should be beneficial to us. While there are some benefits, there are also harmful effects including lower fertility. Google "harmful effects of genetically modified food" to find the research. If monsters like Ehrlich desire to reduce our fertility and as the Science Czar he can influence which science research projects are funded then it is not out of the realm of the possible to conclude that the harmful effects of GM food are not accidental. Besides GM, there is also plastics that may reduce fertility.

    • nina

      Why tamper with the body? Haven't you heard of contraceptives?

      • brimp

        Using contraceptives is a choice that you can make for yourself. Monsters like Ehrlich want to make that decision for you. They can't trust you to chose not reproduce. At least, that's what it looks like.

        • Nick Shaw

          Nina wants to be the one handing them out.

  • Amused

    Oh boy , I knew it only a matter of time before this one turned up on FPM . Now lets see how long it will take to link to Democrats , Liberals any "Non Republican " and finally to that "author of evil " himself Obama .

  • Amused

    C'mon now …WHERE are the FLOURIDE BOYS ????

    • Jim

      Just when you thought you could relax and stop worrying about Right Wing Kooks and Fluorids along comes Green Peace with another warning about about the ion.
      Jane Houlihan, senior vice-president of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit organization. "What is considered safe today won't necessarily be thought safe tomorrow."

      Gird up your loins the battle starts a new.

  • Jim

    Erlich is a day late and a dollar . The public is already killing them selves off. Japan ,Europe and maybe some other places refuse to have children. So their populations are shrinking.
    Black and perhaps Hispanic females are flocking to the abortion clinics. Black males are committing suicide at record rates.The Muslims in Africa are killing Blacks as fast as they can. The Blacks in South Africa are killing Whites and killing each other with aids. China is limiting children. Who knows what else?
    So Mr. Erlich need not sharpen his scissors and he can enjoy his old age and good food..

  • nina

    What are you talking about? Our population has doubled in the last fifty years.

  • Nick Shaw

    Nina, it took three comments to show you are a complete egomaniacal twit. Do you honestly think humans on this green earth are the be all and end all? You have another thing coming. Over 95% of any animal ever, EVER evolved on this planet has gone extinct. That should tell you something right there. There have always been "as yet unknown diseases", there have always been tsunamis (what that has to do with population, I have no idea, unless you are the kind that thinks Guam may tip over) and the earth is not "groaning" under the weight of humans. That's plain stupid. We, and our polution, are less to the planet than a flea on a horse. (cont.)

  • Nick Shaw

    (from above) Nature (being humans and all living organisms) and the earth will always find a way to adapt. It always has and will until the sun dies out. To think that we, after only 200K years or so, are making any difference whatsoever is simply laughable and requires a huge ego to believe. Humans too, will adapt and, in fact, evolve further. People will still go hungry and die, wars will still happen and people will die. It would be folly to stop either 'cause that is our best form of population control. I know it's harsh to say but, that is our nature. Deal with it. But, don't tell me how many children I should have. People like you are neither my master or God.

    • roxannadanna

      Amen – amen – and – AMEN!

      And on the lines of "don't tell me how many children I can have" —- do not tell me I have to recycle. I'm smart enough to know recycling is the sensible thing to do.I can do this on my own without another police force making me a criminal. I don't need the garbage police checking my garage or putting chips in my trash to monitor me.

      But "let me be clear": I am known as the recycling queen in my circle!

      • Nick Shaw

        We could fill books with what they think they have a right to tell us to do, for our own good, and that mindset is only accelerating under "let me be clear". The only trash that shouldn't be recycled are progressive /socialist / communist control freaks and their ideas. We'll muddle through just fine.

  • SterilizeEmAll

    We should have put contraceptives in the water supply as Ehrlich said. if anything we did not listen to Ehrlich enough and that is why we have the problems we do, including our economic problems. Our society can only survive if we cut our population in half. Ehrlich for President!

  • Windy

    Ehrlich and Carson represent the decline of Western science. Carson's flawed science and outright ignorance is being highlighted in a new book, 'Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson'

    Ehrlich was flat out wrong with his awful fear mongering predictions of mass starvation. Yet these pseudoscientists are revered by a groups of radical anti-humanists. This cult of pseudoscience worshippers is helping to destroy Western science and the age of reason..

  • ganymede

    Amazing. You people will stop at nothing to delegitimize progessive, liberal people. I don't know anyone who takes Ehrlich seriously. Ehrlich was wrong then and is wrong now. Evolution and continuing growth in places like China and India is reducing the number of births. At this point, nothing you can do will stop Obama who, with all his fault, is at least trying to deal with real world issues. What does the right have to offer asides from bad propaganda, greed and a desire the 47% or 99% to peonage. I wish you people would wake up and get a life.