QUOTE: "The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable, but a good thing..."

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-07-25 22:27

I mentioned yesterday in the debate about Charlie Pedersen's speech some pretty horrifying quotes from some relatively mainstream environmentalists. Some of you told me you had a problem finding the post I mentioned, which was a comment attached to this post, so here's the 'money part,' answering a question from a chap called Den: a series of quotes from mainstream environmentalists that support Charlie Pedersen's position that there are environmentalists about who see themselves "at war with the human race."

Den you said: "I would remind you also, that even after specifically saying that you would address the points I raised, you never rose to the challenge of finding ONE source outside of your oft-quoted cabal of libertarian/anarcho-capitalist sources to strengthen your outlandish claims that mainstream environmentalism subscribes generally to a 'deep ecology' mindset."

Oh, I thought that mindset was obvious enough.... It seems manifestly clear that mainstream environmentalism does not always recognise mankind's right of survival, does not put human beings first (indeed, quite the opposite), and values the so-called 'intrinsic values' of wild nature and natural processes over the human values of human wealth and happiness -- in opposition to the so-called 'anthropocentric' view that 'deep ecology' specifically opposes. In fact, this might be said to be characteristic of the 'deep ecology' mindset.

Your own earlier statement, for example, clearly puts humans second, and is put without supporting argument as if it is entirely self-evident. "Humans," you say, "are important primarily in their capacity to provide stewardship for the eco-system." As Phil H. says in response, "Why?" Primarily important because they get to sweep the rain forests, and rake the beaches? Is that why we're here?

If you want examples of mainstream ecologists who subscribe to a 'dep ecology' mindset, I could mention how mainstream environmentalists opposed the fighting of the fires that tore apart Yellowstone Park -- these fires were "natural" and so sacrosanct; I could mention the opposition by environmentalists to the harvesting of the Pacific yew from 1989 to 1997 in a bid to develop paclitaxel (Taxol), a revolutionary anti-cancer drug; or the local Green party's opposition to Ruakura's research to find a cure for multiple scleroris; or the worldwide opposition to the production of Golden Rice, which can help with third-world anaemia, blindness and death.

Or I could point out that mainstream environmentalists are happy to continue with the DDT ban, despite it not even being clear that DDT is toxic to birds as claimed, and despite the ban arguably being responsible for the deaths by malaria of 55 million people due to malaria.

Or I could just offer you these views below from environmentalists within the mainstream, and that make clear that positions I've mentioned above are not surprising, given the view within mainstream environmentalism that human beings come second, at best. (I've included the Muir and Graber quotes just so they're all in one place:

  • World Wildlife Fund leader Prince Phillip of England told the UN in 1990 he wished to be reincarnated as "a killer virus to lower population levels."

  • Honorable representatives of the great saurians of older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty.
    - A benediction to alligators by John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, quoted with approval as "a good epigram" by environmentalist Bill McKibben in 'The End of Nature' (New York: Random House, 1989) pg. 176

  • We have wished...for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us back into the stone age...
    - Environmentalist Stewart Brand in 'The Whole Earth Catalog' [Stewart might recently have seen the light, if his recent comments are anything to go by, that that "Over the next ten years ... the mainstream of the environmental movement will reverse its opinion and activism in four major areas: population growth, urbani­zation, genetically engineered organisms, and nuclear power."]

  • You think Hiroshima was bad, let me tell you, mister, Hiroshima wasn't bad enough!
    - Faye Dunaway as the voice of "Mother Earth/Gaia" in the 1991 WTBS series 'Voice of the Planet'

  • Given the total, absolute, and final disappearance of Homo Sapiens, then, not only would the Earth's Community of Life continue to exist but ... the ending of the human epoch on Earth would most likely be greeted with a hearty 'Good riddance!'
    - Paul W. Taylor, ethics professor at City University, NYC, in 'Respect for Nature' (Princeton Univ Press, 1989) pg. 115

  • If you'll give the idea a chance ... you might agree that the extinction of Homo Sapiens would mean survival for millions if not billions of other Earth-dwelling species.
    - The 'Voluntary Extinction Movement,' quoted by Daniel Seligman in 'Down With People,' in 'Fortune' magazine, September 23, 1991

  • The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable, but a good thing...
    - Editorial in 'The Economist,' December 28, 1988

  • A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people ... We must shift our efforts from treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer... We must have population control ... by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.
    - Paul Ehrlich, 'The Population Bomb' (Ballantine Books 1968) pg. xi, pg. 166

  • ...Man is no more important than any other species ... It may well take our extinction to set things straight.
    - David Foreman, 'Earth First!' spokesman, quoted by M. John Fayhee in 'Backpacker' magazine, September 1988, pg. 22

  • I see no solution to our ruination of Earth except for a drastic reduction of the human population.
    - David Foreman, 'Earth First!,' quoted by Gregg Easterbrook in The New Republic, April 30, 1990, pg. 18

  • If radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human populations back to sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS.
    - from a good old Earth First! periodical, quoted in 'Access to Energy,' Vol.17 No.4, December 1989

  • As radical environmentalists, we can see AIDS not as a problem but a necessary solution.
    - 'Earth First!' periodical, quoted in 'Planet Stricken' by Alan Pell Crawford and Art Levine, Vogue magazine, September 1989, pg. 710

  • I founded Friends of the Earth to make the Sierra Club look reasonable. Then I founded the Earth Island Institute to make Friends of the Earth look reasonable. Earth First! now makes us look reasonable. We're still waiting for someone to come along and make Earth First! look reasonable.
    - "Mainstream" environmentalist David Brower, quoted by Virginia Postrel in 'Reason' magazine, April 1990, pg. 24

  • We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have...more value - to me - than another human body, or a billion of them...Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.
    - David M. Graber, National Park Service biologist, in a review of Bill McKibben's 'The End of Nature,' in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 22, 1989, pg. 9

  • Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society...all potential parents [should be] required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.
    - Herr David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth, quoted in 'The Coercive Utopians' by Rael Jean Isaac and Erich Isaac (1985 Regnery Gateway Inc.)

  • I got the impression that instead of going out to shoot birds, I should go out and shoot the kids who shoot birds.
    - Paul Watson, a founder of 'Greenpeace,' quoted in 'Access to Energy' Vol.17 No.4, December 1989

  • We, in the Green movement, aspire to a cultural model in which the killing of a forest will be considered more contemptible and more criminal than the sale of 6-year old children to Asian brothels.
    - Carl Amery of the Green Party, quoted in 'Mensch & Energie,' April 1983

  • A reporter asked Dr. Wurster whether or not the ban on the use of DDT would not encourage the use of the very toxic materials, Parathion, Azedrin and Methylparathion, the organo-phosphates, [and] nerve gas derivatives. And he said 'Probably'. The reporter then asked him if these organo-phosphates did not have a long record of killing people. And Dr. Wurster, reflecting the views of a number of other scientists, said 'So what? People are the cause of all the problems; we have too many of them; we need to get rid of some of them; and this is as good a way as any.'
    - Victor J. Yannacone, Jr., lawyer and co-founder of the Environmental Defense Fund, on EDF co-founder Dr. Charles Wurster, at a May 20, 1970 speech at the Union League Club in New York City. Published in the Congressional Record as Serial No.92-A of Hearings on Federal Pesticide Control Act of 1971, pg.266-267

  • Shit happens. They were in the croc's territory.
    - A commenter at 'Not PC' in response to the death of two human beings by crocodile attack.

TAGS: Environment, Conservation, Ethics, Quotes

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They slur mankind

F L Light's picture

As "environmentalist" makes for awkward metre, I use ecologist.

Ecologists uncivilized have grown,
Who all humane dominions would disown.


Ecologists, illogically slanderous,
Supreme misanthropy would proffer us.


Ecologists, illogically slanderous,
Impugn no misanthropic impetus.


Ecologists illogically slur mankind,
To loathsome contrarieties inclined.


Ecologists illogically slur mankind
And purpose in vituperation find.


Ecologists illogically slur mankind,
To little variability confined.

Recent Polls?

Jeff Perren's picture

I agree Ross that many have become what you say. I'm just unsure where 'the mainstream' is today. Which is why...

Peter (or anyone else),

I'd be interested to see a more up to date poll. 1997 is 9+ years ago. I'm not by nature an optimist, but I suspect there has been a shift, based partly on the sorts of things you mention. When even those who were radical 'viros 20-40 years ago change their tune, are others following their lead or have they just made themselves irrelevant in the eyes of what used to be their followers?

I've read both Crichton's speech and novel, and agree completely. What's particularly interesting are the science critics responses. You have to give them a sort of back-handed credit. These guys don't go down without a struggle.

I spent considerable time over a several year period studying the subject, but don't have much current good info. If you know of some that is unbiased I'd be interested.

Here are some recent ones I've run across, from two ends of the spectrum. I've not yet read any I trust substantially, though some are better than others.




I'm strongly inclined to distrust the views of anyone who says that global warming is occurring and largely human-influenced. Still, it's difficult to believe that all those scientists are deliberately biasing their conclusions. That's just not consistent with what I know of scientists from extensive first hand experience.

I'd be interested in any objective sites you know of. (I've read all the stuff on Capitalism Magazine, but am looking for those focusing on the science, not the ethical-political debate, which I consider settled. 'Settled' in the sense that anyone on the 'viros side in that is not worth debating, just as I wouldn't debate a jihadist.)

A split

Peter Cresswell's picture

We aren't out of the woods by any means -- for example, a 1997 survey published in American Demographics found that fully a fourth of all Americans 'see nature as sacred, want to stop corporate polluters, are suspicious of big business, are interested in voluntary simplicity, and are willing to pay to clean up the environment and stop global warming.' So there's still some way to go.

But I think you're possibly right that there's been a 'thawing' of attitudes among some environmentalists who do realise that some of their heroes are actually insane, and many of their explicit goals are anti-human; and there's also been an increasing willingness to call anti-human environmentalism what it is: a form of faith-based religious fundamentalism. See for example the success of Michael Chrichton's otherwise uninteresting book 'State of Fear,' and his speech on religious environmentalists linked here that got wide coverage when delivered.

A few years back that would have put him in nutbar territory himself, but no longer, or at least not completely.

The thawing can be see also in the wider exposure for explicitly free-market environmentalists such as PERC and Environment Probe who have been gaining more and more attention for their property-rights-based views -- and also for the rise of PERC alumni Gale Norton and Lynn Scarlett -- and in the debate amongst environmentalists that has been increasing in recent years between what Charlie Pedersen and Michael Crichton call the 'religious environmentalists' on the one hand -- who oppose anything other than Earth First nonsense as vicious anthropocentrism -- and on the other the more sane 'techno' environmentalists such as Bjorn Lomborg and even Patrick Moore(who co-founded Greenpeace and left when he saw tham become insane) who see technology as something that can cure problems rather than cause them.

And Stewart Brand, who edited those 'Whole Earth Catalogues' that were so popular with hippes back in the day, and who I think had one quote included in that litany above, had this to say recently about that debate and about what he calls techno-environmentalism:

"Over the next ten years ... the mainstream of the environmental movement will reverse its opinion and activism in four major areas: population growth, urbani­zation, genetically engineered organisms, and nuclear power."

The reason?

There are a great many more 'environmental romantics' than there are scientists, which means that it can take a while to notice that the science doesn't fit their preconceived notions - sometimes up to thirty years; for example, population growth rates peaked in 1968, but the scare stories only recently began to slow down.

For those environmentalists who are scientifically literate and who aren't yet ethical basket-cases, Brand suggests you will see them changing their views quite rapidly on issues such as genetic engineering of food, and nuclear power.

As I said, there is debate. but I'm not sure yet that the debate has been won.

The enviros have simply become much slicker.

Ross Elliot's picture

The enviros have simply become much slicker. In the early nineties there weren't any Green members of parliament in NZ. Now there are eight (?). They realised that parking lot protests have a limited effect. So they joined the club.

These guys learn. They are political animals after all. At their conferences they still discuss whether a cat has the right to kill a mouse (oh, yes) but now they do it while sipping chardonnay and taking notes on their PDAs.

Current quotes

Jeff Perren's picture


I agree the 'viros are the lowest form of 'intellectual' life, but I find it curious that all the quotes are from the early 90s at the latest. I have a suspicion that the pendulum has swung somewhat and that the sort of radical rhetoric these quotes represent is not mainstream these days.

It's possible, of course, that something similar to U.S. political history has occurred. What's today mainstream would have been considered radical socialism a hundred years ago.

Do you think a similar phenomenon has occurred, or have the 'viros essentially lost the intellectual war, though some have not given up?

Granted, as the failure of the U.S. Congress to authorize drilling in ANWAR, in the midst of historically high oil prices, attests we are hardly out of the woods.

Still, I wonder what the actual state of affairs is today.

And as they're not fools...

Peter Cresswell's picture


Enviro-NAZIs! Doctor Jones:

Ross Elliot's picture


"I hate these guys!" —Indiana Jones.

Many in the farming industry have gone to to some trouble in distancing themselves from the manifest veracity of Charlie Pedersen's speech. These are the same people that regularly moan about the interference of the state on their properties, in their lives. But when someone has the balls to stand up and tell it *exactly* like it is, they run for cover. Moderates, the lot of them.

If Pedersen's speech isn't published in the next FreeRad then more fool the editors.

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