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The Population Tinderbox

By Keith Kloor
Oct 21, 2009 6:12 PMNov 19, 2019 9:40 PM


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Population has long been the third rail of environmental discourse. So while a lot of people are rightly incredulous at Rush Limbaugh's ugly rant against Andy Revkin's suggestion that people should perhaps be rewarded for having less children, I can't say that I'm all that shocked by it. Really. First of all, this is Limbaugh being Limbaugh. He's addicted to being outlandish and offensive. In the same segment he suggested that Revkin help reduce population on the planet by committing suicide, Limbaugh also offered this gem on Obama and his team:

Can you think of any other administration in this country where a president or a communications specialist or anybody else would run around and start praising Mao Zedong as a role model, as a philosopher to follow?

But more to the point, millions of religious conservatives have a gag reflex to this hypothetical idea by Revkin:

Should you get credit "” if we're going to become carbon-centric "” for having a one-child family when you could have had two or three.

Revkin is to be lauded for being willing to pose this "thought experiment." As a long-time environmental journalist, he's surely aware of the inflamed passions--from both the left and right side of the political spectrum-- that often seems to overtake any discussion on population issues. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to soft pedal what Limbaugh said. It was despicable. In fact, I thought Tom Yulsman captures the disgust felt by many, myself included, with this post. On a related note, I should say that I find myself in agreement with Joe Romm on the supposed connection between climate change and overpopulation--which he believes is a misdirection. And I think he's right on that score. I also happen to think that George Monbiot got it mostly right with this recent piece on the issue.

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