Last night, CNN hosted a seven-hour town hall to discuss climate change. The most remarkable thing about the whole affair is that a studio audience actually volunteered to sit through the entire event. I'm not sure if they were mostly prisoners on work release or sadomasochists punishing themselves for the thrill of it, but we do know that at least one audience member was an avowed eugenicist.
The Daily Wire reported on a disturbing exchange between the eugenics-loving town hall attendee and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
Martha Readyoff, identified by CNN as a teacher, said to Sanders: "Human population growth has more than doubled in the last 50 years, the planet cannot sustain this growth."
"Empowering women, and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact," Readyoff continued. "Would you be courageous enough to discuss this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe?"
"The answer's 'yes,'" Bernie responded. "Women in the United States of Americas, by the way, have a right to control their own bodies and make reproductive decisions."
"And the Mexico City agreement — which denies American aid to those organizations around the world that allow women to have abortions or even get involved in birth control — to me is totally absurd," Sanders continued. "So I think, especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies and where they can have the opportunity through birth control to control the number of kids they have, it's something I very strongly support."
Put more succinctly: Sanders thinks there are too many people in the world and he wants to thin the herd by killing babies — especially poor babies. It should be noted here that overpopulation is a pernicious and thoroughly debunked myth. We are not anywhere close to running out of room on the globe. At our current population level, everyone in the world could still fit comfortably into the state of Texas (and, with our porous borders, maybe one day they will).
Of course, resource distribution is a different question. The Earth can fit everyone, but can it feed everyone? The answer, again, is yes. There are many starving people in the world, but that's due to various convergent factors — corrupt governments being a significant one — that have nothing to do with any scarcity of resources. Thousands of years ago, the human population was a fraction of its current level, but poverty and starvation were far more common than they are today. That would seem to indicate that the sustainability problem has little, if anything, to do with population growth.
Bernie Sanders disagrees. He sees a world populated by normal people, on one hand, and surplus people on the other hand. His simple, if genocidal, solution is to throw away the surplus. This raises an obvious question: Why doesn't Sanders include himself in the surplus? As G.K. Chesterton once observed: "The answer to anyone who talks about the surplus population is to ask him whether he is the surplus population, or if he is not, how he knows he is not."
It is a curious fact that proponents of the overpopulation myth never seem to tally themselves in the "over" category. They are part of the population. Babies and poor people comprise the "over." This is a hideous argument coming from anyone, but it is especially grotesque and egregious to hear it come from an elderly politician. Bernie Sanders is approaching 80 years old. He has been gorging himself at the public trough for decades now. Soon, he will be too old and decrepit to even care for himself. If we are viewing human life through a materialist, reductionist lens, and tabulating value based on a human being's usefulness to society, it seems that Bernie Sanders fares even worse in the assessment than do unborn children. At least children still have potential. An unborn child might one day go on to cure cancer or invent an interstellar spaceship. Sanders has done neither of those things and I'm beginning to think he never will. So, if children with all of their infinite potential, can be discarded as useless burdens, what should we do with a geriatric socialist? Indeed, what should the geriatric socialist do with himself if he truly believes that there are too many people on Earth sucking up oxygen and hogging our allegedly dwindling resources?
Yet Sanders will not elect to strike a blow to overpopulation in the most direct way that any of us can. And I don't think he should. I am not advocating that overpopulationists commit mass suicide — I'm only saying that they would if they took their own claims seriously. Thankfully, they don't. They cannot bear to view themselves the way they view the unborn. They believe that they, personally, have inherent worth and dignity. Their lives matter. The toll their existence takes on the environment is worth the cost. And they are right about all of that. Now they just need to extend that principle to every human being.