From today’s The Rush Limbaugh Show (via Media Matters):
LIMBAUGH: I think these militant environmentalists, these wackos, have so much in common with the jihad guys. Let me explain this. What do the jihad guys do? The jihad guys go to families under their control and they convince these families to strap explosives on who? Not them. On their kids. Grab your 3-year-old, grab your 4-year-old, grab your 6-year-old, and we’re gonna strap explosives on there, and then we’re going to send you on a bus, or we’re going to send you to a shopping center, and we’re gonna tell you when to pull the trigger, and you’re gonna blow up, and you’re gonna blow up everybody around you, and you’re gonna head up to wherever you’re going, 73 virgins are gonna be there. The little 3- or 4-year-old doesn’t have the presence of mind, so what about you? If it’s so great up there, why don’t you go? Why don’t you strap explosives on you — and their parents don’t have the guts to tell the jihad guys, “You do it! Why do you want my kid to go blow himself up?” The jihad guys will just shoot ‘em, ’cause the jihad guys have to maintain control.
The environmentalist wackos are the same way. This guy from The New York Times, if he really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet, humanity is destroying the climate, that human beings in their natural existence are going to cause the extinction of life on Earth — Andrew Revkin. Mr. Revkin, why don’t you just go kill yourself and help the planet by dying?
Yes, one of the few remaining intellectual leaders in the conservative movement — whose views dominate conservative discourse because few if any conservative politicians will publicly disagree with him — has just told the lead climate reporter for the New York Times to commit suicide. Who among the deniers and delayers will have the courage to denounce Limbaugh here?
What incited Limbaugh? Here is Revkin’s NYT blog today (emphasis added by MM):
More children equal more carbon dioxide emissions. And recent research has resulted in renewed coverage of the notion that one of the cheapest ways to curb emissions in coming decades would be to provide access to birth control for tens of millions of women around the world who say they desire it. A study by researchers at the London School of Economics and commissioned by the Optimum Population Trust came to the following conclusion:
U.N. data suggest that meeting unmet need for family planning would reduce unintended births by 72 per cent, reducing projected world population in 2050 by half a billion to 8.64 billion. Between 2010 and 2050 12 billion fewer “people-years” would be lived — 326 billion against 338 billion under current projections. The 34 gigatons of CO2 saved in this way would cost $220 billion – roughly $7 a ton [metric tons]. However, the same CO2 saving would cost over $1 trillion if low-carbon technologies were used. (Here’s a link to a pdf of the report.)
I recently raised the question of whether this means we’ll soon see a market in baby-avoidance carbon credits similar to efforts to sell CO2 credits for avoiding deforestation. This is purely a thought experiment, not a proposal. But the issue is one that is rarely discussed in climate treaty talks or in debates over United States climate legislation. If anything, the population-climate question is more pressing in the United States than in developing countries, given the high per-capita carbon dioxide emissions here and the rate of population growth. If giving women a way to limit family size is such a cheap win for emissions, why isn’t it in the mix?
Let me make three points.
- First, I would not have written the post Revkin did for reasons I have explained before and don’t intend to repeat — see “Consumption dwarfs population as main global warming threat“). For all the reasons discussed in that post, this blog is not going to focus on population. I have more than enough to write about on the policies and strategies that must be enacted if we are to have a chance at preserving a livable climate “” even assuming I knew of and believed in viable, high-impact population-related strategies, which I don’t.
- Second, relatedly, the 34 Gt of CO2 over 40 years Revkin cites sounds like a lot but remember we’re currently at about 30 Gt CO2 per year. The condensed stabilization wedges I analyze (major mitigation efforts spread over 40-years rather than Princeton’s 50 years), save 20 Gt carbon (73 Gt of CO2) through 2050. Nearly half a wedge could be significant, but then again if we do the wedges we must to achieve 450 ppm (let alone 350) then CO2 per capita will drop very, very sharply and the likely CO2 savings from population efforts will also be dramatically reduced — see “How the world can (and will) stabilize at 350 to 450 ppm: The full global warming solution.”
- Third, Limbaugh’s remarks are far beyond the pale even for his brand of extremism. Urging another human being to commit suicide is grotesque.
Comments are welcome as always, but please be more civil than Limbaugh.
Revkin responds here.