Recently, Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute wrote an article for LifeNews.com, rightfully denouncing Ted Turner's call for a global one-child policy. (Turner, he writes, fathered five kids but "has often publicly regretted having so many children." Boy, that must make the younger Turners feel fantastic.) Mosher pointed out that China's approach is not the carrots-only, rights-respecting policy of Turner's imagination: it is a coercive violation of the rights of unborn children and their parents.
He could have left it at that. Instead, he took a detour:
Turner justifies his proposed war on people by claiming that we are in the midst of an environmental crisis of the first order—and that we can stop global warming by reducing the number of people.I soon got an email from a SecularProLife.org supporter, angry that global warming doubt is being associated with the pro-life cause. This, he said, plays into the "unscientific pro-lifer" stereotype propogated by the opposition. Would I please write about it?
He spoke in conjunction with economist Brian O’Neill, who claimed that promoting access to “family planning” could be a major boon to those seeking to reduce greenhouse emissions.
Now, I personally find it hard to get worked up about rising levels of carbon dioxide, since increased amounts of this atmospheric “fertilizer” will lead to increased food production. Ditto for global warming— if indeed it is happening at all. But these are subjects for another day.
As for Turner, long before he or anyone else began hyping “global warming,” he was an outspoken population controller.
When the pro-choice movement frequently makes bogus medical claims like these, it ought to lose all scientific credibility. But that doesn't give us pro-lifers a free pass. We don't get to be the scientific ones just by default. We have a responsibility to do research, cite our sources, and be willing to say "I don't know."
In the case of global warming, I am admittedly not an expert. I defer to the scientific consensus, which is that climate change is taking place and poses a threat. It's possible that rising levels of carbon dioxide could benefit some regions of the earth. But in other regions, we may see changing temperatures and water patterns that disrupt farming.
Climate research is, of course, ongoing. If strong evidence surfaces showing no threat from global warming or greenhouse gases, we should adapt our positions to the new evidence. And we can always say: "I don't know enough about global warming to make a judgment. If it is happening, we should address it by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, breeding or engineering better crops, etc. But environmental concerns can never justify killing people or robbing them of their fertility." That's a position that all pro-lifers can get behind.