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TyL's picture

 I read the essay "Population Reduction: An Ecosophical View" and found it deeply disturbing to say the least, borderline fascist to say the worst. Seriously: it reminded me of some of the Nazi stuff I've read for history classes. The basic idea is that we should reduce our population so as to be more "sustainable" and "ecologically responsible" and all the usual environmental claptrap. That's all well and good, but how are we supposed to decide whose babies don't get born? Naess doesn't really give us an answer. He babbles some pseudo-economical stuff about how much it will or won't cost us, but he doesn't say WHO has to stop having children. I'll tell you who it'll be: you and me. We don't have enough money to influence the vote; we don't have large "green" corporations backing us. It's our babies who won't see the light of day. This is just like the carbon credits: if your company has enough money to pay for its pollution, it can go on polluting, but the rest of us have to shoulder the burden or get out of the race. Those rich enough to pay for the cost of having babies in Naess' world will get to, and the rest of us will have to die childless. 

What strikes me about the book's tone in general is its entire unconcern for human beings. Yes, he makes the usual nods: people should be respected. But in the end, he's all about the animals, all about the environment. That's all well and good, but try telling the people in a third world country that they can't mine here or log there because they might disturb some rare species. They're just trying to live, like all the other animals in the ecosystem. But somehow humans don't get the same consideration that animals do. Or the vast majority of humanity doesn't get it--Naess' economically conscious souls do, but the rest of us are just nasty polluters. 


rachelr's picture

Energy: heat or food?

 I agree that often his concern for being efficient and "green" sometimes goes above what makes sense- for instance when at the beginning of the book on page 55 when he is talking about doing vigorous exercise for 5 minutes instead of heating up the rooms in his cottage, and that "a person occupies less than 1 percent of the volume of a room. Why heat more than 99 percent just to heat that little volume?" (56). Yes, perhaps we are smaller than the size of the room, but by jumping around every time he gets cold in his 11 degree C cottage he is using up energy to keep himself and his internal organs warm and functioning. But he is expending energy, so he will have to eat more to maintain that level of energy and fat for warmth storage. And he goes on at length about his appetite and how he needs to watch what foods he has there and must be efficient with what he eats and how much, so he can make it all last. I feel like his logic in the heat reduction plan is counterproductive. 

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