Late last month, the United Nations adopted what it calls its Agenda for 2030, “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” “Sustainable development,” of course, is UN-speak for “limiting population growth,” which the powers that be at the UN think is a wonderful and admirable goal. The Agenda for 2030 is but the latest in a long line of United Nations’ documents proposing to end poverty, improve all people’s lives, and thereby to make the world a better place, not just for man, but for the planet itself. Or, as Agenda 30 puts it:
All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.
This is a sweet sentiment, I suppose, but it is also, to put it mildly, nuts. The United Nations casts itself as the conscience of the world, a collection of noble souls, dedicated to the preservation of the species – man, woman, child and everything in between. The truth of the matter, however, is that nothing could be further from the truth. The United Nations is, and always has been, an aggressively-ideological organization. Indeed, it was specifically designed and created to facilitate the global evangelization of Western, post-Christian, triumphalist liberalism. Its policies, programs and agendas are now, and have long been, disastrous for the nations that adopt them, and this new proclamation on sustainable development/population control will prove no exception.
If nothing else, I’ll give the United Nations this: it has a wonderful sense of comedic timing. To release this document so quickly after the otherwise unflinchingly-obstinate Communist Party of China had admitted the follies of artificial population control requires either a wicked sense of humor or political obliviousness heretofore unknown on earth. Out of kindness, I choose to believe it’s the former that afflicts the UN.
Now, on the off chance you hadn’t heard, two weeks ago, the government of the People’s Republic of China conceded what the rest of the sentient world had known for years, namely the fact that its thirty-five-year-old One Child Policy has been an unmitigated disaster. Like the UN – and like all other Marxists from time immemorial – the Chinese Communists pursued “sustainable development” and “sustainable production and consumption patterns,” which is to say that they decided it would be wise to limit the number of children their citizens could legally have. Predictably, the results were horrific on many levels. And the most obvious level was the cost in human lives and dignity: forced abortions, forced sterilizations, a literal war against women in the form of the “gender-cide” mass slaughter of pre-born baby girls.
The demographer and economist Nicholas Eberstadt has been warning of China’s impending population-control-induced disaster for the better part of two decades. And now, as Eberstadt’s nightmarish forecasts are becoming reality, the future of China itself appears deeply and dangerously troubled. Last month, Eberstadt spoke at the Oracle OpenWorld Conference. Writing in Forbes, Oracle’s Rob Preston summarized Eberstadt’s presentation as follows:
Eberstadt said he sees “tremendous demographic headwinds” in China, the world’s most populous country (1.36 billion people) and second-largest economy (GDP to top $10 trillion in 2015). The data shows that China’s working-age population will contract by about 100 million by 2035, he said. Between the late 1970s, the start of the economic revolution led by Deng Xiaoping, and 2012, China’s working-age population grew about 2% a year. Today, that population is starting to decline, as the long-term effects of China’s one-child policy kick in.
China continues to have a population explosion—of old people. The number of its citizens age 65 or older is growing 4% a year, making China the most rapidly graying population in world history, rivaled today only by Japan, Eberstadt said. But Japan established a sturdy social security system well before it got gray; China is in the opposite position. “And the other way around is so much less fun,” he said.
Meantime, China’s demographics are shifting male, the outcome of sex-selective abortions. At the start of the one-child policy in the late 1970s, Chinese women gave birth to about 103 boys for every 100 girls, Eberstadt said. The ratio is about 120:100 today, creating an enormous sub-culture of “unmarriagable,” socially alienated young men who tend to be poor, poorly educated, and “slightly frustrated”—demographics that correlate to “extreme right wing” behavior, he said.
This past June, in a piece on Pope Francis and his encyclical on global climate change, I argued that the contemporary environmental movement is markedly anti-humanist, which is to say that it denies the unique importance of man on both the physical and metaphysical levels. This anti-humanism – encouraged by the likes of Rachel Carson and Paul Ehrlich – posits that man is the enemy of the natural world, and, therefore, fewer men (and women and children) is precisely what the world needs to survive and thrive. This attitude toward mankind, this belief in man’s ultimate incompatibility with the natural world, dominates not only the environmental movement, but the soft-leftist economics and politics that serve to bolster and abet environmental panic – evidence be damned.
In a recent column for the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens noted that Ehrlich – the author of The Population Bomb, a widely-influential yet wildly-inaccurate environmental screed, and the founder of the NGO “Zero Population Growth” – insists that his outrageously-misleading rhetoric and predictions were, if anything, too tame:
“My language would be even more apocalyptic today,” an unrepentant Mr. Ehrlich told the New York Times earlier this year. “The idea that every woman should have as many babies as she wants is to me exactly the same kind of idea as, everybody ought to be permitted to throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.” Notice what Mr. Ehrlich is comparing to garbage.
The fact of the matter is that radical population control – advocated for half-a-century by Ehrlich, and promoted today by the likes of the United Nations – is both a moral abomination and a recipe for economic catastrophe. The environmental Left refuses to acknowledge this, however, in spite of the all of the evidence. It continues to push this wretched agenda, which is both unsurprising and embarrassingly evocative of the political-philosopher Eric Voegelin’s warning about the contemporary Left’s predisposition toward Gnosticism:
In the Gnostic dream world . . . nonrecognition of reality is the first principle. As a consequence, types of action which in the real world would be considered as morally insane because of the real effects which they have will be considered moral in the dream world because they intended an entirely different effect. The gap between intended and real effect will be imputed not to the Gnostic immorality of ignoring the structure of reality but to the immorality of some other person or society that does not behave as it should behave according to the dream conception of cause and effect. The interpretation of moral insanity as morality, and of the virtues of sophia and prudentia as immorality, is a confusion difficult to unravel.
None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to the history and practices of the United Nations. The UN was, more or less, the key component in Franklin Roosevelt’s dream to end war and international aggression by collaborating with Josef Stalin to spread soft Leftism worldwide. The documents that formed the foundation for the UN Charter were, of course, written primarily by Alger Hiss, the Roosevelt administration official and Soviet spy. The historian Amos Perlmutter described the UN and all of Roosevelt’s post-war plans as “totally at odds with reality” because they “rested on a false premise, buttressed by willful ignorance.”
The Agenda for 2030 confirms that little has changed at the UN is the seven decades since its inception. Pipe dreams and fantasies still dominate its proponents who continue to push policies and programs that, if implemented, will prove morally and economically destructive.