Be Green, Use a Condom -- Dobbs Contends 'Hide-Bound Orthodoxies' Prevent Theory from Being Mainstream
This could be dismissed as anti-human - but the theory the environment can be saved by encouraging the use of birth control is one that has been popular with media some environmentalists.
CNN's Lou Dobbs certainly hasn't shied away from the idea. On his Sept. 21 broadcast, Dobbs revisited an early report that the true path to environmental salvation wasn't by curbing greenhouse gas, but instead by subscribing to a Malthusian theory that slowing the growth of human population was the best path.
"We have more tonight on a story that we first brought to you last month, Dobbs said. "There is new evidence of the negative impact of overpopulation on our environment. The biggest threat to the environment isn't, it turns out, gas-guzzling cars or power plants but rather having too many children all around the world."
CNN correspondent Casey Wian explained the theory. He cited studies that resources are best allocated to the means of slowing population growth and not alternative energy when it comes to saving the environment.
"The cheapest way to stop global climate change is not converting to solar power or buying a hybrid car," Wian said. "It's putting on a condom. That's the conclusion of a London school of economics study showing that money spent on contraception is about five times more efficient than money spent on clean energy technologies. It backs up a recent Oregon State University study that concludes overpopulation is the single biggest threat to the environment."
Ben Zuckerman, a professor at UCLA, even put forth the notion that couples should quit after having two "non-adopted children" and contended the media should be out in front of this conveying that message.
"People should be made aware of both by the environmental organizations and by the media that it's good for a couple to stop at two or fewer non-adopted children and then to outline some of the good environmental things that would accrue," Zuckerman said.
However, as Wian pointed out, the controversial theory isn't one that's been embraced by environmental groups or the United Nations, which is attempting to spearhead a global effort to curb global warming.
"Yet, many environmental groups are reluctant to tackling the issue. So is the United Nations, which is overseeing global change negotiations? One barrier - cultural sensitivities," Wian said. "The Washington Post reports it asked a U.N. official about family planning and the environment and the official replied that "to bring the issue up would be an insult to developing countries."
Dobbs chalked this reluctance to go after this topic - that population-control measures could help the environment - to people adhering to perceived norms based on political and ideological beliefs.
"Yeah, I mean what we're really talking about here is, you can almost hear the shudders of politically correct quarters all over the country as you report on that as we bring that knowledge to the American public - because there's such hide-bound orthodoxies in this country - ideological, partisan, politically correct constraints on lines in this country," Dobbs suggested. "That's the real problem here, isn't it?"
Wian agreed with Dobbs and said these issues were the reasons why environmental groups are reserved when it comes to promoting population control as a tactic.
"Absolutely," Wian agreed. "The scholars we talked to say it's been absolutely ignored by the environmental community."