Michael Moore Embraces the Overpopulation Fallacy

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Robert Zubrin
·4 min read
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NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE M ichael Moore and Jeff Gibbs have released a new movie. Entitled “Planet of the Humans,” the film examines the question of whether “green energy” can “save the planet” from global warming. Their answer is an unequivocal “no.” Instead, a more effective final solution is needed for the human problem.

Planet of the Humans has been received warmly by many on the right, and coldly by much of the left, because it forcefully attacks wind, solar, and especially biomass as false solutions to the energy needs of industrial civilization. The film is replete with images of giant solar energy projects built a few years ago with much hullabaloo at taxpayer expense now lying around as fields of junk, rusting broken wind turbines, and devastated forests. It does not hesitate to show how pitiful the energy yields and CO2 emission reductions from such projects have been. It is merciless in portraying Al Gore, Bill McKibben, the Sierra Club, and other noteworthy green energy promoters as profiteers, scamming the public while destroying the environment for personal greed. As a cinematic hit job on the green-energy movement, it is without peer.

That said, Planet of the Humans stands among the most perverse movies ever made, one that should not be touched by conservatives with a ten-foot pole. Green energy cannot sustain industrial civilization, Moore says. Therefore, he says, industrial civilization should not be sustained.

Moore and Gibbs affect concern for the forests that are being incinerated to produce electricity. Yet they express no interest whatsoever in well-proven technologies that make such destruction unnecessary. For example, a single 1000 MWe nuclear power plant produces about 100,000 terajoules (TJ) per year of thermal energy, saving about a million tons of dry wood from combustion. In 2019, the U.S. had the electricity-generation equivalent of 93 such nuclear plants, 182 natural gas-fired plants, 111 coal-fired plants, 22 oil-fired plants, and 32 hydroelectric stations. Collectively, this amounts to a savings of 440 million tons of wood per year, or about 90 times as much wood as actually is being burned.

Five more nuclear power plants, or a 3 percent increase in natural-gas production, could replace all the power currently being generated in the U.S. through forest destruction.

Moore and Gibbs are not interested, however. They have a different idea: Why not just depopulate the planet? Two centuries ago, they say, human population was one-tenth the present size, and per capita production was 10 percent of today’s level as well. Combined, these two factors meant our impact on the environment then was only 1 percent of what it is today. That was sustainable. This is not. We need to go back to how things were. If the planet is to survive, we need to get rid of most of its people, and drastically reduce the living standards of the rest. But two things are getting in the way.

Since this is a Michael Moore movie after all, it shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to reveal the primary culprit: capitalism. Capitalism is to blame for the industrial revolution that caused the problem in the first place, and it also the main obstacle to the necessary goal of shutting down global civilization today. So long as people are free to invent and produce what others need, this problem can never be solved. Therefore, for the sake of survival of the planet, the capitalist system must be terminated.

But there is a deeper issue. Even under socialism, there might be those who prioritize human welfare. Such sentiments are understandable, but not sustainable. Reality requires us to harden our hearts. Only thus can we be “saved.”

According to the Founders, the Creator endowed us with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. According to the gospels, He wished us to love each other. According to Moore and Gibbs, He was wrong on all those counts. The threat is too grave for any of that.

There is a threat, but it is not ongoing environmental harms, which could easily be remedied if Moore, Gibbs, and the other green scammers they attack for insufficient ruthlessness would just get out of the way. The threat comes from the central idea they collectively represent — to wit, that there isn’t enough for all of us. But the world population is the highest it has ever been. And because of that and the market, division of labor, and the rate of innovation it supports, people are living far better than they ever have before. So we are not in danger from there being too many people. But we are very much in danger from people who think there are too many people.

Ideas have consequences. If the idea is accepted that the world faces a fundamental crisis of overpopulation, there will be men of action prepared to do something about it. Compared with the havoc they inflict, green-energy swindles will be the least of our problems.

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