Hug the Earth, kill the humans (National Post April 8, 2008)

Barbara Kay, National Post

Published: Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Institute Of Cetacean Research, Reuters

Yesterday, Post readers were moved by the image of our Prime Minister, in Poland on April 5, kneeling at the Death Wall of Auschwitz, the worst of the Holocaust extermination camps. In the museum guest book he wrote, "Lord, bless the souls of those who suffered and perished here, and deliver us from evil."

Stephen Harper's prayerful posture and traditional words of commemoration for the lost souls of a barbaric era reveal a sensibility noticeably out of sync with the religion of environmentalism that presently dominates our culture.

The contrast was illuminated in the coincidence of Mr. Harper's expression of reverence for human life with the contempt for human life displayed by Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society chief. In reaction to the March 29 maritime deaths of four seal hunters, Watson declared the deaths of seals a "greater tragedy."

Publicly discomfited, Green party leader Elizabeth May resigned from the advisory board of Sea Shepherd, but tellingly (rather like Obama with his racist pastor, Jeremiah White) wouldn't distance herself personally from Paul Watson. As a faithful adherent to their mutual church -- Our Gaia of all that is Non-Human -- to which she remains fully committed, May elected to stand by Watson for the sake of his "good work."

But what "good work" can compensate for Watson's advocacy of a population-decimating cap of one billion people, or calling human beings "the AIDS of the Earth?"

Watson should be a social pariah. Instead he's been touted by Time, that iconic pulse-taker of our culture, as an "Environmental Hero of the Twentieth Century," which speaks volumes about the inability of our society's wildly vacillating moral compass to locate true north.

Watson is the symbol of a movement that originated in a desire to improve the planet's physical condition, but transmogrified into the zero-sum dogma of eco-spirituality, in which the object of worship is the environment, and the messianic goal its return to a pre-civilization Edenic state. In this scenario, Earth is perennial victim, mankind eternal villain, the consumption of natural resources original sin. No emotionally manipulative appeal is beyond the pale for this pagan religion's demagogues, even the

shameful appropriation of racist tropes. Alpha eco-spiritualist novelist Alice Walker claims, "the Earth is the nigger of the world."

The case of Englishwoman Toni Vernelli illustrates the disturbingly irrational nature of this death-friendly replacement of Christianity. In 2000, at age 27, Vernelli had herself sterilized so as to "reduce her carbon footprint" and "protect the planet." "Every person who is born," Vernelli lamented, "uses more food, more water, more land?and produces more rubbish, more pollution."

The West's plunging demographics suggest that, however extremist their views, Watson and Vernelli do represent an influential cultural shift. Canada's fertility rate is presently 1.54%, lower than China's one-baby 1.7%. Italy, whose fertility rate is a shocking 1.23%, "has lost a little of its will for the future," understates Rome's Mayor, Walter Veltroni.

The anti-natalist movement's guru is a philosophy professor from Cape Town University, David Benatar. In 2006 Benatar published Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence, which unabashedly advocates the extinction of humanity. It is always wrong to have children, Benatar claims, urging a "pro-death" view of abortion.

Is anti-natalism an historical first, a natural consequence of easy birth control? No. Cultural defeatism isn't technology dependent. In about 150 BCE, an ancient called Polybius wrote, "The whole of Greece has been subject to a low birthrate and a general decrease of the population." His explanation: "For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear children born to them, or at most as a rule one or two of them ? the evil rapidly and insensibly grew."

Anti-natalists are gentler exterminators than Nazis. No gassings, no ovens, just ideology induced suicide. The perfect world of the Nazis was judenrein -- free of Jews. The ideal world of antinatalists like Watson is menschenrein --people-free.

Wringing our hands and letting the Pope and other theological polemicists do the heavy intellectual lifting on this issue won't do. A return to the Judeo-Christian values that produced Western civilization is our best offence against the hollow purposelessness of militant secularism, the abhorent vacuum that loves the moral cretinism of anti-natalism.

We can love the Earth without hating its inhabitants. Demonstrating reverence for the dead is not enough. Mr. Harper must institute policies that show reverence for the lives to come.