Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Modest Proposal for 2007

Originally written on October 14, 2007:

Earth Day was earlier this week. I just wanted to post this previously written, tongue-in-cheek tract to remind us all not to take it too seriously - Publius, April 26, 2008.

In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote his modest proposal for dealing with the pressing crisis of poverty in Ireland. Bold and decisive action was needed to address so pressing and vexing a problem.

Today, we have another looming threat that requires the same type of bold action. Former Vice President Al Gore was recently awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for highlighting this important issue: the impending crisis of global warming and climate change. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Gore informed us that we are facing, “planetary emergency.” If we do not act, our entire planet is in peril.

Our action, of course, requires understanding the cause of global warming. Scientists tell us that global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide trap in heat. This allows for temperatures that support life, but the production of too much carbon dioxide is causing are planet to become dangerously warm, will lead to dangerously unstable climate changes, and threatens the existence of polar bears.

Human beings are the cause of this overproduction of carbon dioxide. It is a by-product of industry; produced by the burning of oil and coal for energy and electricity, produced by the burning of gasoline when we drive or fly, and in fact even produced by the lungs of every man, woman, and child when we exhale. Human beings are the proximate cause of global warming and the solution to the problem is therefore, obvious. Human populations must be reduced if the planet is to survive.

Europe has already, voluntarily, addressed the problem with a declining birth rate. Responsibly, the Chinese have limited their population growth by law to address this issue. But these measures are not enough. The human beings that exist today are producing ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide. Limiting the growth of human populations will not be enough to turn the tide. Current human populations must be reduced if we are to preserve our planet.

Fortunately, the United States has led on this issue. The state of Oregon has passed an assisted suicide law. This allows for the more prompt disposition of the terminally ill, not only removing the carbon dioxide generated by their assisted ventilation, but also decreasing the power requirements necessary to power mechanical ventilators. Other states will need to adopt similar measures. More commendable is the leadership shown by Virginia and Texas. These states have the highest per capita execution rates in the country. Again, not only removing people who individually produce carbon dioxide as well as reducing our expenditure of electrical power to house these convicts. Other states will need to follow the lead of Virginia and Texas if we are going to adequately address global warming. States that do not have capital punishment will need to institute it and all states will need to maximize their execution rates. In addition, expanding the number of capital crimes, perhaps to include all crimes, will be required. Of course the use of electrocution must be abandoned in favour of lethal injection as the former method increases our carbon footprint. Europe has, sadly, lagged on this issue.

Although these measures are important, they alone will not be enough to reduce our greenhouse emissions adequately to combat catastrophic climate change. More humans will be need to be eliminated to limit our carbon production. I would first advocate elimination of the homeless. Although this category of people does not use as much power as the terminally ill or the convicted, they do produce carbon dioxide in their lungs and their elimination will have the added benefit of making our cities cleaner and more livable. Secondly, we can use this as an opportunity to address as second problem by targeting for elimination those without health insurance. Not only will this reduce our carbon emissions dramatically, but it will also end the health care crisis in this country.

Lastly a national lottery will be required to select people for elimination. Each citizen will have a number of entries in the lottery proportional to the size of their personal carbon footprint, encouraging all of us to seek ways to reduce our carbon dioxide production. The number of people selected each year will depend on our per capita carbon footprint and the amount of carbon reduction that our climate models predict will be necessary to stop climate change.

We cannot afford to wait. We must act. If we do not act soon, our window of opportunity to stop climate change will be gone. We will have to sacrifice for the greater good. Human beings must be eliminated in significant numbers to save our planet. The survival of the polar bears depends on it.

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