Population and AIDS Miss Ann Thropy - Earth First! (1987)

Dec. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF
f radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human population back to ecological sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS. So as hysteria sweeps over the governments of the world, let me offer an ecological perspective on the disease (with the understanding that the association between AIDS and homosexuality is purely accidental and irrelevant - in Africa it is a heterosexual disease, and is destined to be everywhere).

I take it as axiomatic that the only real hope for the continuation of diverse ecosystems on this planet is an enormous decline in human population. Conservation, social justice, appropriate technology, etc., are great to discuss and even laudable, but they simply don't address the problem. Furthermore, the whole economy of industrial affluence (and poverty) must give way to a hunter-gatherer way of life, which is the only economy compatible with a healthy land.

Of course, such a decline is inevitable. Through nuclear war or mass starvation due to desertification or some other environmental cataclysm, human overpopulation will succumb to ecological limits. But in such cases, we would inherit a barren, ravaged world, devoid of otters and redwoods, Blue Whales and butterflies, tigers and orchids.

Barring a cure, the possible benefits of this (AIDS) to the environment are staggering. If, like the Black Death in Europe, AIDS affected one-third of the world's population, it would cause an immediate respite for endangered wildlife on every continent. More significantly, just as the Plague contributed to the demise of feudalism, AIDS has the potential to end industrialism, which is the main force behind the environmental crisis.

None of this is intended to disregard or discount the suffering of AIDS victims. But one way or another there will be victims of overpopulation - through war, famine, humiliating poverty. As radical environmentalists, we can see AIDS not as a problem, but a necessary solution (one you probably don't want to try for yourself). To paraphrase Voltaire: if the AIDS epidemic didn't exist, radical environmentalists would have to invent one.

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