“in case of over-population, spread ebola”

A few weeks ago, Dr. Eric Pianka, in a presentation before the Texas Academy of Science, apparently suggested that, if we want this planet of ours to stay viable, we should find a way to thin the human herd by about 90%. The doctor’s prescription? Ebola.

As you might imagine, some in the doctor’s audience were shocked and horrified. A majority, however, were not. The doctor received a standing ovation after his presentation and was then, a few hours later, named the Distinguished Texas Scientist of 2006… Following are the notes taken by one of the audience members who wasn’t clapping.

…Something curious occurred a minute before Pianka began speaking. An official of the Academy approached a video camera operator at the front of the auditorium and engaged him in animated conversation. The camera operator did not look pleased as he pointed the lens of the big camera to the ceiling and slowly walked away.

This curious incident came to mind a few minutes later when Professor Pianka began his speech by explaining that the general public is not yet ready to hear what he was about to tell us. Because of many years of experience as a writer and editor, Pianka’s strange introduction and the TV camera incident raised a red flag in my mind. Suddenly I forgot that I was a member of the Texas Academy of Science and chairman of its Environmental Science Section. Instead, I grabbed a notepad so I could take on the role of science reporter…

He then showed solutions for reducing the world’s population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved…

AIDS is not an efficient killer, he explained, because it is too slow. His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world’s population is airborne Ebola (Ebola Reston), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs…

He spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy. He said, “Smarter people have fewer kids.” He said those who don’t have a conscience about the Earth will inherit the Earth, “…because those who care make fewer babies and those that didn’t care made more babies.” He said we will evolve as uncaring people, and “I think IQs are falling for the same reason, too”…

Yet five hours later, the distinguished leaders of the Texas Academy of Science presented Pianka with a plaque in recognition of his being named 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist. When the banquet hall filled with more than 400 people responded with enthusiastic applause, I walked out in protest…

Maybe I should be outraged too, as a huge proponent of civil and human rights, but, as much as I’d really hate to have my family wiped out, it sounds to me as though it’s probably a course of action worth considering along with all the other conceivable options. Yeah, it would suck, but, all things considered, maybe it would be better than just slowly starving to death, and killing the planet in the process. (Speaking of other options, I just had an idea. What if we just made a global announcement this afternoon that anyone who kills nine other people gets to live? That would essentially accomplish the same thing, right? We could give each person on the planet a vest with nine clear pockets. Then, every time you killed someone, you’d simply put their scalp (and all of the scalps that he or she had with them at the time of your encounter) into the pockets of your vest. And, once you got to nine, you couldn’t be killed. (It would be cool if you’d get flown to some really great place, like Euro Disney, upon reaching the magic number, but my guess is that you’d just get some kind of special hat that identified you as a winner.) Instead of scalps, we could also use noses.)

My main concern with the Ebola idea isn’t that it would kill most of us, but that when it came time to implement, that it probably wouldn’t be done equitably. The rich, I’m guessing, would be given the opportunity to buy vaccines, or at least be given a head-start so that they could get settled in their remote bunkers. (There was a wealthy family in the town that I grew up in. From what mutual friends told me, they had a pretty elaborate underground bunker system, created for the purposes of surviving a nuclear war. They also, according to reliable sources, were on a list of people to be contacted if/when missiles were headed toward the U.S., giving them ample time to get situated. I’m pretty sure my family wasn’t on any such list.)

I could write about this for hours, but I have sticks to sharpen, pits to dig and combat moves to learn.

[See also the Four Pillars of The Church of Euthanasia: suicide, abortion, cannibalism, and sodomy.]

update: Apparently Pianka did not advocate the killing of people with Ebola. He simply stated that something along those lines might very well happen. See the comments section for details.

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  1. Ted Glass
    Posted April 14, 2006 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    As the U.S. probably has less than 10% of the world’s population, why don’t we just kill everyone else? That seems like a much easier thing to sell politically, at least here.

  2. Jim
    Posted April 14, 2006 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    You may have been punk’d by an ID blog, Mark:

    Pianka speaks for himself here:

  3. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted April 14, 2006 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the link, Jim. I don’t know that it changes much though. It sounds as though the only thing being debated is the role of humans, as he sees it, in unleashing the virus. At least that’s my reading of it.

    It sounds like he’s saying that there’s a good chance that we can expect another pandemic along the lines of what we had during WWI. And that, given our current population glut and the interconnectledness of modern life, we should expect for it to be fairly fast-moving and deadly. It also sounds as though he feels that this would be a good thing for the earth. Perhaps he’s not as gleeful about it as the article originally linked to would make it sound, but I do think that he’d see it as a positive thing.

    So, the debate, as I see it, seems to be over whether he’d recommend that Ebola be dissemenated on purpose in order to accomplish this or not. The results in either case would be the same.

  4. Jim
    Posted April 14, 2006 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your interpretation, Tony, and what I’ve read indicates that Pianka is making a prediction, not a recommendation. As he has stated,

  5. UncleWendy
    Posted April 14, 2006 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    I think that the noses would be better than the scalps, because scalps would have to be concealed in….what? You purse or vest pocket? Noses are usually tiny in comparison and could be worn on necklaces like pendants. This would be a faster way of identifying the 9ers as opposed to frisking victims and checking their briefcases and handbags. Who has time for searches and negociations when we’ll be in a rush to do what needs to be done to stay on this wonderful, uninhabited land relaxing in the 150-degree weather?

    Don’t you ever feel like you’d be much happier if you avoided all news and just stuck to cartoons all day? I do.

  6. mark
    Posted April 14, 2006 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the correction, Jim. I like being reminded every now and then that I’m just as gullible and stupid as the people I make fun of here at MM.com.

    Yeah, I probably should have done some research and checked as to whether or not the guy was really proposing that we kill almost everyone on Earth with Ebola, but it’s just so much easier and faster to take the word of people online who I know absolutely nothing about… In my defense, however, I really do get the impression that this guy would welcome an Ebola outbreak. He may not be suggesting that the government gets it going, but I think he’d welcome it just the same.

    And thank you, Uncle Wendy, for your thoughts. I will certainly consider noses, especially if they can be hammered flat. (My concern is that they could slow people down if left in their natural, thick state.)

    Speaking of cartoons, I have one due on Monday that I need to get started on.

  7. [steph]
    Posted April 15, 2006 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    What about some sort of tax incentive for people who have one child or less? Adopted children of course wouldn’t count. If there was enough of an incentive, families who wanted more than one child could perhaps offer a home to the many children in foster care.

    I personally think anyone who has more than one biological child is being selfish and irresponsible.

  8. chris
    Posted April 15, 2006 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Finally, they are going public with the baby eating.

  9. K. Kritch
    Posted October 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if this is what’s happening.

  10. Posted October 20, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Everyone has a right to live. It is, of course, incredibly hypocritical that wealthy Americans (and in the context of the world, we are all incredibly wealthy), would suggest that there are too many people in the world, while forgetting that the wealthiest parts of the world are essentially population stagnant or declining.

    Population growth is coming from the poorest parts of world and poverty, not population growth is what is fueling the emergence of diseases like your beloved Ebola. If we eliminate poverty, increase access to health care, strengthen health systems the world over and help to insure political and legal rights for the poor many of these threats will subside.

    The greater resource challenges will take the contribution of people all over the world but these are the cards we’ve been dealt, it will take brains, not forced abortions and bioweapons to solve them.

    I wish people wouldn’t so glibly suggest that killing people and inducing human suffering are good ways to solve the challenges of global climate change, resource challenges and food production. I hear it too often from American liberalish folks, as a proponent of public health and as an individual who thinks that all lives are important and worth living, I find it disgusting.

    While he seems conflicted, I sense that Mark holds this view as well or at least did back in 2006. I don’t know that Mark would be so happy if he was told that the deaths of his children were for the good of the world.

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