This TV ad takes the cake. Have you seen it? It is paid for by an organization that calls itself “Alliance for Life” (Ontario). It is a “provincial coordinating organization” of some 44 affiliates which, surprise surprise, includes seven Christian denominations, of which, another shocker, five are Catholic. Most interesting is an organization calling itself the “Population Research Institute”, founded of course by a priest, Father Paul Marx. Its mission? “...to expose the myth of overpopulation, to expose human rights abuses committed in population control programs.”
The Alliance, meanwhile, claims to present “a united voice for the dignity and worth of all human beings from conception/fertilization to natural death.” I can personally attest to the kind of dignity in death to which they are referring. My brother writhed in agony for months from terminal cancer, and repeatedly indicated that he wanted to die. But his Christian fundamentalist doctor was too concerned with his dignity to assist him in executing his wishes, and so my brother was forced to suffer without the ability to swallow or control his bowels. This conduct is sanctioned by the Alliance for “Life” as “morally and ethically acceptable”.
And of course, the Criminal Code, built on this kind of “morality”, stands behind them. This is the cultural “heritage” which some Canadian anti-immigrationists are intent upon saving. They are the people who grasp at environmental reasons for limiting immigration, but then turn around and advocate more birth incentives for native-born Canadians, most of whom are self-described Christians. Their objective is an ancient one. “Grow the tribe and screw carrying capacity.” So how does the Alliance for Life present its case on television?
The ad features children playing, when in a stroke, one in four of them vanish from the screen. This is to simulate the number of “children” or “babies” destroyed since the abortion law was struck down in 1988. That’s right. After 20 years the Christian right still doesn’t get it. They don’t understand the difference between a baby and a foetus. Between a life and a potential life. I once bought a lottery ticket, and I discovered that there was a substantial difference between a ticket that had the potential of winning the jackpot and one that actually did. It only took one purchase for me to figure that out. But then my learning curve is rather shorter and higher than a Bible-thumper’s I think.
But the Alliance for “Life” , or more aptly, the Alliance for the Increased Quantity of Life (rather than Quality of Life) is animated by different logic. They claim that since one-quarter of all pregnancies were terminated in Canada since the abortion law was passed, young Canadians are “missing” 3 million of their friends. Think of what a difference they would have made, they ask. Over to you Julian Simon. Another Sydney Crosby, or 100 cancer researchers, or 10,000 teachers perhaps. Forget the extra criminals, dead beats and real estate speculators. The more “life” we have the better. After all, “people” are our greatest resource.
Yeah sure. But each Canadian member of that “resource” emits, on average, 23 metric tonnes of green house gas (GHG), consumes 3 million tons of metals, minerals and fuel per year, and produces more than 150 pounds of waste annually as well. So what would those 3 million “missing” friends bring us? For starters, about 65% more GHG emissions than the tar sands produce, and about half the farmland that has been developed to accommodate the New Canadians that have arrived since the abortion law was enacted. And let us not forget the number of non-human species that would have been obliterated by the bulldozer to clear the way. Do you still miss those 3 million potential consumers now?
Each extra Canadian, whether he or she enters the country through the hospital or through the airport, diminishes the per capita share of non-renewable resources that existing Canadians enjoy. Even if the extra 3 million would have spurred more economic growth---a proposition refuted by two or three studies so far---that growth is still contingent on the supply of cheap fossil fuel and rapidly scarce minerals and metals upon which an industrial economy depends. More people does not mean a higher per capita GDP, and even if it did, the economic foundation upon which our inflated population rests is built on quicksand. The bigger we are, the harder we’ll fall. Triple digit oil will kill our transportation system and our ability to grow, harvest, transport and refrigerate our food. If we continue to grow our economy and grow our population, many more of us will starve, freeze and die, along with the flora and fauna we take down with us.
What is really required is an advertisement showing the number of various species on a screen, and those that disappear with each increment of the human population. Christians are fond of justifying the Biblical mandate for humans to exercise dominion over all God’s creatures by stressing our obligation to be wise stewards. That is a difficult task when the human population, to Catholic and evangelical cheerleading, has nearly tripled its size in my lifetime and is shrinking wildlife habitat relentlessly and mercilessly. Whether a primate’s life begins at conception or not, there are now fewer primates in existence than there are human beings born in any given day. If each one of God’s 214,000 miracles born each day is precious, what of the tens or hundreds of thousands of non human life forms that are murdered that day by our expansion? Yes, 100 species are lost each day. But many more life forms are killed than that each day. How many? Who knows? Each and every day we are breeding our life support system into the ground.
It is in this sense, then, that the Alliance for Life is the Alliance for Death.
PS Happy New Year to Canada’s greatest and most effective environmentalist, Dr. Henry Morgenthaler.