In a recent article George Monbiot lambasted his opponents (and to be fair, they are legion) for claiming that many of his fellow greenies were anti-human and spouted hate-filled rhetoric. “The great majority of greens are powerfully motivated by a concern for social justice, and recognise that if we don’t defend our life-support systems, humanity will suffer grievously” he wrote sententiously.
Really? Let’s examine that claim. In fairness to Monbiot, rather than picking someone from the green movement at random we’ll restrict ourselves to people whom Monbiot himself relies on when writing his articles.
Back in 2002, Monbiot warned us of a meat-apocalypse by as soon as 2012:
Within as little as 10 years, the world will be faced with a choice: arable farming either continues to feed the world’s animals or it continues to feed the world’s people. It cannot do both.
The impending crisis will be accelerated by the depletion of both phosphate fertiliser and the water used to grow crops. Every kilogram of beef we consume, according to research by the agronomists David Pimental and Robert Goodland, requires around 100,000 litres of water. Aquifers are beginning the run dry all over the world, largely because of abstraction by farmers.
Guardian. Why Vegans Were Right All Along.
And it wasn’t just eating meat, that Monbiot was demanding we ditch – “vegetarians who continue to consume milk and eggs scarcely reduce their impact on the ecosystem”. As the title puts it, “Vegans were right all along”. Give up meat, eggs, cheese, butter and milk, or we’ll all be starving within as little as ten years, he warned.
100,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef is a big claim – so who is Monbiot relying on for his argument here? He cites “agronomists Robert Goodland and David Pimental”. And who is David Pimental? He is a professor at Cornell University, an environmentalist and, according to the SPLC and others, an anti-immigrant campaigner.
The anti-racist organisation, the Center for New Community, notes that Pimental was at the centre of attempts to comandeer the respectable conservationist outfit, the Sierra Club to turn it into an anti-immigrant organisation:
By the 2004 Sierra Club elections, SUSPS needed to elect only three additional candidates to the board in order to control the organization and impose its anti-immigration plank. Its three main candidates were Richard D. Lamm, national advisor to Tanton’s Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); Frank Morris, board member of Tanton’s Center for Immigration Studies; and David Pimental, board member of the Carrying Capacity Network whose president, Virginia Abernethy, described herself as a “white separatist.”
Centre for New Community. Apply The Brakes: Anti-Immigrant Co-option of the Environmentalist Movement.
Pimental is an advisor to “Progressives for Immigration Reform” as well as being a board member of the Carrying Capacity Network, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes as a “hate group“. Pimental was listed by the SPLC in its report “Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism, and the Hypocrisy of Hate” as one of the “Key Groups and Individuals” of concern. He is also on the national board of advisors for a group calling itself “Alliance for a Sustainable America” which urges:
Americans who feel sympathy for foreign-born poor should urge U.S. and foreign-born billionaires to work with impoverished nations’ governments, to curb population growth in each country, educate their citizens, and provide job opportunities locally, just like the Chinese government has done.
Alliance for a Sustainable USA. What is the Sensible Way to Help Foreign Poor?
Well, quite. As Pimental wrote in an essay for the Alliance, “The lives and livelihood of future Californians depend on what action present generations are willing to take to reduce population numbers“.
But being a member of hate-groups is only part of the job for Monbiot’s source for the article. He is also on the editorial board of a journal called Population and Environment and his fellow editors have some similar ideas, as the SPLC’s Betsy Hartmann relates:
There is an academic journal called Population and Environment, published by Kluwer, which is edited by Kevin MacDonald, an evolutionary psychologist who writes about a Jewish plot to liberalize immigration policies. In 1999, MacDonald appeared in court in Britain to defend the historian and holocaust denier David Irving. The journal’s advisory editorial board includes famous environmental scientists such as Paul Ehrlich, who wrote The Population Bomb, Pimental again, and Vaclav Smil, a professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada.
Sitting beside them on the board is J. Philippe Rushton, a psychology professor from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, who has a theory about how black people have small brains, low IQ, large sex organs and high aggression. What are environmental scholars doing getting mixed up with these kinds of people?
Climate and Capitalism. Green Fascism and the Greening of Hate.
Pimental gladly works with racists, Malthusians and people who defend Holocaust deniers -is this the sort of person Monbiot really wants to be getting his information from?
No matter, because as 2012 meat-apocalypse day drew near, Monbiot threw his ideology into reverse gear and reversed his edict on veganism. Echoing the contemptuous “Let them eat cake” quip of pre-revolutionary France, Monbiot now decreed “let them eat meat” – and admitted that his 2002 claim on the end of meat-eating was total BS:
Like many greens I have thoughtlessly repeated the claim that it requires 100,000 litres of water to produce every kilogram of beef. Fairlie shows that this figure is wrong by around three orders of magnitude. It arose from the absurd assumption that every drop of water that falls on a pasture disappears into the animals that graze it, never to re-emerge. A ridiculous amount of fossil water is used to feed cattle on irrigated crops in California, but this is a stark exception.
Guardian. I Was Wrong About Veganism. Let Them Eat Meat – But Farm it Properly.
At least Monbiot admitted that in this case he was wrong “by about three orders of magnitude” – hopefully when the global warming theory is finally seen to be bogus he will feel capable of issuing a similar mea culpa.
Monbiot is not a racist. He is not even a neo-Malthusian. But in his eagerness to impose austerity on everyone, he gets taken in by the arguments of those who are. It’s why he earnestly believed the patently ludicrous claim that it took 100,000 litres of water to make 1 kilogram of beef, a risible claim that anyone not ideologically blinded would instantly dismiss as nonsense, as he himself was forced to do as 2012 approached.
It is the anti-immigrant and anti-human agenda of the people who warn of “scarce resources” and “too many people” that is the real danger, not the idle bravado and loose chatter of a bunch of guys on an internet chat-room.
Self-described “ethnic separatist,” Virginia Abernethy, Pimental’s fellow board member on the Carrying Capacity Network, is also a contributor to the journal of the Optimum Population Trust (Patrons: Sir David Attenborough, Jonathon Porritt) with an April 2007 article on “The Extent of the Immigration Problem in the USA“.
The OPT journal also carries articles from Pimental (of course). Plus ca change.