"Rather than condemning population reduction, it should be applauded, and governments should institute strict population control measures." - Implicit in this is the idea that governments are benign and objective, which I don't think they are. Over the last couple of years, pretty much all of them have shown a tendency towards authoritarianism. Every corrupt and corruptible system of government would protect itself and its paymasters, and punish those who are troublesome, resulting in the removal of those with undesirable traits and tendencies. Eugenics, in other words. That power, the power to decide who gets to reproduce and who doesn't, should never rest with a government made up of corrupt men and women.
"...we do need institutions to train and elevate honorable and qualified men and women of good character to perform the functions of governing." - This doesn't relate to eugenics, I'm just too cynical to think this would end well. The last thing I want is more experts telling me what I can and can't do.
I've enjoyed all of your essays, and I look forward to new ones coming out, which is why I pay to read - it's worth the money and then some. I also look forward to buying the book when it comes out.
But anything that suggests eugenics makes me uncomfortable; you've alluded to it in your previous pieces but this was quite overt. The Machine is a reification of the people who control it - technocrats, at least some of whom are eugenicists. These people already believe they have the right to decide who lives and dies, who is of value and who isn't, who gets to take their place in the fourth industrial revolution and who doesn't. These people are the true robot men and women - soulless and inhuman. The others we see on the street are sick; sick because society is sick. Free them and the technocrats (The Machine) is gone. And this is what has impressed me in your previous writing - the conviction that people can and will be free from it. Your words have been so hopeful, and I know in the coming weeks they'll be hopeful again, not to mention solutions-focused.
This piece veers close to espousing some outcomes that The Machine itself wants. But, of course, that doesn't mean that I intend to stop reading your work: I can disagree with you on some things and still agree with your overall goal.
Why can't Thomas Malthus stay dead! I'm sick of refuting 250 year old arguments that are as false today as they were then.
I want to post one caveat that I am coming into the middle of this series. That said... where do you even start with an essay this insane?
"technological innovations keep pushing back that time [when] the supply of affordable fossil fuel will be completely consumed"
Coal was a substitute for wood.
Fuel oil was a substitute for whale blubber.
Natural gas is a substitute for oil & coal.
Nuclear fission is a (largely untapped) substitute for natural gas.
Fusion (or something else) will eventually be a substitute for fission.
In short, the history of humanity is one of humans gradually discovering and cultivating new energy sources. Given that this has been happening for hundreds of years...
"We must prohibit or strictly limit the extraction of fossil fuel—over some short-term period of transition to alternatives"
...makes absolutely no sense.
Solar panels cannot be manufactured without fossil fuels. Windmills cannot be manufactured without fossil fuels. To those who would say my "fusion" comment above is too fanciful, I would point out that this "transition to alternatives" pretty fanciful too. Since we don't have any!
I guess we would all be better off if Adam had gone back to his cave and told Eve: "Honey, don't get used to this fire thing. Someday we might run out of trees."
"So there must be, and will be, a dramatic decrease in human population, probably in your lifetime"
Following this strategy will make this a self-fulfilling prophesy. But if you think 90% of us are doomed anyway, you won't care. Of course, if he's right, instead of throwing up our hands and arguing about how best to kill off 90% of the population ethically and painlessly, might we be better off rolling the dice and using the brainpower of that 90% of doomed humanity to maybe find a long term alternative to fossil fuels?
"we do need institutions to train and elevate honorable and qualified men and women of good character to perform the functions of governing"
So we've jumped from Malthus to Plato & Socrates' philosopher kings. Because elite government worked out so well for Socrates.
"Though not all humans have been evil, humanity has been an evil presence on this planet."
What a sad, sick view of the pinnacle of God's creation.