By Stefano Gennarini, J.D. | March 2, 2017
NEW YORK, March 3 (C-Fam) The Pontifical Academy for Science distanced itself from population control theories at the end of a controversial conference about biological extinction featuring renown population control advocates.
“It isn’t population that produces carbon dioxide. It’s human activity which uses up energy and thereby contaminates the environment” said Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, longtime chancellor and spokesperson for the Pontifical Academies for Science and Social Science.
The official summary of the three-day workshop highlights population growth as a challenge to preserve biodiversity. Vatican Radio, however, reported Sanchez Sorondo insisting that what was “crucial” to stop climate change and the consequent loss of biodiversity is a change of consumption patterns and more equitable distribution of wealth, and not population control.
Sanchez Sorondo and the Academies over which he presides came under fire last month for inviting well-known population advocates to speak at the conference, including Paul Ehrlich.
Ehrlich has endorsed coercive population control through abortion and sterilization, as well as selective abortion of girls, throughout a storied career as the public face of the population control movement. He famously and wrongly predicted mass deaths from famines and wars due to resource scarcity and overpopulation in his 199 book The Population Bomb.
Pro-life groups reacted with alarm at the news the Vatican would honor him.
“These are not purely academic questions: the lives and wellbeing of real children are at stake,” Maria Madise of the pro-life group Voice of the Family told LifeSite this week. LifeSite collected more than ten thousand signatures asking the Pontifical Academies to disinvite Ehrlich.
Other observers criticized the Vatican’s bad science. Professor Michael Pakauk of the Catholic University of America described Ehrlich’s and Dasgupta’s latest work as “laughably bad” in a recent article.
What appears to be a draft of Erlich’s conference paper is based on that discredited work and lists “continued population growth” as a “basic driver of extermination.”
Longtime Vatican commentator Robert Royal, wrote that the Academies seem to unrealistically assume something can be done to stop or drastically reduce carbon emissions, but population growth and the need for fossil fuels for basic human existence are unlikely to permit this. Royal is the president of the Faith & Reason Institute and a board member of C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax.
Royal suggested the “best thinkers” these days concentrate on remediation and “they were not present in the PASS conference.”
“What was missing at the conference was a focus on human ingenuity,” Royal told the Friday Fax, referring to Julian Simon, the demographer who bested Ehrlich in a wager 30 years ago that human ingenuity would overcome resource scarcity.
Still other critics see a more sinister agenda at work. Italian journalist Riccardo Cascioli has hinted at an attempt to undermine Church teaching.
Sanchez Sorondo has affirmed in the past that he and the academies he presides standby Church teaching and has recently called any concern about their fidelity to the Church “crazy.” Online news service Zenit reported the cleric saying that the family “in the Christian sense” is important to preserve biodiversity.
Royal cautions against reading more into the conference than can be gleaned on its face. He pointed to “lot’s of talk” at the Vatican about UN funding for such conferences. He also said the academies did not help themselves when they shut the conference to observers after they were advertised publicly.
“Now it looks like they have something to hide,” he said.