Magazine article Reason

Wild Idea

Magazine article Reason

Wild Idea

Article excerpt

In a 1989 Los Angeles Times book review, National Park Service ecologist David M. Graber forcefully articulated the anti-humanism that informs much of the environmentalist movement. "Human happiness and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet," wrote Graber. "We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth....Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along."

Last fall, the United Nations released a report on world population growth that suggests Graber's dream virus may have come along in the form of AIDS. (See "Population Bomb," page 17.) Washington Editor Michael W. Lynch talked with Graber in December via telephone to find out what he thought about the U.N. data.

Q: Is AIDS the "right virus" for you?

A: I have no idea where AIDS is going to take us. The point I was making [in the review] was that, from the standpoint of just about every other living thing on the planet, human beings are a plague. That's still an accurate and safe assumption. Anything that reduces human populations or reduces their growth is a benefit to just about everything else on the planet. Whether that's desirable for human beings is a completely different issue.

Q: So from the point of view of the planet, AIDS is good?

A: It's a very complex issue because [AIDS] also fouls up the economies of countries. …

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