The Greening of Hate

Betsy Hartmann has been fighting against population control
programs for 20 years from a feminist, pro-choice perspective, and
hard-line conservatives disguised as environmentalist do-gooders
have proven to be some of her most formidable enemies. ?I find that
even well-educated and well-meaning acquaintances have alarming
responses on population issues,? Hartmann, a feminist scholar,
tells New Scientist magazine. ?They believe the poor
create their own problems by breeding, and it absolves the rest of
us from responsibility.? It?s no wonder that even self-described
humanitarians have been duped into this line of thinking when you
consider the sources of misinformation. Even the Sierra Club hosted
a group that was trying to redirect the organization?s agenda
toward immigration restriction and population reduction.

This brand of right-wing environmentalism is used to explain the
relationship between population and resources both at home and
abroad. Some leading environmentalists blamed the ?94 genocide in
Rwanda on population density, land shortages, and poverty. ?The
massacres started where population pressure was least. It was about
state-instigated racism, not environmental degradation,? says
Hartmann. ?It?s not that population is always irrelevant, it just
gets overemphasized.? While some environmentalists like Virginia
Abernethy of the Carrying Capacity Network have been lauded by many
for their assertion that immigrants are to blame for overpopulating
our country and destroying the environment, Hartmann derides their
arguments as racist. The poor are not so much to blame as the
government policies that rule their lives. Hartmann is especially
worried about foundations that fund studies that try to link
population and environmental issues to national security. ?This
seemed like a dangerous mix,? says Hartmann, ?especially when it
got tied up with the growing anti-immigrant movement in the U.S.,
and maybe now in Europe, too.?
?Nick Garafola

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The Greening of Hate

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