By Jamie Mobley
Published April 2, 2006
AUSTIN - A University of Texas professor says the Earth would be better off with 90 percent of the human population dead.
90 percent is a bit much. I would go with all the hippies and lefties first and see if that doesn't help. If not, I would continue on into sections of humanity that threaten everyone else. Like muslims.
"Every one of you who gets to survive has to bury nine," Eric Pianka cautioned students and guests at St. Edward's University on Friday. Pianka's words are part of what he calls his "doomsday talk" - a 45-minute presentation outlining humanity's ecological misdeeds and Pianka's predictions about how nature, or perhaps humans themselves, will exterminate all but a fraction of civilization.
Naturally, Pianka intends to be the one burying 9 of his cohorts.
Though his statements are admittedly bold, he's not without abundant advocates. But what may set this revered biologist apart from other doomsday soothsayers is this: Humanity's collapse is a notion he embraces.
Like the followers of a certain pedophile prophet.
Indeed, his words deal, very literally, on a life-and-death scale, yet he smiles and jokes candidly throughout the lecture. Disseminating a message many would call morbid, Pianka's warnings are centered upon awareness rather than fear.
And yet, he advocates the death of 5,856,237,564 people.
"This is really an exciting time," he said Friday amid warnings of apocalypse, destruction and disease. Only minutes earlier he declared, "Death. This is what awaits us all. Death." Reflecting on the so-called Ancient Chinese Curse, "May you live in interesting times," he wore, surprisingly, a smile.
The man has serious mental issues I think.
So what's at the heart of Pianka's claim?
6.5 billion humans is too many.
And how has he decided this? Because he eco-friends tell him so?
In his estimation, "We've grown fat, apathetic and miserable," all the while leaving the planet parched.
A 90 percent reduction.
So.. if I choose to wipe out less than well loved (by me) sections of the world he would have absolutly no problem?
That's 5.8 billion lives - lives he says are turning the planet into "fat, human biomass." He points to an 85 percent swell in the population during the last 25 years and insists civilization is on the brink of its downfall - likely at the hand of widespread disease.
Tell that to the faces of those you would have die. "Yes, sir, you are just fat human biomass of no use to anyone."
"[Disease] will control the scourge of humanity," Pianka said. "We're looking forward to a huge collapse."
May you be the first infected.
But don't tell local "citizen scientist" Forrest Mims to quietly swallow Pianka's call to awareness. Mims says it's an "abhorrent death wish" and contends he has "no choice but to take a stand."
Mims attended the educator's doomsday presentation at the Texas Academy of Science's annual meeting March 2-4. There, the organization honored Pianka as its 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist - another issue Mims vocally opposes.
Let the Texans explain that one.
"This guy is a loose cannon to believe that worldwide genocide is the only answer," said Mims, who filed two formal petitions with the academy following the meeting.
Joining the crusade, James Pitts, who recieved a Ph.D. in physics from UT-Austin, became the second to publicly chastise Pianka when he filed a complaint Saturday with the UT board of regents. He insists a state university is no place to disseminate such views.
"Pianka's message does not fall within the realm of his professional competence as a biologist, because it is a normative claim, not a descriptive one. Pianka is encouraged to use his ecological expertise to predict the likely consequences of certain technological and reproductive strategies, but to evaluate some as good, bad, or worthy of prevention by genocide is the realm of philosophy or political science, not science. His message falls no more within his professional competence than it would for a physicist to teach religion in class or a musician to encourage racism."
Maybe he should start his own death cult?
But Pianka, a 38-year UT educator, maintains he's not campaigning for genocide. He likens mankind's story to an unbridled party on a luxury cruise liner. The fun's going strong on the upper deck, he says. But as crowds blindly absorb the festivities, many fail to notice the ship is sinking.
Where is the proof?
"The biggest enemy we face is anthropocentrism," he said, describing the belief system in which humans are the central element of the universe. "This is that common attitude that everything on this Earth was put here for [human] use."
It was. It's in the Bible. Get used to it.
To Pianka, a human life is no more valuable than any other - a lizard, a bison, a rhino. And as humans reproduce, the demand for resources like food, water and energy becomes more than the Earth can sustain, he says.
If that were true, wouldn't we have died by now? Seems we CAN make the Earth sustain us.
Ken Wilkins, a Baylor University biology professor and associate dean, agrees the inevitability of a crashing point is unarguable.
"The human population is growing," he said. "We will see a point when we reach the carrying capacity - there aren't enough resources."
At that point we get into a gut busting war.
But resources aren't the only threat, Pianka says. It's the Ebola virus he deems most capable of wide scale decimation.
If he starts ranting about spreading it, whoever has the rights to old Bond movies may sue him.
"Humans are so dense (in population) that they constitute a perfect substrate for an epidemic," he says.
He contends Ebola is merely an evolutionary step away from escaping the confines of Africa. And should an outbreak occur, Pianka assuredly says humanity will quickly come to a "grinding halt."
At least the places that the virus can get to. All the more reason to seal off our borders and kill anything that tries to cross.
The professor's not the only one who can articulate this concept. Because Pianka includes his doomsday material in his coursework, Ebola and its potential play a notable role in some students' studies. A syllabus for one course reads:
"Although [Ebola Zaire] Kills 9 out of 10 people, outbreaks have so far been unable to become epidemics because they are currently spread only by direct physical contact with infected blood. However, a closely-related virus that kills monkeys, Ebola Reston, is airborne, and it is only a matter of time until Ebola Zaire evolves the capacity to be airborne."
Why do I get the feeling he would like to develop Ebola Reston into an airborne virus?
It is here that some say Pianka ventures from provocative food for thought to, as Wilkins said, "very extreme material" that violate many people's views - including his own - about the treatment of human life. While many praise Pianka's boldness and scientific know-how, others say he crosses an ethical line in his treatment of Ebola's viability as a killer.
Wait until he begins to develop his almighty "cure" for what ails the world.
In an evaluation of Pianka's course - performed anonymously in keeping with university policy - one student offered:
"Though I agree that conservation biology is of utmost importance to the world, I do not think that preaching that 90 percent of the human population should die of Ebola is the most effective means of encouraging conservation awareness."
Yeah, telling 90 percent of your audience that they have to die, generally wont win you converts.
Mims says he's seen countless doomsday predictions come and go. But Pianka's is different, Mims said. Pianka, he insists, exhibits genuine cause for alarm.
Mims worries fertile young minds with a thirst for knowledge may develop into enthusiastic supporters of a deadly disease, advocating the fall of humanity.
Members of the death cult, now trained at the University of Texas.
"He recommended airborne Ebola as an ideal killing virus," Mims said. "He showed slides of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse and human skulls. He joked about requiring universal sterilization. It reminded me of a futuristic science fiction movie with a crazed scientist planning the death of humanity."
Or a Bond movie.
But as confident as Mims is in his assessment, he faces one unarguable fact: Most of Pianka's former students are bursting with praise. Their in-class evaluations celebrate his ideas with words like "the most incredible class I ever had" and "Pianka is a GOD!"
Indicating to me that they are deluded fools who have no real concept of God.
Mims counters their ovation with the story of a Texas Lutheran University student who attended the Academy of Science lecture. Brenna McConnell, a biology senior, said she and others in the audience "had not thought seriously about overpopulation issues and a feasible solution prior to the meeting." But though McConnell arrived at the event with little to say on the issue, she returned to Seguin with a whole new outlook.
Must.. kill.. humanity.. for.. the.. fluffy.. bunnies...
An entry to her online blog captures her initial response to what's become a new conviction:
"[Pianka is] a radical thinker, that one!" she wrote. "I mean, he's basically advocating for the death for all but 10 percent of the current population. And at the risk of sounding just as radical, I think he's right."
So.. are you volunteering to be offed?
Today, she maintains the Earth is in dire straits. And though she's decided Ebola isn't the answer, she's still considering other deadly viruses that might take its place in the equation.
And what does she inteand to do with her reasearch, I wonder?
"Maybe I just see the virus as inevitable because it's the easiest answer to this problem of overpopulation," she said.
Have you tried War?
Though listeners like McConnell may walk away with a deadly message, Pianka maintains this is inconsistent with his lecture. One UT official said Pianka is likely well within his rights as a tenured educator.
Once again, a tenured nutcase gets away with it.
The 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure - a set of guidelines recognized nationwide - guarantees college professors vast classroom liberties. But Neal Armstrong, vice provost for faculty affairs at UT, said even this freedom is not without limits.
It has no limits if you don't slap people down for doing shit like this. Kind of like the UN telling rouge nations what to do, no effect until you kick them around.
"Faculty members have the right of free speech like anyone else," he said. "In the classroom, they're free to express their views. There is the expectation, though, that in public - especially when speaking on controversial topics - they must make every effort to be clear that they are not speaking on behalf of the university."
If they are on university time, they damn well are speaking for the university.
Students should be able to discern on their own the validity of views like Pianka's, Armstrong said. But if allegations of Pianka actively advocating human death were to be confirmed, he said "there might be some discussion about the appropriateness of that subject."
Maybe you should check it out instead of waiting for the students to start carrying out his plans?
"I would hope that's not what's intended," he said. "I don't think that's appropriate for the classroom, but that's my personal statement."
Get someone in there with a recorder and don't bother to tell Pianka about it.
Robert K. Jansen, chair of the section of integrated biology under which Pianka is classified, said his understanding of the doomsday material left no cause for concern.
Maybe Jansen is also an enviro-loon.
"It's important for students to get all opinions, and they have to do that on a daily basis," he said. To hold a classroom's attention, Jansen says educators must often "speak their mind" in a fashion bold enough to garner a bit of shock.
I think he is going a bit far.
The Texas Academy of Science uses a similar approach in defending its decision to honor Pianka with the Distinguished Scientist award. Though TAS offered no direct comment to the Gazette-Enterprise, an email sent from TAS President David Marsh to Mims in response to Mims first letter of protest reads:
"We select the DTS speaker based on his/her academic credentials and contributions to science. We do not mandate the subject he/she decides to address, nor will we ever. I would suggest that one of the purposes of any such presentation is to stimulate discussion - which indeed it did."
So... if I wanted to start a discussion of how best to carry out the final solution, I can win a DS award?
In his petitions, Mims inquires about the group's stance on Pianka's talk, asking if the recent honor should be interpreted as an endorsement by TAS. Marsh responded firmly, saying the award does not represent any formal backing of Pianka's ideas.
Formal no, but informal? Maybe.
But despite the academy's flat denial of any wrongdoing, Mims maintains his stance. He said thus far, he's seen no response to the second petition.
"I completely agree with one assertion made several times by Dr. Pianka: ‘The public is not ready to hear that he hopes 90 percent of them will be exterminated by disease,'" Mims said.
Because most of them would rather he be extermainated first.
McConnell said the TAS audience, unlike Mims, was in awe of Pianka's words. They offered a standing ovation, and enthusiastically applauded Pianka's position, Mims said.
I am sure that the membership of the National Socialist Party felt the same way, back in the 30's.
"There was a good deal of shock and just plain astonishment at what he had to say," the student said. "Not many folk come out and talk about the end of the human population in as candid of a manner as he did. Dr. Pianka received a standing ovation at the end of his talk, if that says anything. What he had to say was radical, no question about it, but that is not to say that at least some of what he had to say is not true."
Sounds like you are a member of the cult already.
Though Pianka turned down requests for a sit-down interview, he maintains he is not advocating human death.
He's not? Then what is all this 90% of the world dying off mean then?
Does he believe nature will bring about this promised devastation? Or is humanity's own dissemination of a deadly virus the only answer? And more importantly, is this the motive behind his talks?
Responding to these very questions, Pianka said, "Good terrorists would be taking [Ebola Roaston and Ebola Zaire] so that they had microbes they could let loose on the Earth that would kill 90 percent of people."
What would the Evil terrorists be doing then?
As of press time, Pitts - who sent his appeal via email Saturday - had received no response from the university, but he says, "It's too early for any responses to have been made." Meanwhile, Pianka urges humanity to heed his call to be prepared, saying "we're going to be hunters and gatherers again real soon."
Gathering ammo to hunt this assclown down, I hope.
"This is gonna happen in your lifetime," he told his St. Edward's audience. "Do you wanna go there? We've already gone there. We waited too long."
Read more about Pianka by visiting his lab page at: uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/
Read more about Forrest Mims at:
www.forrestmims.org or visit the Citizen Scientist at http://www.sas.org/tcs/index.html