Maybe It Should be Renamed the Darwin Peace Prize

Each year, the Darwin awards are bestowed—generally posthumously—upon those who “improve” the gene pool by removing themselves from it through acts of incredible stupidity.

Recent Nobel Peace Prize awards increasingly appear to share the criteria that its recipients contribute to “improving” the gene pool by removing large numbers of people from it. Unfortunately, in these cases, it is not the honorees themselves who have been “removed,” but the victims of their hare-brained schemes.

As a case in point, the IPCC’s continuing admissions about the dubious “science” behind its 2007 Nobel Peace Prize-winning climate change work, coupled with the previous Climategate disclosures, reveal scandalously poor bases for proposals for “reversing” global warming that would have disastrous implications for billions of people.

The most recent admissions of mistakes in the 2007 IPCC climate report include:
• The scientist quoted in the IPCC report as saying Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 now says there is no scientific basis for the claim.
• A claim that agricultural yields in some African countries could halve by 2020 is based on a report by a Canadian environmental think tank, not peer-reviewed science.
• A claim in the 2007 report that climate change could endanger up to 40% of the Amazonian rain forest, is based on a World Wildlife Fund report on logging.
• Claims linking rising temperatures to increases in natural catastrophes contradict the underlying data: as increasing numbers of people build increasingly valuable properties in hurricane zones, lower numbers of hurricanes result in greater economic loss.

Sharing the 2007 Nobel, of course, was Al Gore, whose film, “An Inconvenient Truth” relied heavily on the now-discredited Michael Mann “hockey stick.”

The IPCC and Mr. Gore prescribe immediate, drastic, and global reductions in carbon emissions as the cure for the ills they cite. Yet, as environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg points out:

The fact is that whatever prosperity we currently have or are likely to achieve in the near future depends heavily on our ability to acquire and burn carbon-emitting fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

... Compared to other forms of energy, fossil fuels are abundant, efficient and cheap. In order to make drastic cuts in their carbon emissions, developing countries would have to pull the plug on domestic economic growth—thus consigning hundreds of millions of their citizens to continued poverty.

Poverty which translates to reduced lifespans, high infant mortality, and a degraded quality of life.

The more recent 2009 Peace Prize for President Obama similarly qualifies well under the terms of the Darwin awards as recognition for the doubling of deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan under his administration, and the continued high death toll in Iraq.

While these recent selections have perhaps lessened the irony of the prize being established by the inventor of dynamite, a case can still be made for aligning it instead with the Darwin awards. The renaming of the prize would be especially fitting in celebrating acceptance of “the ends justify the means”: Peace through war. Eden through depopulation. Survival of the fittest through eugenics.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute.
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