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Bill Maher: You Really Can't be an Environmentalist if...

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It’s a great pleasure today to honor comedian Bill Maher on the Wall of Fame at Growth Bias Busted. Maher suffers no fools, and he comments with brutal honesty about how absolutely nuts some human beings can be, something I made the subject of an entire film, GrowthBusters. Maher’s featured guest on Friday night’s HBO show, Real Time With Bill Maher, was Alan Weisman, author of Countdown. Weisman is a respected journalist, and Countdown is a well-researched book about world population, or more accurately, overpopulation. Weisman deserves a spot on our Wall of Fame, as well, but today I'll applaud Bill Maher.

It’s very clear that Maher has an above-average (sorry, Bill, I know that's not saying much) understanding of the subject of population growth. But he earns this Wall of Fame spot and my appreciation with one simple statement:

“You really can’t be an environmentalist…if you’re not someone who is extremely concerned about overpopulation.”

Alan Weisman sums up why that’s such an important statement:

“This is a topic that most environmental groups won’t touch.”

Being a comedian Bill Maher brings some humor to the topic (another thing I like to do). You’ll also find Maher’s conversation with Weisman quite informative. View the entire episode on HBO Go here (there's a bonus in the full episode, a highly entertaining and  excellent conversation about materialism and this sick Cadillac commercial). Or view the Weisman/Maher conversation here.

If you just can’t sit still for 8 minutes of intelligent discussion, here’s the most surprising part of the conversation.

Thank you, Bill Maher, and HBO, for giving airtime to the critical subject of overpopulation.

Please vote to reflect your level of applause for this honoree. Comment below. And support this non-profit project here. Thank you.

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How much fame or shame?:


  • Grant
    Grant Wednesday, 19 March 2014

    This is fantastic, thanks.

    I'll only add that there are other reputable predictions for future population, like this one: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eURuaSf55ezI8k52agHSr-85x83uvXWEWXzcb3TmJy8/edit

    This is in contrast to 4:35, where Weisman says "the whole idea is...to gradually, over the next few generations, bring ourselves down."

    Still a great vid.

  • Dave Gardner
    Dave Gardner Wednesday, 19 March 2014

    Thanks, Grant. But surely you wouldn't advocate just sitting back and waiting for nature to do the dirty work? Every child NOT conceived today is one less source of a lifetime of CO2 emissions.

    Reply Cancel
  • Grant
    Grant Thursday, 20 March 2014

    No doubt. My point was just that we should prepare for the likely possibility that population reduction won't be gradual, but will be more like a spike followed by a crash, as Anderson predicts. Of course, Weisman presented the gradual scenario as a goal, not a prediction, and it's a good goal, but a high one to reach. Regardless, present reductions in conception reduce the severity of any future crash by reducing not only future GHG emissions, but future competitors for inadequate resources (who, as always, will contest them militarily and attempt to extract them by increasingly destructive means including fracking, shale extraction, coal gasification, et. al.).

    Reply Cancel
  • Dave Gardner
    Dave Gardner Thursday, 20 March 2014

    Absolutely on the money, Grant!

  • Guest
    Brian Sanderson Wednesday, 19 March 2014

    Bill is absolutely correct, again!

    I'd add, if you care at all about human well-being then you have to be very worried by overpopulation.

    Reply Cancel
  • Dave Gardner
    Dave Gardner Thursday, 20 March 2014

    Thanks to Grist magazine for also sharing news of this Maher episode with the world - http://grist.org/list/bill-maher-says-you-arent-an-environmentalist-unless-you-care-about-overpopulation/

  • James
    James Tuesday, 25 March 2014

    It's encouraging to see this being discussed on popular TV. I'm glad that the guest was able to cut through Maher's usual nonsense though. As such a know it all blowhard he exhibits some of the worst stereotypes about progressives (snobbery, etc). I agree the family with 19 kids are irresponsible, but do you have to shame the mother specifically? That's exactly counter to the pro-women messages of the interviewee. Seeing as the man is more likely to have the social power in any given relationship, how about a good old dick joke rather than an edgier one where you get to say vagina?

  • Dave Gardner
    Dave Gardner Tuesday, 25 March 2014

    Maher's humor is not for everyone. But I think these messages need different messengers to reach different crowds, so I'm not going to judge him too harshly. It is pretty hard to have something good to see about people like the Duggars, but you're right - Maher won't get an A for sensitivity, but that's not what got him a weekly hour on HBO!

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