Eric Pianka is a well known ecologist, biologist and professor at the University of Texas.
Forest Mims is a well known author of electronics books. I've bought several of his circuit recipe books at Radio Shack over the years.
Now there's apparently a bit of a controversy. Mims objects to an apparently very well received address Pianka delivered on Friday, which was essentially that mankind has outgrown its nest and is on the verge of dieoff. A top candidate is an Ebola pandemic, where Ebola Zaire acquires Ebola Reston's capacity for airborne contagion, or Ebola Reston acquires Ebola Zaire's lethality. Something like that. Pianka says human population density has increased to the point where we form a perfect substrate for an epidemic that could wipe out 90 percent of us.
The Sequin Gazette-Enterprise has an account of Pianka's address to the Texas Academy of Science, which honored Pianka as their 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist. The Gazette-Enterprise's headline is "DOOMSDAY: UT professor says death is imminent. (The article is hard to read due to some character encoding issues, so I'll post it to the comments section below after cleaning it up a bit.)
Mims says Pianka is advocating genocide; Pianka says no, that such interpretation is inconsistent with his message.
Naturally enough, the conservative WorldNetDaily doesn't like what Mims claims Pianka's message is. WorldNetDaily's headline is Scientists cheer
holocaust wish - Texas academy honors professor who wants 90% of human race exterminated by ebola.
Tom Clancy, in his Rainbow Six (very highly recommended, by the way), has the bad guys conspiring to loose a modified Ebola on the world and, of course, damn near doing it. Clancy did such a good job of portraying the bad guys' point of view that at times I thought it was also Clancy's.
Has humanity broken the ecosystem's back? Is the only remedy a human dieoff? If so, should it be induced to prevent absolute calamity? Is dieoff going to occur anyway as a function of the human population having reached the required density for such a ferocious pandemic?
I don't know, but it seems to me that Pianka's credentials to speak on such matters outweigh Mims' credentials to object.
What I am fairly certain of is that present trends cannot continue.
Here's Brenna's blog post, mentioned in the Gazette-Enterprise piece. The young lady caught a lot of flack, naturally enough, but some support, too. Most of her detractors seem to have bought in completely to Mims' interpretation that Pianka is advocating genocide, contrary to what Pianka said. One commenter, William, suggested Brenna read Schopenhauer's "The Three Stages of Truth" (ridicule, violent oppositon, acceptance), and continued, "It is probably the greatest understanding to come out of the 19th century. And take heart in realizing you are on level so far beyond the abilities of 99% of present populaton, that they cannot control their mindless reactions to your observations."
I bet none of Brenna's hostile commenters would think much of Bartlett's talk on steady growth. They wouldn't recognize themselves in Catton's denial paper, either. That's OK, most of them seemed to have God on their side.