DEPOPULATION War and famine would not do Instead disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved AIDS is not an efficient killer because it is too slow My favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world's population is airborne Ebola Ebola Reston because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days instead of years We've got airborne diseases with 90 % mortality in humans Killing humans Think about that You know the bird flu's good too For everyone who survives he will have to bury nine- Dr Eric Pianka University of Texas Speech to an audlence on population control He received a standing ovation Because of many years of experience as a writer and editor Pianka’s strange introduction and the TV camera incident raised a red flag in my mind Suddenly I forgot that I was a member of the Texas Academy of Science and chairman of its Environmental Science Section Instead I grabbed a notepad so I could take on the role of science reporter One of Pianka’s earliest points was a condemnation of anthropocentrism or the idea that humankind occupies a privileged position in the Universe He told a story about how a neighbor asked him what good the lizards are that he studies He answered “What good are you?” Pianka hammered his point home by exclaiming “We’re no better than bacteria!” Pianka then began laying out his concerns about how human overpopulation is ruining the Earth He presented a doomsday scenario in which he claimed that the sharp increase in human population since the beginning of the industrial age is devastating the planet He warned that quick steps must be taken to restore the planet before it’s too late Saving the Earth with Ebola Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures Then and without presenting any data to justify this number he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number He then showed solutions for reducing the world’s population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse War and famine would not do he explained Instead disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved Pianka then displayed a slide showing rows of human skulls one of which had red lights flashing from its eye sockets AIDS is not an efficient killer he explained because it is too slow His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world’s population is airborne Ebola Ebola Reston because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days instead of years However Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs After praising the Ebola virus for its efficiency at killing Pianka paused leaned over the lectern looked at us and carefully said “We’ve got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans Killing humans Think about that” With his slide of human skulls towering on the screen behind him Professor Pianka was deadly serious The audience that had been applauding some of his statements now sat silent After a dramatic pause Pianka returned to politics and environmentalism But he revisited his call for mass death when he reflected on the oil situation “And the fossil fuels are running out” he said “so I think we may have to cut back to two billion which would be about one-third as many people” So the oil crisis alone may require eliminating two-third’s of the world’s population How soon must the mass dying begin if Earth is to be saved? Apparently fairly soon for Pianka suggested he might be around when the killer disease goes to work He was born in 1939 and his lengthy obituary appears on his web site When Pianka finished his remarks the audience applauded It wasn’t merely a smattering of polite clapping that audiences diplomatically reserve for poor or boring speakers It was a loud vigorous and enthusiastic applause Questions for Dr Doom Then came the question and answer session in which Professor Pianka stated that other diseases are also efficient killers The audience laughed when he said “You know the bird flu’s good too” They laughed again when he proposed with a discernable note of glee in his voice that “We need to sterilize everybody on the Earth” After noting that the audience did not represent the general population a questioner asked “What kind of reception have you received as you have presented these ideas to other audiences that are not representative of us?” Pianka replied “I speak to the converted!” Pianka responded to more questions by condemning politicians in general and Al Gore by name because they do not address the population problem and “…because they deceive the public in every way they can to stay in power” He spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy He said “Smarter people have fewer kids” … With this the questioning was over Immediately almost every scientist professor and college student present stood to their feet and vigorously applauded the man who had enthusiastically endorsed the elimination of 90 percent of the human population Some even cheered Dozens then mobbed the professor at the lectern to extend greetings and ask questions It was necessary to wait a while before I could get close enough to take some photographs Fig 1 I was assigned to judge a paper in a grad student competition after the speech On the way three professors dismissed Pianka as a crank While waiting to enter the competition room a group of a dozen Lamar University students expressed outrage over the Pianka speech Yet five hours later the distinguished leaders of the Texas Academy of Science presented Pianka with a plaque in recognition of his being named 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist When the banquet hall filled with more than 400 people responded with enthusiastic applause I walked out in protest Meme

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