On lifeboat ethics


What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and only one lifeboat, with room for only ten people, has been launched? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides of the boat.

These are the translated words of Pentti Linkola. We can dispute the truth of what he says as much as we want, but at some point, technology will fail to deliver solutions that enable us to continually further expand our population density to levels far above our carrying capacity. This is when we find ourselves forced to make difficult decisions.

Eventually, like every other species, we deplete a resource faster than it can renew itself. Even as the resource is gradually depleted our growth will continue, a phenomenon referred to as overshoot. Gradually, the depletion renders the resource unable to provide all of us with our basic necessities. The population has to contract as a consequence.

However, long before we run out of food and water, our standard of living will decline because of the depletion of other resources. Oil depletion reduces our standard of living drastically, triggering a process that can only be described as the collapse of global industrial civilization. Billions of people will die as a consequence.

Before we arrive at this point however, decline expresses itself in various other forms. People can flee, from places that are further along the path of collapse than other places. Syria would be an example. Millions of people are now fleeing a nation that has been ravaged by a severe drought and a simultaneous decline in oil production. These factors helped tip a naturally fragile nation into a state of chronic civil war.

Most people now know that 2015 was the warmest year in recorded history. It’s expected that 2016 will prove to be even warmer. So far, January of 2016 has been the most abnormally warm month in human history. It’s inevitable that we will witness more droughts similar to the one seen in Syria. Consider the case of Ethiopia, which is expected to witness the worst drought in fifty years a few months from now. It’s thought that ten million people there will need emergency aid.

Above the Mediterranean sea, an enormous lifeboat is struggling to stay afloat. Its passengers debate whether or not they can take in the people clinging onto the side of the boat. What’s taboo to mention however, is that the sinking cruise liner they left is about to capsize, throwing a thousand more people into the sea, all of them desperately trying not to drown.

We can judge our actions based on our intent, or on their outcome. If the passengers in the lifeboat wish to think of themselves as good people, they can peddle back in the direction of the cruise liner and sink their vessel by trying to fill it with all the passengers who will fall off. If they wish to keep their vessel floating on the other hand, it would be prudent for them to leave.

The point to understand here is that what is known in Europe as a “refugee crisis” is not a phenomenon that’s going to come to an end anytime soon. Whether or not all of the migrants are fleeing wars and genocide is a red herring, because for every economic migrant now hoping to strike it big, numerous genuine refugees will soon flee their destroyed nations.

Politicians seem wary of admitting to impotence, but it’s important for us to recognize that not every problem we encounter can be solved. Whether or not these people fleeing to our continent are good people and whether or not they deserve to receive help will be irrelevant, if we will prove incapable of helping them.

We don’t know when this point will arrive. It might happen this summer, if hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians decide to flee in our direction. It might happen ten years from now, when the third world’s population has risen further, along with the mercury in our thermometers.

Anyone who thinks that Europe can cope with the refugee streams that are about to come our way fails to understand the severity of the global climatic upheavals we have brought upon ourselves. A new age of mass migrations is now upon us. Instead of preparing ourselves for the problem, our politicians make decisions in the middle of the crisis, based on emotional rhetoric and feelings of guilt.

It’s sadly too late for solutions, an era of severe suffering is ahead of us. Politicians came together in Paris and declared that the global temperature rise has to be kept below 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial average. As Michael Mann explained however, this is not a goal that can still be achieved. Politicians were forced to choose between addressing ecological overshoot or sedating the public with short-term economic growth and most of them chose the latter.

What can be achieved however, is to ease the pain. It is not too late for palliative care. The refugee camps in Europe and the Middle East are places infested with rape, suicide and child abuse. In many places it’s common for family members to sell daughters as young as twelve to middle-aged Saudi men for use as sex slaves. Not so long ago, asylum seekers in Sweden rioted, because staff were trying to take away a ten year old boy who was repeatedly raped by older men.

In light of the situation we face, the most merciful option is to proceed with mass euthanasia. Merkel’s promise was a cruel joke. There is no chance whatsoever that Europe can deliver lives worth living to the millions of people who seek to migrate to the continent. The suffering of many refugees in Europe and especially in the Middle East is worse than that of many elderly individuals in Europe who are regularly given the means by which to end their lives.

It should be perfectly possible for European nations to send volunteers to refugee camps in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Jordan and other nations. Their task would be to distribute pills by which refugees are given the means to end their lives in a humane and dignified fashion. This would help prevent a lot of pointless suffering. It is the best outcome we can realistically hope for, an expression of genuine empathy, rather than the disingenuous public displays of altruism we see on train stations across Germany. A bottle of water might quench your thirst, but it does not help you to forget.

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14 Responses to “On lifeboat ethics”

  1. Johann Theron says:

    Great argument with good bedside manners. May I suggest that the term “emotional rhetoric” does not correlate with the conservative emotion “empathy”. Current politicians have “feelin” rhetoric hiding their real emotion “fear”. Therefor no empathy is actually possible. Target practise seems to be the only option, but not in the direction one would expect

  2. Tucken2.0 says:

    Im a fan of supplying means for euthanasia to populations. Would be much better and more intelligent than supplying food and blankets.

  3. JPW says:

    This is why Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society must die. Two things would happen if this were accomplished in full. The parasites would leave and the FPA (Future Parasites of Amerika) would stop immigrating. In the State of Maine, they put tight restrictions on welfare eligibility. The rolls dropped way off, so did the applications. The SJWs search in vain for the predicted pile of corpses. The welfare recipients probably all found relatives in states with more lax requirements and started vampiring off of those states instead. It’s almost as if they successfully burned out Salem’s Lot…

  4. Jose Cruz says:

    A few months back I was watching a show on National Geographic Channel on cheetahs. The mother cheetah took off to hunt down a gazelle, a pack of hayenas comes by to steal the prey from the cheetahs, while that was happening another hayena had its eyes on the cheetah cubs left alone while the mother took down the gazelle. The hayena didn’t kill any of the cubs because the mother made it in time, but it mauled the cub’s lower half. The mother came licked the cub a few times, you can see by the way she kept squinting her eyes as she licked the cub that she was hurting on the inside. Then she took off with the other cubs for a few yards then looked back at the cub as it shouted in pain, kept squinting then left for good. This story shows how nature operates when survival is of the utmost importance.

  5. If the invaders were forced to stay in their own countries, euthanasia would not be necessary.

  6. […] is Neoreaction? (Snarl.) The bargain. The way out is forward. Death by Utopianism. Lifeboat ethics (also). Distributed blind conspiracy. Institutional capture. A failed fitness test. Social media as […]

  7. Dan Kurt says:

    re: “Most people now know that 2015 was the warmest year in recorded history. It’s expected that 2016 will prove to be even warmer. So far, January of 2016 has been the most abnormally warm month in human history.”

    It is sad to see that AMERIKA has swallowed the Warmist Propaganda.

    I urge that you read at least articles from http://wattsupwiththat.com and http://realclimatescience.com

    Dan Kurt

    • Our writers have different opinions.

      I stand with Michael Crichton: global warming is nonsense, the real problem is land overuse/over-concreting/over-development.

      You can see the writer name at the lower right of each article.

      • Dan Kurt says:

        re: “Our writers have different opinions.” BS

        I assumed there was an editorial policy directing what is published. My mistake.

        As to the Population Bomb, which is the basis of Land Overuse, etc. arguments, I have my doubts if technology is permitted to continue. But the Malthusians may be correct.

        Do appreciate the site however as generally it is excellent.

        Dan Kurt

        • I assumed there was an editorial policy directing what is published.

          I have clarified this on our policy page — thank you for mentioning it. Short answer is that I started out as a free speech guy and recognize the value in limited disagreement. We probably would not publish Leftist propaganda as it would be nice to have a respite from it, but our writers do vary in opinion and sometimes, this enables useful dialogue.

      • Noah says:

        I’m not saying that those other problems aren’t real, but why the hell do you doubt the validity of global warming? Pretty much all world scientists who are not taking bribes from energy companies agree that the world is getting hotter.
        The fact that you are a strong advocate of green politics except on the huge issue that is associated with the left shows that you care more for identity than objectivity.
        “We should preserve the earth, except when the people I hate want to preserve the earth. In that case the issue is nonsense.”

  8. Noah says:

    And what if the lifeboat does have enough enough room for 100 people, but we just need to manage the space better?
    Or to do away with the analogy, what if the earth does have enough space for 7 billion, we just need to manage resources much better?


    Actually it’s probably some of both. I would be for some mandatory limits on reproduction, but not just killing people. That’s over the line. Of course it’s incredibly hard to make moral arguments to people who just don’t recognize other races as even being fully human, which shows your lack of development, not theirs.
    I will also point out again and again that the refugee crisis was directly caused by the United States invasion of Iraq. None of you will acknowledge that even though it is incredibly obvious. So yes hellscape of the third world has a lot to do with Western imperialism rather than the inherent inferiority of those people. If you don’t want your neighbor coming to your home, don’t bomb it. Science says that the genetic (not cultural) difference between races is negligible.

    While priding yourself on being the “reality centered” sort of people you do everything you can to ignore the fact that the races you trumpet as superior are the ones with a disproportionate rate of consumption by pretty much all standards of measurement.

    It’s tough to make a moral argument about the value of human life to people who say up front “Don’t give a shit, let those darkies die.” But statistics related to the ecological crisis don’t lie. It’s first worlders who consume the most.

    • We can agree to disagree about that.

      Maybe there is a humane solution to the problem that anyone could support, but it can’t work if one side is too diabolical.

      The cuckservative Bush didn’t improve matters, that is true.