Somebody Think of the Children!

Apparently, one third of American kids think the environmental apocalypse will destroy Earth by the time they grow up, and more than half think our evil, consumerist ways will make the planet a rather unpleasant place to live. I normally think of environmentalism as a feel-good pastime, occasionally resulting in bad policies that make us poorer and less free. This survey should remind us that environmental hysteria is also a severe mindfuck for younglings. While environmental externalities do cause some problems, quality of life (including environmental quality) is on a long upward trend and fears of environmental catastrophe are largely nonsense.

Quote of the Day: Greatest Person in History Edition

If people want to believe that the organic food has better nutritive value, it’s up to them to make that foolish decision. But there’s absolutely no research that shows that organic foods provide better nutrition. As far as plants are concerned, they can’t tell whether that nitrate ion comes from artificial chemicals or from decomposed organic matter. If some consumers believe that it’s better from the point of view of their health to have organic food, God bless them. Let them buy it. Let them pay a bit more. It’s a free society. But don’t tell the world that we can feed the present population without chemical fertilizer. That’s when this misinformation becomes destructive…

Norman Borlaug, who turned 95 yesterday, in an interview with Ronald Bailey at Reason. 

Here’s a Penn and Teller: Bullshit segment featuring Borlaug:

Quote of the Day: Climate Alarmism Edition

From Will Wilkinson:

Cheap energy is a main source of prosperity. The effort to make the cheapest sources of energy more expensive is, in effect, an effort to ensure that more people are made to suffer longer in poverty. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu’s openness to using tarrifs against countries like China as a “weapon” in the effort to achieve global climate policy coordination illustrates the clear and present danger climate alarmism poses to the welfare of the world’s poor. I’m simply unwilling to trade certain immediate harm to vulnerable people in exchange for extremely uncertain future benefits.

Indeed. I think it’s pretty incontrovertible that global warming is happening and is caused, at least in part, by humans. That’s what the climate scientists say, and they know what they’re talking about. When they talk about the human cost of climate change and the appropriate policy responses, however, they do not have any especial expertise. The cost of climate change will be a function of how wealthy people are. If people have the resources to move away from strongly affected areas and otherwise alter their behaviour to a changing environment, they will be fine. A sucessful attempt to lessen climate change (though I’m not convinced any is likely to be particularly effective) which slows the development of the poorest could very well increase the overall harm of global warming. Environmentalists often worry about the very fact of temperatures rising X degrees, when they should be worried about how this affects people.


Lileks responds to an Obamacultist hippy’s anticonsumerist manifesto:

At this point I almost stopped reading, because anyone who can pack that much boilerplate claptrap into one sentence is destined to end up explaining why things have to be taken away from people. Basic needs: the words of someone who knows how big your house should be. Creature comforts: he knows how many pairs of pants you should own. “Defining the purpose of life as making more dough to purchase more consumer goods” – the earnest snit of a petty puritan who believes you put in long hours so you can afford a Cuisinart kiwi-peeler.

There’s much more good stuff: read the whole thing.

I’m fine with people who don’t value ‘material goods’, by the way, but wonder why they feel the need to prevent everyone else from enjoying them. As it happens, I’ve met many more people who claim to be indifferent to material goods than people who actually reveal such indifference through their actions.  Some seem to be capable of convincing themselves that a Propagandhi album, guitar, or Che Guevara t-shirt isn’t really a material good. Good for them, I suppose. 

Hat tip: Transterrestrial Musings

Hyperbole with which I Broadly Agree

From Save the Humans

Environmentalists hate children and want them restricted to two per family, or less. Children are the symbol of the future pillaging of the planet by humans, and the fewer of them exist the better. So much of the economy revolves around children (schools, entertainment, transport, activities, food). Reducing the number of children is the key to reducing the world population.

Another gem:

Well when environmentalists are upset, we humans should be pleased. Happy environmentalists generally means sad humans and vice versa.

I’m proud to live in the same city as this guy/gal, who sounds like the vile offspring of Julian Simon and Gordon Tullock.