Friday, October 23, 2009

The End is Near!

Global warming is only the latest in an endless series of possible calamities that doomsayers have trotted out to scare humanity into adopting one course or another—often filling the doomsayers own pockets—and yet, what has been found to be most true, is that human inventiveness continues to provide progress and prosperity for more and more of the global population; and that is a very good thing.

This article from the Property & Environment Research Center examines the recent history of environmental alarmists.

An excerpt.

“Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, one of the two most influential environmentalist books of the 1960s with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962). Ehrlich's tract is now best remembered for its inflammatory statements that "the battle to feed all of humanity is over" and that "hundreds of millions of people" were about to starve to death in spite of any large-scale attempts to boost agricultural production. To Ehrlich's supporters, he only got his timing wrong. To his critics, he misunderstood the inherent capacity of market economies to tap into creative human brains and to continually deliver innovative solutions to pressing problems.

“What both Ehrlich's supporters and detractors fail to observe is how unoriginal his rhetoric was. Of course, the English clergyman and economist Thomas R. Malthus had articulated similar arguments in his "Essay on the Principle of Population" (1798), but so did many other writers in the interim period.

“By a strange coincidence, The Population Bomb was published the year of the death of William Vogt (1902-1968), the man who had introduced Paul Ehrlich to the Malthusian worldview. While largely forgotten today, Vogt was the author of the Road to Survival (1948), a book that reached between 20 and 30 million individuals and was the biggest environmental best-seller of all time until the publication of Silent Spring.

“Vogt belonged to a large group of individuals, many of whom had previously been active in the eugenics movement, who witnessed with horror the diffusion of new agricultural techniques, medicines, and pesticides to less advanced regions of the world. These apparently beneficial technologies, they argued, would soon result in rapid population growth, resource depletion, environmental destruction, and ultimately social collapse. To spread their message more effectively, some propagandists began to use catchwords such as "population bomb," "P-bomb" and "population explosion." This rhetoric became so widespread that it even graced the cover of Time magazine in 1960.

“The importance of population control activists in paving the way for modern environmentalism is now downplayed in favor of causes such as the search for better environmental amenities (clear rivers, clean air, and more green spaces), pesticide use, nuclear weapons, and the rise of ecological science. And yet, the influence of post-war "Neo-Malthusian ecologists" like Vogt cannot be underestimated.”