Is infinite economic growth a fantasy? Or is the fantasy the idea that we are quickly using up the Earth?

In his recent book, “ Stubborn Attachments ,” economist Tyler Cowen offers a brief thought experiment meant to illustrate how seemingly tiny differences in GDP growth rates generate massive wealth differences over time. What if, Cowen asks, the US economy grew at one percentage point less annually from 1870 through 1990?

Source: Is infinite economic growth a fantasy? Or is the fantasy the idea that we are quickly using up the Earth?

Resources and Earth Day

Resourceful Earth Day also signals a hope more appropriate to spring, marking a return to a positive view of man’s role on this planet. Indeed the old Marxists, convinced that they would dominate the future, optimistically favored economic and technological change. The forces of change, they believed, would move man toward heaven here on Earth.

That optimistic element has disappeared. The environmental establishment has grown increasingly gloomy, convinced that the Earth is suffering from the “Terrible Toos” — too many people, too much consumption, too great a reliance on technology which is understood too little. Earth Day has become a day of atonement for man’s criminal assault on our planet. That pessimism reflects, in part, their realization that history is no longer on their side; thus, change is no longer in their interest. Stasis must be the order of the day.

With attacks on things like biotechnology, automobiles, suburban opportunity and trade, they now seek only, as Aaron Wildavsky noted, “an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.”

Master Resource

The problems of famine, overpopulation, poverty and disease are resolvable. In fact, they have been resolved in the United States and other places where human ingenuity is free to solve them. The calamity criers of the green movement predicted great disasters afflicting the planet by the year 2000. The Carter administration’s Global 2000 Report forecast global calamity, and Paul Ehrlich claimed on the “Johnny Carson Show,” “If I were a gambler, I would bet even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Unfortunately for the eco-catastrophists, as we approach their due date for disaster, the planet is in increasingly good shape. This point was recently conceded by America’s arch-druid. “Not only do we have the healthiest economy in a generation,” said Vice President Al Gore, “we also have the cleanest environment.”

On this Resourceful Earth Day, we may hope that Gore and his fellow foot soldiers in the environmental brigades will ponder these points and rethink the wisdom of the current policy of placing all one’s faith in federal political solutions. The greens’ constant calls for massive government controls, forced population limits, harsh curbs on economic activity, and a curtailing of technology threaten to produce exactly the results that such actions seek to avoid —a world of ecological and economic disaster. On this April 22, let us commit to both a freer and a cleaner world; they go together after all.

ibid

And there’s also this piece by Julian Simon:

During the first great Earth Week in 1970 there was panic. The public’s outlook for the planet was unrelievedly gloomy. The doomsaying environmentalists–of whom the dominant figure was Paul Ehrlich–raised the alarm: The oceans and the Great Lakes were dying; impending great famines would be seen on television starting in 1975; the death rate would quickly increase due to pollution; and rising prices of increasingly-scarce raw materials would lead to a reversal in the past centuries’ progress in the standard of living.

The media trumpeted the bad news in headlines and front-page stories. Professor Ehrlich was on the Johnny Carson show for an unprecedented full hour—twice. Classes were given by television to tens of thousands of university students.

It is hard for those who did not experience it to imagine the national excitement then. Even those who never read a newspaper joined in efforts to clean up streams, and the most unrepentant slobs refrained from littering for a few weeks. Population growth was the great bugaboo.

Every ill was the result of too many people in the U. S. and abroad. The remedy doomsayers urged was government-coerced birth control, abroad and even at home.

On the evening before Earth Day I spoke on a panel at the jam-packed auditorium at the University of Illinois. The organizers had invited me for “balance,” to show that all points of view would be heard. I spoke then exactly the same ideas that I write today; some of the very words are the same.

Of the 2,000 persons in attendance, probably fewer than a dozen concluded that anything I said made sense. A panelist denounced me as a religious nut, attributing to me weird beliefs such as that murder was the equivalent of celibacy. My ten-minute talk so enraged people that it led to a physical brawl with another professor.

Every statement I made in 1970 about the trends in resource scarcity and environmental cleanliness turned out to be correct. Every prediction has been validated by events. Yet the environmental organizations and the Clinton administration–especially Vice President Al Gore, the State Department, and the CIA –still take as doctrine exactly the same ideas expressed by the doomsayers in 1970, despite their being discredited by recent history. And the press overwhelmingly endorses that viewpoint.

Here are the facts: On average, people throughout the world have been living longer and eating better than ever before. Fewer people die of famine nowadays than in earlier centuries. The real prices of food and of every other raw material are lower now than in earlier decades and centuries, indicating a trend of increased natural-resource availability rather than increased scarcity. The major air and water pollutions in the advanced countries have been lessening rather than worsening.

In short, every single measure of material and environmental welfare in the United States has improved rather than deteriorated. This is also true of the world taken as a whole. All the long-run trends point in exactly the opposite direction from the projections of the doomsayers. There have been, and always will be, temporary and local exceptions to these broad trends. But astonishing as it may seem, there are no data showing that conditions are deteriorating.

….

Julian Simon’s 25th anniversary essay

Michael Moore Heresy Watch (2)

(Steven Hayward) There’s not much new to report on the fuss on the left over the Michael Moore anti-renewable energy film “Planet of the Humans,” but as a public service I just have to share the agony of The Nation magazine, which today published this delicious headline and primal scream: Meet the New Flack for Oil and Gas: Michael Moore Like many of Moore’s fans, I thought, “Cool, how timely!” Trump is in the White House ripping every environmental law to shreds, rolling back dozens of environmental rules, trashing the Paris Agreement, denying climate change, and opening up millions of acres for fracking.

Source: Michael Moore Heresy Watch (2)

Heartland Launches 22 Climate Science “Gatebreakers”

Of course, since it’s from the Heartland Institute, many will consider it tainted.

“Gatebreaker” is a word I use to describe a special kind of document that until recently has been few and far between. It is a one or two page nontechnical refutation of a specific alarmist argument. It is something a student or citizen can use to confront an alarmist gatekeeper, hence the name gatebreaker.

Source: Heartland Launches 22 Climate Science “Gatebreakers”

Waste problems from wind and solar

In short, disposing of wind turbines is a significant problem, with negative impacts on communities and the environment.

It is reminiscent of the negative community and environmental impacts of solar panel disposal. Carolina Journal has reported for years about chemical waste components from used solar panels, including such things as gallium arsenide, tellurium, silver, crystalline silicon, lead, and also GenX and related compounds in solar panel components.

John Locke Foundation

The Recycling Scam

To an extent almost unimaginable, the developed world “recycled” literally billions of tons of waste over decades—metals, plastics, paper, wood—by shipping it to the People’s Republic of China on Chinese ships returning from delivering Chinese goods for sale in developed countries. China accepted it all, paid for it, and used its huge and eager workforce—paid often less than one-tenth of comparable U.S. labor—to transform whatever was in truth recyclable into materials for its industrial-manufacturing-construction powerhouse.

In fact, though, as we now know, somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of what was promiscuously shipped out of the developed economies to be “recycled” was actually dumped by China, as unusable, into landfills and the oceans of Southeast Asia, where it has become a major cause and poster-child of environmentalists as an “island” (sometimes) or a “sea” (sometimes) of floating plastic waste.

Today, we know this in far more detail and know that the developed world never really faced the “economics” of recycling—impossible without the market pricing system. We know it now because, on the first day of 2018, China announced to the world its “National Sword Policy.”

No longer would China accept and pay for the hundreds of millions of tons of often unrecyclable trash from the developed world, trash arriving in China so hopelessly mixed, dirty, and loaded with impurities that China was polluting its own country and also its coastal waters. China was finished with this arrangement. Henceforth, “recyclables” shipped to China must be 99.5 percent pure or, to put it another way, limited to one-half of one percent impurities. Plastic imports to China have plummeted 99 percent.

FEE.org

And similarly, when the LADWP decommissioned the plastic shade balls on one of its reservoirs, I got a call from a farmer in Northern California. He wanted to know if he could be given those plastic balls to cover his holding ponds. I called around and learned, among other things, the LADWP was unable to recycle those balls. Over years floating in the reservoir, they pick up enough grit that they ruin the machines designed to shred recyclable plastic. So the only alternative left was to send them to a landfill. Or to find someone willing to take them off our hands.

After a couple of days of inquiry, we made arrangements to ship them to this farmer, and everyone was happy.

Because the farmer wanted the balls to float on top of his holding pond, I did emphasize that the balls were to be shipped intact, and not crushed or shredded. This was because over the years, I’ve learned the obvious is far from obvious to everyone.

Climate Change: How Lucky Do You Feel?

Ronald Bailey is becoming less skeptical about climate change as he accumulates more data.

“The age of climate panic is here,” declared David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (Tim Duggan Books), in a February 2019 New York Times op-ed. He’s certainly right about the panic. University of Cumbria Professor of Sustainability Leadership Jem Bendell predicts that man-made climate change will result in a “collapse in society” in about 10 years.

Source: Climate Change: How Lucky Do You Feel?

What Climate Science Tells Us About Temperature Trends

This article expands on claims about global temperature trends made in Ronald Bailey’s article in the January 2020 issue of Reason , ” Climate Change: How Lucky Do You Feel? ” for readers who are keen to dive deeper into the topic. (The print article is currently only available to subscribers.) I began my time on the climate change beat as a skeptic.

Source: What Climate Science Tells Us About Temperature Trends