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Davos: Such a special group of people

I love these little clips from Davos where our governors gathers to suck each others cocks, metaphorically speaking. Their true beliefs and attitudes are revealed.

 

 

Catastrophism, Malthus, and Optimism

We are incomparably better off than we were in the past, and only concerted human effort can wreck it. We are richer than Rockefeller. Things have improved hugely in our lifetimes, and in the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents. This point of view was well expressed in a recent interview of Warren Buffet, who spoke of the enormous increase of wealth in American society and around the world in the space of three generations. Rockefeller had no flat screen, and had to go to a football stadium to see a game, nor did he have any antibiotics that cured me only weeks ago. Calvin Coolidge’s son died of a staphylococcus infection that would have been cured by a tube of non-prescription ointment.

If you want to see how much better things have got for everyone, see a video by Hans Rosling. Our ideas of human population, health, income and family size in the world are in the main obsolete by about forty years.

And yet….

Beyond the froth of electoral politics, and at deeper levels, a movement has arisen that, since the 1970s, has proclaimed a revolution against this wealth. Its success has been spectacular. It dominates governments. It has the majority of population in its grip. Highly intelligent people believe it to be based in incontrovertible fact. Policies are devised at the most minute levels to adapt to its dictates: plastic spoons are banned, grocery bags are switched from paper to plastic and back again, on lines of reasoning adapted to this theory. More than this, energy production is curtailed, pipelines not built, even when they are proven to be safe and effective, and vast tracts of land are turned over to solar panels and wind turbines which have demonstrably less effectiveness in generating energy than machines that burn fuels.

This doctrine announced itself in the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth” paper in  1972. Earth’s carrying capacity is limited; we are overstepping natural limits; catastrophe lies ahead unless we do something; the population pressures we humans place on the planet need to be reduced – by reducing the number of people. You don’t have to dig to deep to find a deep pessimism in this doctrine.

The blurb for the Club of Rome’s book starts like this:

“Published 1972 – The message of this book still holds today: The earth’s interlocking resources – the global system of nature in which we all live – probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth much beyond the year 2100, if that long, even with advanced technology.”

 

The ideology is a combination of warmed-over Thomas Malthus (overpopulation) with a belief in central planning of the world’s economy that would cheer the heart of Karl Marx. It dominates political assumptions. It is the principal form that leftism took when the Communist system collapsed in the Soviet Union.

We have never been so wealthy, and we have never been so pessimistic about our collective futures.

This is the central contradiction of our times. Most western governments are busy harming the economies of our countries with a view to preventing climate change.  Pessimism may wreck the rising tide of wealth creation, which has been fueled by technology, energy production, and civic culture.

More than anything else, I remain a believer that things will get even better, if we only give progress a chance. The pessimists – in the form of Malthusians, limits to growthists – are now in charge. It is their day. We have federal ministers in this country who are seriously bent on wrecking the economy of the one province in Canada that pays the pensions of the rapidly aging populations of Ontario and Quebec.

For a more eloquent exposition of the optimistic view, I again recommend the recent interview with Warren Buffet by Charlie Rose. Buffett expresses the hopeful view, which I think is well justified. I don’t buy into the dark views of ecological doomists.

 

 

 

 

Club of Rome at 50 years old

I used to believe the following tenets of the Club of Rome. I did so for about four years (from the age of 22 to 26) until I woke up from ecodoomism. It is apparent that millions have been sucked into this cult and have never found a way out. Yet. Indeed, ecodoomism is the world’s leading cause of depression, suicide, sexual ambiguity,  non-replacement and cultural anomie. It is immediately the cause of policies designed to immiserate the population (viz. Dutch government putting farms out of business to control world atmospheric nitrogen levels).

Here are the doctrines of the Club of Rome, circa 1972. Look familiar?

 

• “The Limits to Growth” contains six main messages:
ƒ Firstly, that the environmental impact of human society
had become heavier between 1900 and 1972 due to
both an increase in the number of humans and the
amount of resources consumed and pollution generated
per person per year.
ƒ That our planet is physically limited, and that humanity
cannot continue to use more physical resources and
generate more emissions than nature is capable of
supplying in a sustainable manner. In addition, it will
not be possible to rely on technology alone to solve the
problem as this would only delay reaching the carrying
capacity of the planet by a few years.
ƒ Third, the authors cautioned that it is possible, and even
likely, that the human ecological footprint will overshoot
the carrying capacity of the planet, further explaining that
this would likely occur due to significant delays in global
decision making while growth continued, bringing the
human footprint into unsustainable territory.

ƒ Once humanity has entered this unsustainable territory,
we will have to move back into sustainable territory,
either through “managed decline” of activity, or we will
be forced to move back through “collapse” caused by the
brutal inherent processes of nature or the market.
ƒ The fifth message is one of hope. The authors state
that: “The challenge of overshoot from decision delay
is real, but easily solvable if human society decided to
act”, meaning that forward looking policy could prevent
humanity from overshooting the aforementioned
planetary limits.
ƒ Lastly, the authors advocated for an early start – in 1972
that was 1975 – to achieve a smooth transition to a
sustainable world without needing to pass through the
overshoot and contraction phases.

 

The World Economic Forum and Klaus Schwab have followed as night follows day. They key assumptions are that the current population/ resource consumption mix is unsustainable, and the second is that a process of managed decline can smooth the transition to sustainability. I am about to say something at once paradoxical and true. Humans have more to fear from the managers of population reduction than we do of civilizational collapse. Because the population reduction is being planned by people who think they are doing good  and the old adage of C. S. Lewis applies: that the robber barons might have their greed satiated, and stop, but the person who tortures for you own good does so with a clean conscience and will not stop. Hence Stalin. Hence Klaus Schwab, and his minions and acolytes.

Collapses are random and bring their own correctives. They are chaotic. If the Roman Empire has to fall, it is better that it occur without central planning, administered by mad tyrants. I realize this is offensive to those who believe that civilizational change can be planned, but it cannot.

The  assumption that needs to be challenged the most is that collapse is somehow inevitable because we have gone beyond limits set by Gaia, that this unsustainability is somehow new, and that we can plan our way out of it.

We went beyond the limits set by Gaia since we domesticated animals, invented agriculture and mined metals. I would not wish to say there are no limits, but I would say that the collective intelligence of mankind has continually found solutions to the problems we have ourselves created. We went into the realm of the “unsustainable” tens of thousands of years ago. We are still in “unsustainablity”. There is no stable state. The Club of Rome published its manifesto in 1972. It had a tremendous negative effect over time. It resuscitated the idea of a centrally planned economy when the central conceit of Marxism had collapsed: that a planned economy could prevail over the chaotic forces of the market, or of nature.

The close relationship between the idea of sustainability and the tyranny of all-wise central planners needs to be made clear.

________________________-

Regarding solutions that appear without planning, population growth is collapsing through the very process of unsustainable wealth generation that has come from burning fossil fuels. Women reach a level of prosperity where their kids will survive until adulthood, and – bingo! – they produce at most two children. It is enough to make the most hardened ecodoomist pause and reconsider.

See

Or more brutal yet, try David Goldman (known as Spengler)

 

 

A (relatively honest) global warming debate, until the end

Veritassium host Derek Muller  interviews himself on the subject of global warming, and for a few minutes there is a relatively honest discussion of the issues. Until,  that is, until minute 5:50. when the host, in his guise as good guy, speculates that it would probably be cheaper for us and better for the planet if we abated out emissions of CO2 now rather than later. To which his bad side, replies “no thanks”.

Here is the rub. The advocates of doing something to abate CO2 production engage in many suppositions

  • that abatement of CO2 production can be achieved on a global scale
  • that measures taken will in fact achieve the results set out for them
  • that it will be more affordable than adapting to the projected,  increased consequences of global warming that would otherwise occur
  • and, perhaps most importantly, that humans can be transitioned from their dependence of fossil fuels in a democratic way.

Just as the debate really could have engaged, good guy Veritassium asked the bad guy alter ego why he was wearing sunglasses. And so the principal non-scientific questions were conveniently ducked. Happens all the time.

This is not to disparage Veritassium, which is a solid science show. But it is a critique of the global warmists for consistently assuming away the practical problems.

 

I much prefer the approach adopted by Bjorn Lomborg which is that, if humans had a hundred problems to solve, global warming through CO2 increases would be the hundredth priority, behind the other 99.

Scott Adams’ Deep Dive

I have been listening to Scott Adams, Dilbert’s creator, for some time now. His style is cool and rational. I recommend him. On the downside, he can ramble, and the level of preparation for the show is wanting. Putting it another way, a little editing would improve the show.

For the past few weeks he has been conducting a “deep dive” into anthropogenic global warming. He professes skepticism towards all claims for and against man-caused global warming. He keeps asking the right questions, namely, what fact or facts, if shown, would be decisive to a rational mind that man-caused global warming was both happening and serious.

On the downside – and I confess to having listened to him too much – he needs to do something about his nose. As in blowing it to clear the nasal passages. If that is insufficient, would he please take some claritin or anti-histamine? Thank you, Scott.

His contribution to rational discourse is hugely important.