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Conservatives and the Environment

The major issue blocking the return of the federal Conservative party to power is climate, according to Brian Mulroney. Canadians want to pass on a pristine environment to their descendants, and the job of the Prime Minister and the leader of the country is to do this.

He goes further, of course, because our former Prime Minister has bought into the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) scam in its entirety. By which I mean he assumes that human energy production is warming the climate, that this warming is potentially catastrophic, unless we do something, and that something can be done at an acceptable political price. I deny two of the three premises of the argument, if you ask me about the politics of it. Though, as regards the first premise, I would hold it quite possible that human energy production of late has had a minor warming effect, and that this is good for the planet.

I observe the the depression in Alberta and the hardships in Saskatchewan are caused in great part by federal energy policy, and that federal policy has been to tax the industry more heavily, to block its exports by obstructing pipelines, and to tax consumers on their projected CO2 emissions.

We are already experiencing the drop in economic activity that green energy policy would have us endure. It is always easy to contemplate the economic woes of the Canadian West from the comfortable perch of Laurentian Canada, and even easier when you are a federal Liberal. You can combine the derision of the enlightened with the assurance of the woke, and say “they deserve it because they are pulling those nasty hydrocarbons from the ground”.

Let me propose an alternative and less popular view. The green energy delusion – for it is a delusion – is the equivalent of Mulroney’s effort to “bring Quebec into the constitution”. Instead of splitting us along linguistic lines, as the Meech Lake Accord did, this one will split us according to whether we produce more energy than we consume, or something like from the east of the Selkirks in BC to the Manitoba border. I think significant parts of British Columbia and Manitoba will side with Alberta and Saskatchewan. I say it will split us because it is already doing so. Look at the results of the last election. The West has given the Liberals not a seat west of Manitoba.

Mulroney proposes that the Conservatives will not attain power unless they cave in on green energy scams and the AGW panic. I shall boldly predict the contrary. Their path to power lies in assembling a coalition that, while concerned with the environment, is skeptical of the pain of higher energy prices and bad technologies, such as wind and solar, and is ready to say so.

While it is necessary and proper to show concern with the environment, the Conservatives will not get back into power until they start shedding some of their forced reverence for the “science” of global warming. In a choice between those who really believe the bullshit of AGW, and those who only half believe, or pretend to believe, the electorate will choose the true believers, until such time as the full implications of the doctrine are borne by the public generally. Then the turn around will begin.

When I have discussed politics with some Conservatives (of the partisan kind) I have been struck by the gap between how they talk among themselves (realistically) with how the media force them to talk , which is out of both sides of their mouths. The average Conservative is not a green, though he or she is concerned with the environment. The leader of the Conservatives in Canada must be able to endure the howls of outrage from the green mobs, the CBC – the voice of the establishment – the Liberals, the NDP and the latest instantiation of the Quebec nationalists, and say, right out loud, the climate scam is a scam. The emperor has no clothes.

Of course, Brian Mulroney won two majority elections, but he also drove the party into near oblivion with his signature policy of appeasing Quebec.

I also want to draw attention to something that Matthew Goodwin said in a recent interview on Triggernometry. After dissecting the recent loss by the Labour Party, which was roughly speaking the dissociation of the concerns of the well educated intelligentsia from the concerns of working class Eng;and, he was asked at the end of the interview “What is the one thing we are not talking about that we ought to be talking about”, at 1:03:45. Hear him: “The politics of climate change is going to be the next huge big disruptive moment in our political world”.

I agree that thinking about environmentalism in a reasonable way is the most sensible thing you can do as a conservative. I do not believe that acting on global warming, to the extent it is occurring, by central planning, predicated on bad science, is the way to go about it.

Matt Goodwin’s book is called National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy. I think that Goodwin has his finger on the pulse of political change, and Mulroney, with respect, sir, does not.

Catastrophists versus hopefuls

“Population Bombed: Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change”, by Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak”.

I have had the most useful engagement with a book recently, and I thought I would bring it to your attention. For those concerned with the global warming/climate change issue, the biggest challenge is to realize that this issue is perennial, and that its underlying attitudes have been fought over for ages. The clash between outlooks will never be resolved, I suspect, because it is religious in nature. By religious I do not mean having to do with God, or Gaia, but with basic human propensities towards hope or fatalism.

Let me give you the biologist’s view in a simple picture and quote:

In a nutshell, that is the ‘limits to growth’ ideology in two sentences. At the heart of it lies the enemy known as capitalism: relentless, restless, seeking, appetitive, knowing neither piety towards the gods nor despair of the future. Bad dog! Bad man! Bad male! By contrast, the depletionist view holds that we are all just bacteria in a closed petri dish. We will expand until we come up against the limits of the carrying capacity of the planet, as which point we will experience a catastrophic die-off . The metaphor is of fixed limits. It is the product of the epistemic bias of the science of biology.

Then there is the view of the Rational Optimist, which is the view of Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak, and others whose thinking they expose one to. One such is Adam Frank, astrophysicist and astrobiologist, and I quote him:

“It’s not the earth that needs saving. Instead it’s us and our project of civilization that need a new direction. If we fail to make it across the difficult terrain we face, the planet will just move on without us, generating new species in the novel climate it evolves. The ‘we suck’ narrative makes us villains in a story that, ultimately, has none. What the story does have are experiments – the ones that failed the ones that succeeded.” – cited from page 173 of “Population Bombed”

As Adam Frank told Joe Rogan, “we are what the biosphere is making right now”.

Population Bombed reviews the arguments of the catastrophists and their opponents. One such opponent was Julian Simon, an economist, who famously bet the doomist biologist Paul Ehrlich that a list of five natural resources would be cheaper in a decade’s time than they were at the time of the bet. [It appears that Julian Simon chose the right decade for his bet].

More importantly, Population Bombed shows that there was a straight-line relationship among three catastrophist visions: soil depletion in the 1950s, global cooling in the 1970 caused by polluting aerosols, and global warming of the present day. It was pushed by the same people, and funded by the same sources. Doomists changed their particular cause of doom without breaking stride.

Desrochers and Szurmak conclude:

“Trade, the division of labour, more people and more carbon fuels are what allowed humanity to simultaneously bake and enjoy an ever larger number of economic and environmental cakes, while in the process making human societies ever more resilient against extreme weather events and any climate change they may be confronted with”.

Eventually Desrochers and Szurmak seek an understanding of the doomists/limits-to-growthists in the epistemic prejudice of biology, which is set forth above in the quote from Ursula Le Guin. If your governing metaphor is that humans are like bacteria in a petri dish, and hydrocarbons are the sugar that has been added to the mix, then human population will explode until we suffer a catastrophic die-off. In the depletionist mind-set, humans suck, and you do not have to go far before you discover that many eco-catastrophists are very close to exterminationist in their beliefs.

If, by contrast, your view is the humans are constantly adapting , then one is not surprized to find that one of the first adaptations humans have made to prosperity is to reduce their birthrates in all societies across the planet. The education of women – caused by the advances that energy, technology and prosperity have allowed – has led to plunging birthrates, even in societies that have not industrialized. This was the subject of Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline, by Bricker and Ibbotson. Empty Planet is worthwhile but much narrower in scope than Population Bombed, since the former confines itself to a discussion of what world population will do until about 2100.

My point is that the optimists – in reality the hopefuls – are right to emphasize that humans adapt. Resources are not fixed. Indeed, the term “resources” is like the word “weed”, or “kosher” or “haram”; it denotes belonging to a class whose nature has been previously determined on other grounds. The iron age has not yet run out of iron, nor did the stone age run out of stones. What is a “resource” depends on a prior idea of science, technology, or art. Resources are not fixed; they expand or contract as human vision and opinions change.

The optimists are aware of this. The eco-catastrophists are fixated on the metaphors of depletion, finite resources, carrying capacity of the planet, and spaceship earth. The optimists are saying, in essence, that we are the things that dreams are made of. that though we are part of the natural order, we are in the most significant ways not a part of the natural order. Using our curiosity, imaginations, our willingness to learn and trade, and to make, the human species has risen to great heights. If we remain flexible and adaptive, we may survive yet.

Finally, in order to explain better that catastrophist mindset, Desrochers and Szurmak refer to an old favourite of mine, Jane Jacob’s Systems of Survival, one of the most important books ever written. Yes, I know that is a large claim. Jacobs discusses the contrasting moral outlooks of the “guardian” and “commercial” syndromes. It is a book of amazing and concise explanatory power, and doubtless it offends those who cherish confusion, nuance and messiness over clarity and precision. However, Jacobs’ two moral syndromes is a heuristic, a rule of thumb, not an exclusive or exhaustive discussion of all things human.

I leave you to look it up. The interest for me was the linkage that Desrochers and Szurmak forge between the guardian mentality and the eco-doomist catastrophist outlook, which for me was akin to finding that piece of the jigsaw puzzle linking large collections of previously separate areas of thought. Population Bombed situates a contemporary debate in a larger and older clash of ideas and beliefs, and I admire it for grounding me in that age-old discussion, as well as ably advancing the cause of the hopefuls.

“Stick with the optimists. It’s going to be tough enough even if they’re right.” 
― James Barrett Reston

Half the population will die if the Green Plan is implemented – Patrick Moore

If you are of my school of thought, this is the actual goal of the Greens: mass extermination of humans, based on pure misanthropy. Here is Patrick Moore, former leader of Greenpeace.

Only rising prosperity will guarantee the reduction of the human population. Fertility is dropping everywhere in the world as women become educated. This includes especially Islamic societies, where the birth dearth is taking place in three generations instead of 150 years, as it did here. Women become educated when the societies in which they live pass beyond subsistence, and fossil fuels are the main reason the world has passed beyond subsistence. See Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson’s Empty Planet: the Shock of Global Population Decline.

Also, Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist draws a direct line between fossil fuel consumption and the increasing prosperity of the last four centuries.

According to Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk, this is all a crime against Gaia and a disaster, because, as we all know, food is made in the basement of supermarkets.

The Wizard and the Prophet

Norman Borlaug


I like books that go to the root of things. Charles Mann has written one such. He is the author of 1491 and 1493, which explored, respectively, the world of the Americas immediately before the European discovery of America by Columbus, and the world after it. We continue to live with the consequences of that discovery.

Mann is not afraid to tackle large subjects. In his latest, the Wizard and the Prophet, he writes of the contest of views between the original ecologist and catastrophist, William Vogt, and the original optimist-scientist improver, Norman Borlaug. The latter man was the author of the Green Revolution. The former is the proponent of the view that we must all live within the limits imposed by Gaia, and that we are abusing the planet’s carrying capacity.

Canada cannot get a pipeline built, in part because our Liberal government inclines more to the Vogt position than the Borlaug position. Society is in turmoil because of fears of catastrophic global warming, overpopulation, and ocean acidification because of the views propounded by William Vogt and his catastrophist successors.

Charles Mann has done us a great service by laying out the debate and the values behind the debate about the good life that each man, Vogt and Borlaug, embodied.

The Wizard and the Prophet resembles another great book, Arthur Hermans’s The Cave and the Light, which treats of the continuing unresolved and unresolvable conflict between the approaches to reality expounded by Plato and Aristotle. The two books are lively, high level, and important, and to read them is to gain an education in something of supreme importance in the struggle of ideas.

Unfortunately we live in an era when people seek to win arguments by preventing argument from happening. “We shouldn’t even be discussing this” is the motif of the mindless hordes of the PC brainwashed. “It is settled science”.

With respect, no, it is not settled and cannot ever be settled, because the issue is not the science, it is a choice between experiment, innovation, risk and growth, on the one hand, and conservatism, control, stagnation, and the management of greater poverty, on the other.

Yes I am a rational optimist. I chose to get out of the Club of Rome catastrophism in 1976, while a huge swath of the intelligentsia seem to be still stuck there.

And hence we cannot get pipelines built. Ideas have consequences.




Exterminate carbon units!

If you like mass doom you will like this article . Borrowing a theme from the television show Dr. Who, occasionally nature tries to exterminate life on earth, as the Daleks try to do to humans in science fiction.

Bianca Bosker, writing in this month’s Atlantic about a lady paleontologist who does not accept the Chicxulub asteroid extinction theory, has this to say,

Over the course of its 4.5-billion-year existence, the Earth has occasionally lashed out against its inhabitants. At five different times, mass extinctions ensued.

Seven hundred million years ago, the oceans’ single-cell organisms started linking together to form multicellular creatures. Four hundred and forty-four million years ago, nearly all of those animals were wiped out by the planet’s first global annihilation. The Earth recovered—fish appeared in the seas, four-legged amphibians crawled onto land—and then, 372 million years ago, another catastrophe destroyed three-quarters of all life. For more than 100 million years after that, creatures thrived. The planet hosted the first reptiles, the first shelled eggs, the first plants with seeds. Forests swarmed with giant dragonflies whose wings stretched two feet across, and crawled with millipedes nearly the length of a car. Then, 252 million years ago, the “Great Dying” began. When it finished, 96 percent of all species had vanished. The survivors went forth and multiplied—until, 201 million years ago, another mass extinction knocked out half of them.

The age of the dinosaurs opened with continents on the move. Landmasses that had spent millions of years knotted together into the supercontinent of Pangaea began to drift apart, and oceans—teeming with sponges, sharks, snails, corals, and crocodiles—flooded into the space between them. It was swimsuit weather most places on land: Even as far north as the 45th parallel, which today roughly marks the U.S.–Canada border, the climate had a humid, subtropical feel. The North Pole, too warm for ice, grew lush with pines, ferns, and palm-type plants. The stegosaurs roamed, then died, and tyrannosaurs took their place. (More time separates stegosaurs from tyrannosaurs—about 67 million years—than tyrannosaurs from humans, which have about 66 million years between them.) It was an era of evolutionary innovation that yielded the first flowering plants, the earliest placental mammals, and the largest land animals that ever lived. Life was good—right up until it wasn’t.


Later, writing about the explosion of an Icelandic volcano called Laki,  which wiped out a fifth of Iceland’s population, more gloom ensues:


On June 8, 1783, Iceland’s Laki volcano began to smoke. The ground wrenched open “like an animal tearing apart its prey” and out spilled a “flood of fire,” according to an eyewitness’s diary. Laki let loose clouds of sulfur, fluorine, and hydrofluoric acid, blanketing Europe with the stench of rotten eggs. The sun disappeared behind a haze so thick that at noon it was too dark to read. (Unlike the cone-shaped stratovolcanoes from third-grade science class, both Deccan and Laki were fissure eruptions, which fracture the Earth’s crust, spewing lava as the ground pulls apart.)

Destruction was immediate. Acid rain burned through leaves, blistered unprotected skin, and poisoned plants. People and animals developed deformed joints, softened bones, cracked gums, and strange growths on their bodies—all symptoms of fluorine poisoning. Mass death began eight days after the eruption. More than 60 percent of Iceland’s livestock died within a year, along with more than 20 percent of its human population. And the misery spread. Benjamin Franklin reported a “constant fog” over “a great part of North America.” Severe droughts plagued India, China, and Egypt. Cold temperatures in Japan ushered in what is remembered as the “year without a summer,” and the nation suffered the worst famine in its history. Throughout Europe, crops turned white and withered, and in June, desiccated leaves covered the ground as though it were October. Europe’s famine lasted three years; historians have blamed Laki for the start of the French Revolution.


The article is relevant for a number of reasons. First, it details planetary catastrophes have already occurred, which should sober anyone. Second, it narrates an unresolved  battle of words between those who believe that dinosaurs were wiped out by the Chicxulub asteroid and those who think they were wiped out by massive (fantastically massive) volcanic outpourings that produced the basaltic plateau that covers most of India, the Deccan Traps. Third, it lends credence to my idea that a great many scientific disputes operate at any given time. When you hear some idiot say that “the science is settled”, you know you are hearing a political statement. The science is never settled. It is only provisionally accepted in some quarters for some people, for some time.


Wizards versus Prophets: How to feed 10 billion people

The Atlantic carries a useful discussion of two schools of thought, one of which is broadly eco-doomist, and the other is ameliorist. The dispute takes place in the vital issue of agriculture, and the author situates the dispute as one between William Vogt (1902-1968) and Norman Borlaug, (1914-2009) father the Green Revolution. It will come as no surprise that they knew and despised each other.

Vogt published his views in 1948 in a book called the Road to Survival, which, according to Wikipedia set forth

…his strong belief that then-current trends in fertility and economic growth were rapidly destroying the environment and undermining the quality of life of future generations. Vogt’s most significant contribution was to link environmental and perceived overpopulation problems, warning in no uncertain terms that current trends would deliver future wars, hunger, disease and civilizational collapse.

Road to Survival was an influential best seller. It had a big impact on a Malthusian revival in the 1950s and 60s. After its publication he dedicated many activities to the cause of overpopulation. From 1951 to 1962, he served as a National Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Borlaug, says Wikipedia:

…was often called “the father of the Green Revolution”,[5][6] and is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.[7][8][9][10] According to Jan Douglas, executive assistant to the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, the source of this number is Gregg Easterbrook‘s 1997 article “Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity”, the article states that the “form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths.”[11] He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

As a Bengali-born professor of economics once told me, in relation to the Green Revolution, “when I first came to Bangladesh I could see the ribs of the rice farmers; now I can’t”.

The Atlantic article is entertaining and informative, but it fails to mention the vital point, which determines whether Vogt or Borlaug will win the argument. As soon as women can be guaranteed that they will have one or two surviving children, they cease to have more. Everywhere in the world, industrialized or not, population growth is crashing. This process is occurring with great suddenness in Islamic countries. The world population will be 10 billion by 2050; what the article fails to mention is that it will be 7 billion by 2100, according to David Goldman, who bases himself on UN population projections and the latest birth rates.

These issue are explored in David Goldman’s How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is dying too). The book overturns a number of beliefs that were drummed into us in the 1970s and beyond: overpopulation, ecological disaster, resources running out, doom, in short.

Goldman advances the view that throughout history, but especially now, population decline is mostly to be feared, because it throws economies into a tailspin. Fertility rates have fallen below replacement in nearly all wealthy countries, and are doing so in Islamic countries.

In the great ideological debate about human nutrition, one can only hope that Borlaug’s practical optimism will prevail. The eco-doomist vision has never failed to produce want, misery and failure. Stick with the optimists, it will be tough enough even if they are right.

Of the questions that need to be asked bout human society in the next decades, the relevant one is whether we will still breed in 2050 enough to avoid social and economic collapse. There will be enough food, enough water, and enough resources. The truly important question is whether there will be enough humans to enjoy them by 2100. Spengler maintains that birth rates are falling between the green line and the yellow line in the UN population projections, shown below. (I leave aside the important question whether the remaining humans will be slaves or masters of their robotic machinery).

World Population Estimates

Goldman says the green line is the correct one.


Books I am reading now


Utopia is Creepy, and other provocations, by Nicholas Carr

A series of excellent blog posts of essay quality by the former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. If you feel as I do that most of what passes as novel and revolutionary in Silicon Valley is twaddle, and is heading us into a totalitarian state, this is your book. Internet 2.0 – remember that? If yes, you now know it meant nothing. If no, you cannot remember Internet 2.0, it illustrates the importance of not paying much attention to buzzwords out of the Bay area. Carr was the guy who first saw contributors to Facebook as “digital sharecroppers”, where the only person to reap the economic value of everyone working for free was Mark Zuckerberg. It is a better book than I have described here.


The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen 

This book deservedly won the Pulitzer prize. Here we have found a true son of the English language in this Vietnamese emigré. A biting satire about a South Vietnamese secret police officer of cultivated tastes who reports to his bosses in the North, after the escape from Vietnam to California. Droll, ironic, high-spirited, and scathing, though it never ceases to be funny. Quite an accomplishment.

Russia at War (1941-1945) by Alexander Werth

Alexander Werth was a British journalist of German-Russian origin. I recall Professor Vogel praising it back in 1968 at McGill, and I finally came across a copy. It fulfills every expectation of history and good reportage. The book contains many first hand accounts of what he saw, or was allowed to see, of the Russian front. Though Werth was a left-wing journalist, you will not be led astray by his hopes for the Soviet Union, or by what he recounts. That the Russians raped their way through Germany at the end of the war will become better understood if you read this dreadful account.

The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s forgotten theory of mate choice shapes the animal world, and us, by Richard O. Prum

Everyone acts as if Darwin had devised only one theory of evolution when in fact he devised two: natural and sexual selection. I cannot tell you much about it yet, but if it turns out to be half as good as Geoffrey Miller’s The Mating Mind of 2001 or Jared Diamond’s Why is Sex Fun?  of 1998, the book will be important. My theory of sexual selection is that Darwin found that natural selection could not explain the speed or directedness of human evolution: why we got so smart, so fast, and bravely set out to explain how that could have come about by mutual choice of each sex for certain characteristics in the other. My brief glimpses into Prum’s book assures me that he disposes quickly of some contemporary rubbish about sexuality.

Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst, by Robert Sapolsky

Too soon to tell, but it looks to be a powerful work of a wide-ranging intellect and great writing style.

Evolution is rapid and happening now: everyone take a valium



Chris D. Thomas is an English biologist. His book, “Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction”, takes a line wholly contrary to that of eco-catastrophists. His argument is particularly effective because he adopts the orthodox view that humans are causing significant global warming. It makes no difference to your appreciation of this book whether you may be a skeptic of or a believer in anthropogenic global warming.

His argument is simple and based in plenty of observations. Animals and plants adapt by moving. Humans assist that movement greatly. Animals and plants hybridize, interbreed, form new variants, new species, new ways of living. This adaptation is happening right now, all over the world. For every species we have wiped out – usually predators and prey larger than us – we have assisted the creation of many more new species and hybrids. This is what nature does, and we humans are powerfully assisting those processes.

Thomas believes that we are living through the most rapid period of evolution since the aftermath of the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. “We are living through a period of  the rapid formation of new populations, races and species” (at p.197)

He justly derides most efforts of humans to stop “invasive” species. He says there is no reason to believe that species should stay frozen in place where they were when Europeans “discovered” them in the 17 and 18 hundreds.

What applies to plants and animals, applies to us humans. As we spread across the world, we separated into different races, bred with Neanderthals and Denisovans, and became more different from each other, not less.  (Your genetic make-up is most likely to be about 2.5% Neanderthal if you have not recently been African).

“This separation into many different species could have been our destiny, had it not been for the torrent of human movement around the world that we have seen in recent times, the consequence of which is that the world’s human genes are ending up back in one big Pangean melting pot.”

Later, at page 213:

“We must contemplate life as a never ending sequence of events, not as a single fixed image of how it looks today. This dynamic perspective of life on Earth allows us to put aside most of our doom-laden rhetric and recognize that the changes that we see around us, including those that have been directly or indirectly engineered by people, are not fundamentally better or worse thanthe ones that went before….We do not need to fix things simply because they are different.”

In a curious way Thomas is saying much the same thing as Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending did in The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution”, which was published in 2009. Harpending and Cochran dealt with human evolution exclusively, and asserted that it had to be accelerating as population densities increased.

They wrote:

The explosion is ongoing; Human evolution didn’t stop when anatomically modern humans appeared, or when they expanded out of Africa. It never stopped – and why would it? Evolutionary stasis requires a static environment, whereas behavioral modernity is all about innovation and change. Stability is exactly what we have not had. This should be obvious, but instead the human sciences have labored under the strange idea that evolution stopped 40,000 years ago.” (p.226)

The argument of Chris Thomas is that humans have had, and continue to have, irreversible effects on nature, and that there is no place on earth where our influence has failed to reach. More importantly, there is no “ought to be” in how species move, adapt, die out, hybridize, or prosper. Thomas warns against  the common attitude of many biologists that humans are uniquely responsible for trying to arrest the millions of changes by which plants, animals, and humans adapt to the changes we are working on the planet.

‘No change’ is not an option when we contemplate the future: our choices are all about the direction and speed of future change. (at page 219)

I am not concerned


A long ago friend once entertained a GreenPeace activist at his door. The activist earnestly explained what was going wrong with the Great Lakes. At the end of the spiel, my friend said to the young man, “Thank you very much, but I am not concerned”. The activist was aghast. Appalled. “How can you not be concerned?” “Very easily. I am not concerned” and shut the door.

I keep thinking of that response when the global worry industry finds new concerns to pile on top of the existing ones: global warming, population growth, acidification of the oceans (viz. coral reefs), tobacco, meat, the list is endless .

Today’s concern, for the sort of person who gains something by appearing to be concerned,  is the spread of moss and houseflies in Antarctica. It appears that, as the coldest continent has warmed by some 3C in the past century, life is spreading. The Guardian is alarmed.

More and more invasive plants – mostly non-native meadow grasses and sunflower species – have been found on the Antarctic peninsula and its islands and have required removal. In addition, a paper in Biodiversity and Conservation by Kevin Hughes of the British Antarctic Survey and others, indicates that current biosecurity measures to control these invasions are inadequate.

I will admit there are some things to be concerned about. Whether you or your children will live in poverty. Whether Islam or political correctness or both will prevail. Whether universities will continue to be cesspits of leftism. Whether the US political intelligence establishment will overthrow Trump. Whether the US policy establishment will continue to destroy countries in the Middle East. Whether the 1% will own 85% of all wealth by 2050, or sooner. Islamic refugees in Europe. And so forth.

Can you imagine the sort of comfort zone in which someone must live, that they become alarmed at mosses and insects spreading to colonize Antarctica? A superfluity of concern. A superfluity of comfort from which to look out on the world. It is worthy of Jonathan Swift.

I am sorry, sir/madam, I am NOT concerned.