Saturday, April 26, 2014

Some contradictions

I don't know much about "sustainability" -- except that it evokes near-religious reactions on most college campuses and other such venues.  And it is not so clear. It is “… development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UNConference on Sustainable Development, 1987). We can count our blessings that this stuff was not practiced 100, 200, 500, etc. years ago.

Matt Ridley is always worth listening to.  In today's WSJ, he writes about "The Scarcity Fallacy ... Ecologists worry that the world's resources come in fixed amounts that will run out, but we have broken through such limits again and again. How innovation improves the environment." In just a few hundred words, he itemizes about 75 things that the conventional wisdom gets wrong. And this is the stuff that elites believe -- and the basis of policies they yearn to impose on the rest of us.

Here are just two of my favorites. "... the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent forecast that temperatures would rise by 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels by 2100 was based on several assumptions: little technological change, an end to (italics mine) the 50-year fall in population growth rates, a tripling (only) of per capita income and not much improvement in the energy efficiency of the economy." And "In his recent book 'The View from Lazy Point,' the ecologist Carl Safina estimates that if everybody had the living standards of Americans, we would need 2.5 Earths because the world's agricultural land just couldn't grow enough food for more than 2.5 billion people at that level of consumption."

Think about it. If everybody lived at the living standards of Americans (and I wish they could) that would mean that hundreds of millions have become massively more productive than they are now.  If so, we would have to re-visit the IPCC assumptions that Ridley cites. He would have us believe that the "green" platform contains some contradictions.


More by Ridley, same idea.