“In the shift towards environmentalism, rich people have increasingly lost track of the need to improve the standards of living of working class and poor people who do not have access to cheap, reliable and scalable power sources.”
“The communist drive to overthrow the privilege of the few resulted in extreme authoritarianism and the deaths of millions of people. Further attempts to lie about our natures and to displace our instinctive drives will result in misery.”
Part II today completes a point-by-point rebuttal of executive producer Jeff Gibbs’s defense of Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans. Points 1–10 were covered yesterday; 11–20 follow below.
11) Fairy tales of green technology saving the planet protect us from the full weight of just how bad things are and from making a real plan to save ourselves and a planet worth living on.
No. The trillions of dollars wasted on “fairy tales of green technology” should be left in the hands of creative people who would then have more incentives to focus on real problems and the development of technologies with both economic and environmental benefits. And who would make this “real plan?” The only way forward is to let individuals try millions of different solutions with the right incentives ahead of them.
12) Biomass and biofuel remain the largest portion of what’s defined as green energy around the world.
True, and their use is unsustainable. It was a fuelwood and charcoal shortage that motivated the development of cleaner and more efficient coal burning as an alternative. As the economist William Stanley Jevonsobserved in 1865: “Forests of an extent two and a half times exceeding the whole area of the United Kingdom would be required to furnish even a theoretical equivalent to [the country’s] annual coal produce.”
13) The only way to use less fossil fuels is to use less fossil fuels.
The only way to use less fossil fuels is to develop truly superior alternatives. Gibbs’ refusal to consider nuclear energy is another green elephant in the room.
14) Job one is to take back control of our economies, our culture, our environmental movement from those who profit from the status quo: billionaires, bankers, industrialists, and their wealthy foundations.
Job one is to put an end to crony capitalism and let market competition, through a decentralized process of trial-and-error, determine which alternatives are truly superior. No amount of central planning will ever be better than thousands of decentralized and individual attempts: those experiments simultaneously running in different “life labs.”
15) In the shift from “ecology” to “environmentalism” we’ve gotten more and more obsessed with how things impact humans rather than our Mother Earth.
In the shift towards environmentalism, rich people have increasingly lost track of the need to improve the standards of living of working class and poor people who do not have access to cheap, reliable and scalable power sources.
16) If we think the collapse of bird, insect, mammal, reptile, fish, amphibian, and plant populations around the planet won’t come around to haunt us humans, we are sadly mistaken. See: the pandemic.
Pandemics were common long before the development of carbon fuels, as, sadly, were extinctions. The best way to fight pandemics is to tap into ever more numerous and educated brains made possible by an ever greater globalized division of labor.
17) A world in which nature heals and revives will be a world full of the right kinds of magic. Millions of square miles of technology plastered across the planet is the wrong kind of “magic.”
The best way to revive nature at the moment is to dig up more carbon fuels, minerals and sediments (e.g., sand, clay, gravel).
18) Our only hope is to design a world in which “less is the new more” and nature recovers; a world where the well-off humans share it with those who have less; a world in which humanity reinvents itself.
In 1960 the American Trotskyist Joseph Hansen argued that Marxists had long taken “a decidedly different view of humanity” than neo-Malthusians because they “note that man has hands and a brain, the capacity to use tools and an inclination for teamwork. These have made him, in distinction to all other animals, a food producer.”
Hansen added that, in “today’s world, hunger is completely abnormal. Humanity can produce all it needs and many times over. Moreover, man’s capacity to increase his food supply expands with the increase in population and at an ever higher rate than population growth.” A big population was therefore
an asset, not a liability. Failure to see this rather obvious fact is the basic flaw in the Malthusian argument.
Old-fashioned Marxists had the wrong approach to achieve their goals, but in a market economy ever greener wealth can be created. There is no way to “design” a world in which people share without some great incentives.
19) What that world looks like is not for me to say, but for all of us to co-create.
In the “Major Findings and Conclusions” of the Global 2000 Report to the President, produced at the request of the Carter administration and published in 1980, the authors summarized their findings as follows:
If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources, and environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the world’s people will be poorer in many ways than they are today.
For hundreds of millions of the desperately poor, the outlook for food and other necessities of life will be no better. For many it will be worse. Barring revolutionary advances in technology, life for most people on earth will be more precarious in 2000 than it is now – unless the nations of the world act decisively to alter current trends.
Optimistic economist Julian Simon and Herman Kahn rewrote this passage in 1984 light of their own analysis and conclusions:
If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be less crowded (though more populated), less polluted, more stable ecologically, and less vulnerable to resource-supply disruption than the world we live in now. Stresses involving population, resources, and environment will be less in the future than now… The world’s people will be richer in most ways than they are today… The outlook for food and other necessities of life will be better … life for most people on earth will be less precarious economically than it is now.
Simon and Kahn, like other techno/market optimists before and since, were proven right.
20) If we do get ourselves under control, we will be happier. If we don’t —
In a market economy, continued progress is assured, provided that
- The drive to innovate, the desire to create technological and social solutions, and the desire for betterment and wealth are acknowledged as parts of human nature and
- The founding principles of human cultures, channelled through incentives, permit solutions from which we are free to choose.
If we deny that there is value to various human drives, that they all have a place, and that they can all be contextualized and incentivised, we will be in trouble.
The communist drive to overthrow the privilege of the few resulted in extreme authoritarianism and the deaths of millions of people. Further attempts to lie about our natures and to displace our instinctive drives will result in misery.
As long as “getting ourselves under control” is a process of dialogue and individual choice based on insight and understanding, all may be well. If “getting us under control” is a repeat of the communist bloodbaths of the 20th century, then Malthusian doom will have cruelly and perversely come true.