Unfortunately, some misuse science. Some of their intentions, are far from benevolent. They see science as a mechanism for political power and control. There is great danger from those who would use science for political control over us.

How do they do this? They instill, and then continuously magnify, fear. Fear is the most effective instrument of totalitarian control.

Chet Richards, physicist,


Saturday, 11 July 2020

Your Children should not be Pessimistic about the Environment, and you can help them learn why

It is possible to believe, as Matt Ridley does, that climate change is man-made, and still be pleased about the industrial and agricultural development of recent decades, and to be optimistic about the future.  Here are three extracts from an article he published earlier this month in PERC:

Against Environmental Pessimism

(1) 'Far from starving, the seven billion people who now inhabit the planet are far better fed than the four billion of 1980. Famine has pretty much gone extinct in recent decades. In the 1960s, about two million people died of famine; in the decade that just ended, tens of thousands died—and those were in countries run by callous tyrants. Paul Ehrlich, the ecologist and best-selling author who declared in 1968 that “[t]he battle to feed all of humanity is over” and forecast that “hundreds of millions of people will starve to death”—and was given a genius award for it—proved to be very badly wrong.
Remarkably, this feeding of seven billion people has happened without taking much new land under the plow and the cow. Instead, in many places farmland has reverted to wilderness. In 2009, Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University calculated that thanks to more farmers getting access to better fertilizers, pesticides, and biotechnology, the area of land needed to produce a given quantity of food—averaged for all crops—was 65 percent less than in 1961. As a result, an area the size of India will be freed up by mid-century. That is an enormous boost for wildlife. National parks and other protected areas have expanded steadily as well.'

(2) 'Here’s a question I put to school children when I get the chance: Why is the wolf population increasing, the lion decreasing, and the tiger now holding its own? The answer is simple: Wolves live in rich countries, lions in poor countries, and tigers in middle-income countries. It turns out that we conservationists were wrong to fear economic development in the 1980s. Prosperity is the best thing that can happen to a country’s wildlife. As people get richer, they can afford to buy electricity rather than cut wood, buy chicken rather than hunt bushmeat, or get a job in a town rather than try to scratch a living from a patch of land. They can also stop worrying that their children will starve and start to care about the environment. In country after country, first in Asia, then in Latin America, and now increasingly in Africa, that process of development leading to environmental gains has swiftly delivered a turning point in the fortunes of wild ecosystems. 
One way of measuring such progress is to look at forests. Forests are still being cut down in poor countries, but they are expanding in rich ones. It turns out that when a country reaches a certain level of income, around $5,000 per person per year, it starts reforesting. This is because people become wealthy enough to stop relying on wood fires for cooking and to use electricity or gas instead. Bangladesh, for example, was desperately poor in 1980 but is now rich enough to be significantly increasing its forest cover today.'

(3) 'What else might we achieve by the year 2060, when I shall be 102? Even though there will then be more than nine billion people, it is almost certain there will be larger forests, more wildlife, cleaner rivers, and richer seas, because that is what is currently happening. Most people who deny this, and insist things are getting worse, are simply wrong. The latest example is the “insect apocalypse,” a scare that has been widely reported by the media but is based on inadequate data and ridiculous exaggerations from one or two small-scale studies of dubious value.
There is, however, one thing that worries me, and it is this: Some environmentalists, as steeped in pessimism today as I was 40 years ago, are determined to push policies that actually harm the environment. They want us to farm organically, even though that uses more land and does more harm to the soil than farming with chemicals and biotechnology. They want us to get all of the energy we need from the sun or the wind, even if it means covering the landscape in industrial structures to try to extract energy from extremely low-density sources. They want us to turn crops into fuel, via ethanol from corn or diesel from palm oil, even though this means pinching land from wildlife. They want us to reject biotechnology and nuclear power, two practices that reduce humans’ environmental footprint. They want us to recycle plastic, rather than incinerate it, which has resulted in an industry of exporting plastic to Asia where much of it ends up dumped in the ocean. In short, their policies are in many cases actually worse for the environment.'

See the PERC article to read the rest.  Hat-tip: Climate Depot.

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