Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Word to Environmentalists

The “extremists” among you openly call for the death of 1 to 6.4 billion human beings. The “moderates” among you openly call for the forced reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 90 percent within a few decades, which would serve to reduce energy use almost to the same extent. Such a severe reduction in energy use follows from the fact that there are no presently existing large-scale viable alternatives to fossil fuels other than atomic power, which is regarded by most members of your movement as a death ray and is opposed more vehemently than fossil fuels. Furthermore, the likelihood of ever finding and developing such alternatives will be greatly reduced by destroying the energy sources we do have and need to increase. So what your movement advocates is mass death or, at the very least, dreadful mass impoverishment whose outcome will be tens or hundreds of millions of unnecessary deaths and a life of misery for those who survive.

If your motivation in calling yourself an environmentalist is merely such things as that you like to see flowers bloom on open meadows, and love trees, whales, and polar bears, and the like, then you owe it to yourself to put as much intellectual and moral distance as possible between you and those who advocate mass impoverishment and mass death.

The first step you need to take is to stop using the same word “environmentalist” to describe both them and you. So long as you do use the same word, people cannot help but think of you all in the same terms.

Don’t think you can solve the problem by calling yourself a “free-market environmentalist.” That’s like calling yourself a “free-market Communist” or a “free-market Nazi.” They’re contradictions in terms.

The free market exists to promote prosperity and human life, and that is what it has accomplished, splendidly, with breathtaking brilliance. In the industrialized world, the average person today enjoys a standard of living superior to that of kings and emperors of the past. The whole world’s population is capable of enjoying the same marvelous results, if it adopts economic freedom. But if you call yourself an “environmentalist,” you mark yourself as sharing the goals of mass destruction and death. A socialist dictatorship is the vehicle for achieving those goals, not a free market.

It is true that many American businessmen, some of them extremely talented and successful, now call themselves “environmentalists” and are stumbling over themselves in a race to prove how “green” they are. In the early 1930s, many talented and successful German businessmen did essentially the same thing when they began to call themselves “Nazis” and raced to prove their devotion to National Socialism. It’s possible for people to be geniuses in one area of their lives and fools, or worse, in other areas. In any event, the outcome for the German businessmen, and for all other talented individuals who joined either the Nazis or the Communists, was that they ended up as accomplices of mass murderers. The same will be true in the United States, if the environmentalists succeed in imposing their agenda.

If you care about your moral character, don’t place an indelible stain on it by supporting a movement that seeks to destroy Industrial Civilization and all the human lives and human well-being that depend on it. Accept moral responsibility for the ideas you propound and stop standing in the service of mass destruction and death.

Do not come back with the argument that if we uphold individual freedom, our great grandchildren will have to live in an uninhabitable planet, one that is either too hot or too cold. Sooner or later Nature itself will make the climate considerably warmer or considerably colder than it is today (most likely colder). The only significant question is what is the best method of coping with such change? Is it the free market or a centrally planned dictatorship that reaches down into every detail of everyone’s personal life and productive activities, that, indeed, wants to control the carbon content practically of every breath that anyone draws?

Even if you are absolutely convinced that human activities are responsible for global warming and, if nothing is done, will ultimately result in an intolerable rise in temperature, there is a very simple test that you need to apply. Pretend, for just a moment, that that same global warming is coming about independently of human activities, that it is strictly the product of natural forces. Then ask yourself, what would be the best fundamental method of coping with it? Maintaining a free market or establishing a centrally planned socialist system?

More fundamentally, what is the appropriate method for Man to use in dealing with Nature in general? Is it the motivated and coordinated human intelligence of all individual market participants that is provided by a free market and its price system? Or is it the unmotivated, discoordinated chaos in which one man, the Supreme Dictator, or a handful of men, the Supreme Dictator and his fellow members of the Central Planning Board, claim a monopoly on human intelligence and on the right to make fundamental decisions?

Suppose even that the warming caused by Nature were such that what was required to deal with it was some sort of space program, perhaps emitting thousands of tiny mirrors that would prevent some sunlight from reaching the earth by reflecting it back into space. Suppose further that as a practical matter, given our present state of social organization, the only realistic means of carrying out such a program was through governmental action—a kind of public works project, as it were. In which circumstances, would such a program be more likely to be feasible: in those of the primitive economies characteristic of third world countries or in those of advanced industrial economies? And would they not be more likely to be feasible in an economy substantially more advanced than our own is at present?

The answer to the question of how best to cope with intolerable global warming caused by Nature is obviously the maintenance of the free market, not its replacement by Socialist central planning. Indeed, the answer is to make the free market freer than it now is—as much freer as is humanly possible. This is because while the primary reason for advocating a free market is the greater prosperity and enjoyment it brings to everyone in the course of his normal, everyday life, a major, secondary reason is to have the greatest possible industrial base available for coping with catastrophic events, whether those events be war, plague, meteors from outer space, intolerable global warming, or a new ice age.

In effect, what the environmentalists would have us do as the means of preparing for coping with a coming global warming is analogous to the imaginary absurdity of the United States in the 1930s having reduced its economy to the level, say, of Poland’s economy. Then, when World War II came, our country would have had to fight the war with horses instead of tanks and planes. In the same way, the environmentalists would have us cope with global warming by waving little fans instead of using air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers.

Now what, if anything, changes if we assume that global warming is an unintended by-product of the human productive activities that make life possible and enjoyable? How does it possibly follow from this that the only means of stopping this much-less-than-certain outcome is by suffering the absolutely certain impoverishment and death that will come from the destruction of most of our present sources of energy?

Is there absolutely no other way to deal with global warming than the destruction of our economic system? Is that how we would deal with it if global warming were the product of Nature, and not the by-product of our activities? Would the environmentalists then ask us to engage in what in the circumstances would be a merely ritual sacrifice incapable of accomplishing anything beyond itself?

If they would not do that, then they would have to look for other alternatives as the means of coping with global warming. Why aren’t they looking for those other alternatives now? Why on earth should the first and only solution for global warming as a by-product of human activity be the scuttling of our energy base? Do we deserve to be exterminated for our unintended by-products? Must we really choose to live in poverty and misery, surrounded by death, in order to avoid excessive heat? Can absolutely no other way be found? (The likely answer is actually no more complicated than having the greater energy base required to build and power bigger and better air conditioners.)

Do you environmentalists who do not want to think of yourselves as misanthropes, as recycled Communists or Nazis, do you really want to entrust your lives and material well being, and the lives and material well being of everyone who may matter to you, to the power of government officials to tax carbon emissions and to limit the total of such emissions? Are you willing to entrust this power to today’s President (who at least has the good sense not to want it)? Do you want to entrust it to any of the candidates with a realistic chance to succeed him (who do want this power and may even crave it)? Do you want to entrust it to the members of the United States Congress? To the members of the United Nations General Assembly?

Do you want them to decide how much man-made energy is to be available to you in every aspect or your life, by their imposing carbon taxes and carbon caps? These will be taxes and constraints on you that are tantamount to adding extra dead weight to your body and to restricting your power to move your own limbs. And they will go on increasing in severity, to the point that you, or your children or grandchildren, will drop from exhaustion. For the effect of every loss of energy use is a corresponding imposition on the meager power of human muscles and the human frame. And if the impositions cannot be borne, the products that depended on the lost energy use can no longer be produced. If the environmentalist agenda is imposed, the day will come when your descendants, if they have any awareness of it at all, will look back on our time as a mythical Golden Age never to be achieved again.

Is that what you want?

It’s not too late for you to change your mind, abandon any support you may have been giving to environmentalism’s program of impoverishment and death, and come over to the side of the values of human life, wealth, and happiness—the values Mises fought for under the banner of genuine Liberalism.

Copyright © 2008, by George Reisman. George Reisman, Ph.D. is the author of
Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. His web site is www.capitalism.net and his blog is www.georgereisman.com/blog/.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Global Warming Is Not a Threat but the Environmentalist Response to It Is (Full Version)

This article is the original, full version from which three previous articles that have appeared on this blog were excerpted. Those articles were “The Environmentalist Noose Is Tightening” (February 9, 2007, “Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is” (Monday, March 05, 2007), and “Global Warming: Environmentalism’s Threat of Hell on Earth” (Tuesday, March 13, 2007).

Global Warming Does Not Imply a Carbon Cap

Early this winter, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the summary of its latest report on global warming. It’s most trumpeted finding was that the existence of global warming is now “unequivocal.”

Although such anecdotal evidence as January’s snowfall in Tucson, Arizona and freezing weather in Southern California, and February’s more than 100-inch snowfall in upstate New York, might suggest otherwise, global warming may indeed be a fact. It may also be a fact that it is a by-product of industrial civilization (despite two ice ages having apparently occurred in the face of carbon levels in the atmosphere 16 times greater than that of today, millions of years before mankind’s appearance on earth).

If global warming and mankind’s responsibility for it really are facts, does anything automatically follow from them? Does it follow that there is a need to limit and/or reduce carbon emissions and the use of the fossil fuels—oil, coal, and natural gas—that gives rise to the emissions? The need for such limitation and/or rollback is the usual assumption.

Nevertheless, the truth is that nothing whatever follows from these facts. Before any implication for action can be present, additional information is required.

One essential piece of information is the comparative valuation attached to retaining industrial civilization versus avoiding global warming. If one values the benefits provided by industrial civilization above the avoidance of the losses alleged to result from global warming, it follows that nothing should be done to stop global warming that destroys or undermines industrial civilization. That is, it follows that global warming should simply be accepted as a byproduct of economic progress and that life should go on as normal in the face of it.

(Of course, there are projections of unlikely but nevertheless possible extreme global warming in the face of which conditions would be intolerable. However, as I explain below, to deal with such a possibility, it is necessary merely to find a different method of cooling the earth than that of curtailing the use of fossil fuels; I also show that such methods are already at hand.)

In fact, if it comes, global warming, in the projected likely range, will bring major benefits to much of the world. Central Canada and large portions of Siberia will become similar in climate to New England today. So too, perhaps, will portions of Greenland. The disappearance of Arctic ice in summer time, will shorten important shipping routes by thousands of miles. Growing seasons in the North Temperate Zone will be longer. Plant life in general will flourish because of the presence of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Strangely, these facts are rarely mentioned. Instead, attention is devoted almost exclusively to the negatives associated with global warming, above all to the prospect of rising sea levels, which the report projects to be between 7 and 23 inches by the year 2100, a range, incidentally, that by itself does not entail major coastal flooding. (There are, however, projections of a rise in sea levels of 20 feet or more over the course of the remainder of the present millennium.)

Yes, rising sea levels may cause some islands and coastal areas to become submerged under water and require that large numbers of people settle in other areas. Surely, however, the course of a century, let alone a millennium, should provide ample opportunity for this to occur without any necessary loss of life.

Indeed, a very useful project for the UN’s panel to undertake in preparation for its next report would be a plan by which the portion of the world not threatened with rising sea levels would accept the people who are so threatened. In other words, instead of responding to global warming with government controls, in the form of limitations on the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, an alternative response would be devised that would be a solution in terms of greater freedom of migration.

In addition, the process of adaptation here in the United States would be helped by making all areas determined to be likely victims of coastal flooding in the years ahead ineligible for any form of governmental aid, insurance, or disaster relief after the expiration of a reasonable grace period. That would spur relocation to safer areas in advance of much of any future flooding.

What Depends on Industrial Civilization and Man-Made Power

As the result of industrial civilization, not only do billions more people survive, but in the advanced countries they do so on a level far exceeding that of kings and emperors in all previous ages—on a level that just a few generations ago would have been regarded as possible only in a world of science fiction. With the turn of a key, the push of a pedal, and the touch of a steering wheel, they drive along highways in wondrous machines at seventy miles an hour. With the flick of a switch, they light a room in the middle of darkness. With the touch of a button, they watch events taking place ten thousand miles away. With the touch of a few other buttons, they talk to other people across town or across the world. They even fly through the air at six hundred miles per hour, forty thousand feet up, watching movies and sipping martinis in air-conditioned comfort as they do so. In the United States, most people can have all this, and spacious homes or apartments, carpeted and fully furnished, with indoor plumbing, central heating, air conditioning, refrigerators, freezers, and gas or electric stoves, and also personal libraries of hundreds of books, compact disks, and DVDs; they can have all this, as well as long life and good health—as the result of working forty hours a week.

The achievement of this marvelous state of affairs has been made possible by the use of ever improved machinery and equipment, which has been the focal point of scientific and technological progress. The use of this ever improved machinery and equipment is what has enabled human beings to accomplish ever greater results with the application of less and less muscular exertion.

Now inseparably connected with the use of ever improved machinery and equipment has been the increasing use of man-made power, which is the distinguishing characteristic of industrial civilization and of the Industrial Revolution, which marked its beginning. To the relatively feeble muscles of draft animals and the still more feeble muscles of human beings, and to the relatively small amounts of useable power available from nature in the form of wind and falling water, industrial civilization has added man-made power. It did so first in the form of steam generated from the combustion of coal, and later in the form of internal combustion based on petroleum, and electric power based on the burning of any fossil fuel or on atomic energy.

This man-made power, and the energy released by its use, is an equally essential basis of all of the economic improvements achieved over the last two hundred years. It is what enables us to use the improved machines and equipment and is indispensable to our ability to produce the improved machines and equipment in the first place. Its application is what enables us human beings to accomplish with our arms and hands, in merely pushing the buttons and pulling the levers of machines, the amazing productive results we do accomplish. To the feeble powers of our arms and hands is added the enormously greater power released by energy in the form of steam, internal combustion, electricity, or radiation. In this way, energy use, the productivity of labor, and the standard of living are inseparably connected, with the two last entirely dependent on the first.

Thus, it is not surprising, for example, that the United States enjoys the world’s highest standard of living. This is a direct result of the fact that the United States has the world’s highest energy consumption per capita. The United States, more than any other country, is the country where intelligent human beings have arranged for motor-driven machinery to accomplish results for them. All further substantial increases in the productivity of labor and standard of living, both here in the United States and across the world, will be equally dependent on man-made power and the growing use of energy it makes possible. Our ability to accomplish more and more with the same limited muscular powers of our limbs will depend entirely on our ability to augment them further and further with the aid of still more such energy.*

A Free-Market Response to Global Warming

Even if global warming is a fact, the free citizens of an industrial civilization will have no great difficulty in coping with it—that is, of course, if their ability to use energy and to produce is not crippled by the environmental movement and by government controls otherwise inspired. The seeming difficulties of coping with global warming, or any other large-scale change, arise only when the problem is viewed from the perspective of government central planners.

It would be too great a problem for government bureaucrats to handle (as is the production even of an adequate supply of wheat or nails, as the experience of the whole socialist world has so eloquently shown). But it would certainly not be too great a problem for tens and hundreds of millions of free, thinking individuals living under capitalism to solve. It would be solved by means of each individual being free to decide how best to cope with the particular aspects of global warming that affected him.

Individuals would decide, on the basis of profit-and loss calculations, what changes they needed to make in their businesses and in their personal lives, in order best to adjust to the situation. They would decide where it was now relatively more desirable to own land, locate farms and businesses, and live and work, and where it was relatively less desirable, and what new comparative advantages each location had for the production of which goods. Factories, stores, and houses all need replacement sooner or later. In the face of a change in the relative desirability of different locations, the pattern of replacement would be different. Perhaps some replacements would have to be made sooner than otherwise. To be sure, some land values would fall and others would rise. Whatever happened individuals would respond in a way that minimized their losses and maximized their possible gains. The essential thing they would require is the freedom to serve their self-interests by buying land and moving their businesses to the areas rendered relatively more attractive, and the freedom to seek employment and buy or rent housing in those areas.

Given this freedom, the totality of the problem would be overcome. This is because, under capitalism, the actions of the individuals, and the thinking and planning behind those actions, are coordinated and harmonized by the price system (as many former central planners of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have come to learn). As a result, the problem would be solved in exactly the same way that tens and hundreds of millions of free individuals have solved greater problems than global warming, such as redesigning the economic system to deal with the replacement of the horse by the automobile, the settlement of the American West, and the release of the far greater part of the labor of the economic system from agriculture to industry.**

Emissions Caps Mean Impoverishment

The environmental movement does not value industrial civilization. It fears and hates it. It does not value human life, which it regards merely as one of earth’s “biota,” of no greater value than any other life form, such as spotted owls or snail darters. To it, the loss of industrial civilization is of no great consequence. It is a boon.

But to everyone else, it would be an immeasurable catastrophe: the end of further economic progress and the onset of economic retrogression, with no necessary stopping point. Today’s already widespread economic stagnation is the faintest harbinger of the conditions that would follow.

A regime of emissions caps means that all technological advances requiring an increase in the total consumption of man-made power would be impossible to implement. At the same time, any increase in population would mean a reduction in the amount of man-made power available per capita. (Greater production of atomic power, which produces no emissions of any kind, would be an exception. But it is opposed by the environmentalists even more fiercely than is additional power derived from fossil fuels.)

To gauge the consequences, simply imagine such caps having been imposed a generation or two ago. If that had happened, where would the power have come from to produce and operate all of the new and additional products we take for granted that have appeared over these years? Products such as color television sets and commercial jets, computers and cell phones, CDs and DVDs, lasers and MRIs, satellites and space ships? Indeed, the increase in population that has taken place over this period would have sharply reduced the standard of living, because the latter would have been forced to rest on the foundation of the much lower per capita man-made power of an earlier generation.

Now add to this the effects of successive reductions in the production of man-made power compelled by the imposition of progressively lower ceilings on greenhouse-gas emissions, ceilings as low as 75 or even 40 percent of today’s levels. (These ceilings have been advocated by Britain’s Stern Report and by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel, respectively.) Inasmuch as these ceilings would be global ceilings, any increase in greenhouse-gas emissions taking place in countries such as China and India would be possible only at the expense of even further reductions in the United States, whose energy consumption is the envy of the world.

All of the rising clamor for energy caps is an invitation to the American people to put themselves in chains. It is an attempt to lure them along a path thousands of times more deadly than any military misadventure, and one from which escape might be impossible.

Already, led by French President Jacques Chirac, forces are gathering to make non-compliance with emissions caps an international crime. According to an Associated Press report of February 5, 2007, “Forty-Five nations joined France in calling for a new environmental body to slow global warming and protect the planet, a body that potentially could have policing powers to punish violators.”

Given such developments, it is absolutely vital that the United States never enter into any international treaty in which it agrees to caps on greenhouse-gas emissions.

An Answer to the Hellfire-and-Brimstone Version of Global Warming

In previous centuries it was common for Religion to threaten those whose way of life was not to its satisfaction, with the prospect of hellfire and brimstone in the afterlife. Substitute for the afterlife, life on earth in centuries to come, and it is possible to see that environmentalism and the rest of the left are now doing essentially the same thing. They hate the American way of life because of its comfort and luxury. And to frighten people into abandoning it, they are threatening them with a global-warming version of hellfire and brimstone.

This is not yet so open and explicit as to be obvious to everyone. Nevertheless, it is clearly present. It is hinted at in allusions to the possibility of temperature increases beyond the UN report’s projected range of 3.5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, according to The New York Times, “the report says there is a more than a 1-in-10 chance of much greater warming, a risk that many experts say is far too high to ignore.”

Environmentalist threats of hellfire and brimstone can be expected to become more blatant and shrill if the movement’s present efforts to frighten the people of the United States into supporting its program appear to be insufficient. Hellfire and brimstone is the environmentalists’ ultimate threat.

Thus, let us assume that it were true that global warming might proceed to such an extent as to cause temperature and/or sea-level increases so great as to be simply intolerable or, indeed, literally to roast and boil the earth. Even so, it would still not follow that industrial civilization should be abandoned or in any way compromised. In that case, all that would be necessary is to seek out a different means of deliberately cooling the earth.

It should be realized that the environmentalists’ policy of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions is itself a policy of cooling the earth. But it is surely among the most stupid and self-destructive such policies as it is possible to imagine. What it claims is that if we destroy the energy base needed to produce and operate the construction equipment required to build strong, well-made, comfortable houses for hundreds of millions of people, we shall be safer from hurricanes and floods than if we retain and enlarge that energy base. It claims that if we destroy our capacity to produce and operate refrigerators and air conditioners, we shall be better protected from hot weather than if we retain and enlarge that capacity. It claims that if we destroy our capacity to produce and operate tractors and harvesters, to can and freeze food, to build and operate hospitals and produce medicines, we shall secure our food supply and our health better than if we retain and enlarge that capacity. This is the meaning of the claim that retaining this capacity will bring highly destructive global warming, while destroying it will avoid such global warming.***

There are rational ways of cooling the earth if that is what should actually be necessary, ways that would take advantage of the vast energy base of the modern world and of the still greater energy base that can be present in the future if it is not aborted by the kind of policies urged by the environmentalists.

Ironically, the core principle of one such method has been put forward by voices within the environmental movement itself, though not at all for this purpose. Years ago, back in the days of the Cold War, many environmentalists raised the specter of a “nuclear winter.” According to them, a large-scale atomic war could be expected to release so much particulate matter into the atmosphere as to block out sunlight and cause weather so severely cold that crops would not be able to grow.

Wikipedia, the encyclopedia of the internet, describes the mechanism as follows:

Large quantities of aerosol particles dispersed into the atmosphere would significantly reduce the amount of sunlight that reached the surface, and could potentially remain in the stratosphere for months or even years. The ash and dust would be carried by the midlatitude west-to-east winds, forming a uniform belt of particles encircling the northern hemisphere from 30° to 60° latitude (as the main targets of most nuclear war scenarios are located almost exclusively in these latitudes). The dust clouds would then block out much of the sun's light, causing surface temperatures to drop drastically.
Certainly, there is no case to be made for an atomic war. But there is a case for considering the possible detonation, on uninhabited land north of 70°, say, of a limited number of hydrogen bombs. The detonation of these bombs would operate in the same manner as described above, but the effect would be a belt of particles starting at a latitude of 70° instead of 30°. The presence of those particles would serve to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching most of the Arctic’s surface. The effect would be to maintain the frigid climate of the region and to prevent the further melting of its ice or, if necessary, to increase the amount of its ice. Moreover, the process could be conducted starting on a relatively small scale and proceeding slowly. This would permit the observation of essential empirical relationships and also allow the process to be stopped at any time before it went too far.

This is certainly something that should be seriously considered by anyone who is concerned with global warming and who also desires to preserve and enhance modern industrial civilization and retain its amenities. If there really is any possibility of global warming so great as to cause major disturbances, this kind of solution should be studied and perfected. Atomic testing should be resumed for the purpose of empirically testing its feasibility.

If there is any remnant of the left of an earlier era, which still respected science and technology, and championed industrial civilization, it might be expected to offer additional possible solutions for excessive global warming, probably solutions of a kind requiring grandiose construction projects. For example, one might expect to hear from it proposals for ringing North Africa and Australia with desalinization plants powered by atomic energy. The purpose would be to bring massive amounts of fresh water to the Sahara Desert and the deserts of Australia, with the further purpose of making possible the growth of billions of trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Another possibility would be an alternative proposal simply to pump an amount of sea water into confined areas in those deserts sufficient to provide an outlet for a growing volume of global seawater other than heavily inhabited coastal regions. (I would not be ready to endorse any such costly proposals, but they would be a vast improvement over the left’s only current proposal, which is simply the crippling of industrial civilization.)

Once people begin to put their minds to the problem, it is possible that a variety of effective and relatively low-cost solutions for global warming will be found. The two essential parameters of such a solution would be the recognition of the existence of possibly excessive global warming, on the one side, and unswerving loyalty to the value of the American standard of living and the American way of life, on the other. That is, more fundamentally, unswerving loyalty to the values of individual freedom, continuing economic progress, and the maintenance and further development of industrial civilization and its foundation of man-made power.

Global warming is not a threat. But environmentalism’s response to it is.

It claims to want to act in the name of avoiding the risk of alleged dreadful dangers lying decades and centuries in the future. But its means of avoiding those alleged dangers is to rush ahead today to cripple industrial civilization by means of crippling its essential foundation of man-made power. In so doing, it gives no consideration whatever to the risks of this. Nor does it give any consideration to any possible alternatives to this policy. It contents itself with offering to the public what is virtually merely the hope and prayer of the timely discovery of radically new alternative technologies to replace the ones it seeks to destroy. Such pie in the sky is a nothing but a lie, intended to prevent people from recognizing the plunge in their standard of living that will result if the environmentalists’ program is enacted.

If the economic progress of the last two hundred years or more is to continue, if its existing benefits are to be maintained, the people of the United States, and hopefully of the rest of the world as well, must turn their backs on environmentalism. They must recognize it for the profoundly destructive, misanthropic philosophy that it is.

They must solve any possible problem of global warming on the foundation of industrial civilization, not on a foundation of its ruins.

*The last five paragraphs, with slight adaptation, are an excerpt from pp. 77 and 78 of my book Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics.

**The last four paragraphs, with slight adaptation, are an excerpt from pp. 88 and 89 of Capitalism.

*** The examples in this paragraph are adapted from p. 88 of Capitalism.

This article is copyright © 2007, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site www.capitalism.net is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics.

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