The Political Economy of Environmentalism

“People, like any creature with no natural predator, will continue to spread beyond the capacity of their environment.”

Should I live to 80, the global population will have increased fourfold in my lifetime, more than double the population when the Club of Rome called for zero growth in 1972. For the average non environmental scientist, it is easier to divide the environment into the original Greek elements: fire, water, earth and air. Fires are currently raging, considered (unscientifically) as evidence of “global warming,” modified to “climate change” when the planet started cooling. Land use is also a serious global problem as the run-off into rivers and oceans is unbounded.

People respond to visual cues: when the Cuyahoga River burned in downtown Cleveland for weeks, America cleaned up its rivers. When scientists vividly described a hole in the ozone layer, consumers replaced chlorofluorocarbons in cars and refrigerators in 1987 as part of the Montreal Protocol.

Unlike the Cuyahoga River fire, environmentalism today is rather like the US debt, another intergenerational transfer that also reflects human nature. Current sacrifices can potentially reduce the projected magnitude of sacrifices forced upon future generations, but some economists argue based on UN income forecasts that future generations will be so wealthy that the high costs we would bear today will be relatively painless in the future, the environmental equivalent of “growing out of the debt problem.”

Economists Thomas Carlyle and Thomas Malthus first introduced the dismal idea that mankind would outgrow and eventually destroy the earth’s environment several centuries ago. Harvard economics professor Robert Solow argued that productivity improvements could more than offset environmental degradation, leading to Paul Romer’s theory that there were no natural limits to human expansion.

But that didn’t fool mother nature. The Stockholm Resilience Center breaks down today’s environmental challenges into nine planetary boundaries that when crossed are irreversible. As many scientists believe at least four of these boundaries have already been crossed, they have declared the end of the 12-millenium post ice age Holocene Epoch so favorable to human development. We are now in the unknown Anthropocene Epoch, “the age of man.”

The point of their framework is to help prioritize environmental threats and responses. Climate Change is right in the middle of the pack. The thousands of professional scientists currently engaged in environmental research have provided a sufficiently robust diagnosis and basis for developing promising technical solutions. Economists are still in the early stages of cost/benefit analysis of the alternatives.

The Climate Change Crisis

The STERN REVIEW: The Economics of Climate Change provides greenhouse-gas emissions in 2000 by source and technical plans to reduce or eliminate them. About half are energy emissions: Power (24%) Transport (14%) Buildings (8%) Industry (14%) Other energy related (5%). Non energy emissions are Waste (3%) Agriculture (14%) Land use (18%) Energy emissions are mostly CO2 (some non-CO2 in industry and other energy related). Non-energy emissions are CO2 (land use) and non-CO2 (agriculture and waste).

Economists blame environmental degradation on the failure of the market to price carbon emissions, but it is worth noting that had politicians not sown unfounded fear in the wake of the Three Mile Island and subsequent nuclear disasters there would not be a looming climate catastrophe today.

In his Nobel acceptance speech, economist Willian Nordhaus provides an economic model for evaluating technical solutions to get the “biggest bang for the buck.” Economist Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus offers suggestions for a total of $2.5 trillion environmental expenses with $15 returned for every public dollar invested, a 1500% return on investment (ROI).

Stanford’s Mark Jacobson also provides a complete analysis of the Climate Change problems and a blueprint of solutions, concluding that replacing all carbon based energy plants as they reach the end of their useful lives with Wind, Water and Solar (WWS) globally will keep the rise in climate temperatures within an appropriate limit (scientists debate the range between 1% and 3%) excluding any nuclear contribution due to the long implementation time, almost 20 years for today’s 1950s technology.

Earth and Water: Physical Limits Apply

Mechanized agriculture may have postponed Malthus’s day of reckoning, but it did not prove him wrong. Technology has mitigated the population’s excessive demands on land somewhat, but the supply is constrained. Most of the environmental threats to the earth and water are the direct effects of industrial agriculture, e.g., chemical additives and CO2 release, or indirect effects such as deforestation to create more arable land.

Total current global consumption is unsustainable with existing technologies and US citizens consume five times the global average. Reforestation of agricultural land (and arguably turning private forests into national parks and limiting cutting to, e.g., thinning as part of fire management) is needed to meet CO2 targets. There are numerous agricultural productivity improvements on the horizon. But even if sustainable farming can achieve the same yields as industrial agriculture, replacing chemicals with much more expensive labor, it is hard to see how the earth will sustainably support rising living standards, much less the doubling of output projected by 2050 for an ever increasing population living ever longer lives.

The Political Economy of Nation States

Historically, a primary role of nation states was to provide food and energy security for their citizens, often at the expense of other states. Four things are required of US politicians to save the planet: First, prepare the public for the necessary sacrifices; second, avoid conflicting goals and counter-productive measures; third, prioritize the problems and design workable cost-effective solutions; fourth, provide the global leadership necessary to implement and enforce global environmental policies, particularly carbon pricing, to eliminate free riders. They have failed across the board.

Necessary Sacrifices

Science can never provide the certainty that the scope of environmental solutions warrants, but faith in science has been undermined by its political bedfellows. To generate greater public support, the public was convinced that the sky is falling (the sky will eventually fall, only after humans are long since extinct on this planet.) Some scientists who quickly aligned with politicians undermined the public’s faith in their diagnosis, which is inherently speculative, and recommendations, which often ignore economics.

Technology will respond, but for at least the next three decades the price of energy and energy intensive goods will be higher and today’s shortages will become common here as they still are in many places. Housing will be less affordable as land and lumber supply shrinks to expand forests and space for WWS. Food prices will be significantly higher as industrial methods are reduced or phased out.

Conflicting Goals and Counterproductive Policies

Politicians have sold climate change as generating jobs while pursuing social and economic justice. Under current proposals, jobs will be created in China and lost in the US as has happened for over three decades.

US per capita income is 25 times that of India. Indian energy is much more carbon intensive than the US (with a massive open funeral pyre for most of the dead). Renewable energy in India is an alternative to bring about parity, but India’s population density is twelve times that of the US, limiting land availability for WWS. But because Americans use much more total energy, Indians demand the US cut carbon energy use in the name of social justice. America’s social justice warriors may agree to cut US living standards by 80%, but the benefits aren’t likely to accrue where needed most. It doesn’t seem likely that two such different nations at such different stages of development would agree to the terms of carbon pricing and subsidies.

It makes no sense to subsidize the demand for energy, housing and food while restricting the supply. It makes no sense to allow tens of thousands of immigrants to cross the US border for a better life while demanding austerity from the citizenry. It makes no sense to require corn ethanol be used in cars when people are starving and rain forests are being leveled to farm more corn. It makes no sense to heavily subsidize luxury electric cars for people making over $140,000 a year fueled predominantly with coal and natural gas.

A Rational Cost-effective Plan

Politicians prefer to pick the winners, e.g. Solyndra and losers, e.g., existing nuclear plants. Bill Gates pointed out that shutting down these plants before the end of their useful life, as is being done in Germany and Japan after the Fukushima disaster and is being done across the United States, particularly California, is stupid. Bang for the buck and ROI are political slogans rather than mathematical requirements for political accountability. I have yet to see the proposed ROI for the $100 trillion Green New Deal.

There is no plan on the horizon that would meet the Paris Accord goals with WWS in the US or globally. It’s too early for bureaucrats and politicians to pick winners, but the US should double down on research, development and implementation for the new nuclear technologies such as the natrium reactor used by TerraPower founded by Gates and the fusion technologies. China and India are already in the nuclear club, mitigating weapons proliferation concerns. Moreover, unlike WWS which are physically limited, fusion energy is unlimited. Preferential financing for new energy infrastructure could be made available globally through the World Bank.

There is much the US can do within its shores and international sea boundaries. In addition, there are already numerous ad hoc global initiatives to save the oceans, from the whales to the coral. Their very limited hard earned success so far isn’t encouraging, but there is no good alternative. Similarly, attempts to reform agriculture since Stalin’s days have proven politically problematic, but the USDA, which has had ambassadors globally preaching and teaching industrial agriculture since it was founded, could do the same for sustainable agriculture.

Global Leadership

Politicians can simply eliminate carbon by regulation or law, but totalitarian governments destroy their environments and such command and control (c&c) approaches haven’t worked much better in democracies. The so-called “market oriented” economic solution for carbon pricing is conceptually easy, imposing the appropriate price through cap and trade (when some firms can improve energy efficiency) or cap and tax (to reduce production until alternative clean energy comes on board) – not perfect but better than c&c. Nordhaus recommended a voluntary club to impose a uniform system globally and enforce it to eliminate free riders.

As with cap and trade, the concept is relatively straightforward. The CCC’s primary role would be to set and enforce the one true price of carbon universally. The same member price would be imposed on non-members through tariffs. Members with a big carbon footprint would subsidize those with a small carbon footprint. Members who subsidized their own labor and capitalist cronies should pay a penalty surcharge.

The Montreal Protocol succeeded where the Paris Accords, lacking teeth to prevent free riders, failed. The stakes are much higher because the potential consequences of universal carbon pricing are huge: Had Europe and the US imposed the true price of carbon, including transport costs, on China 35 years ago when it joined GATT, the WTO predecessor, would it have evolved into an export powerhouse at the expense of traditional producers, pulling hundreds of millions out of poverty in China while hollowing out the US working class? A large share of trade under the TPP is arguable due to underpricing carbon as well.

The UN is currently the only global political body, but the US would not delegate such powers to it. A CCC would need the independence of the IMF to enforce draconian penalties. But the US hasn’t shown leadership on carbon pricing and has recently fallen from its WWII zenith to its post Afghanistan nadir. The industrialized nations would never grant it the required enforcement powers to eliminate free riders.

The Way Forward

Politicians prioritized climate change over scientifically higher priorities for water and earth, presumably because as a “crisis” it provides unlimited opportunities for crony spending with little accountability for achieving an objective beyond their political horizon. But without a mandatory international system, the climate change agenda is on life support. Germany has now tied its future to Russian carbon, and the rest of Europe might follow. The US should do no more than what’s in its own direct interest on climate change: the cost of a quixotic effort to single handedly save the planet is unlimited and the net benefit small. Fusion research and development offers an expected payoff to US research funding orders of magnitude greater than WWS.

In truth, wars, pestilence, pandemics and purges may have done more than industrial agriculture to postpone Malthus’s day of reckoning. The current mainstream view is that China saved its trade surplus to build a navy to control the seas and the Biden Administration expects war. As the US is already swimming in debt, the US can pursue one, or – assuming it is uncharacteristically efficient – at most two of the following priorities: national defense, rational domestic environmental policies and/or domestic socialism.

War has always been an ecological disaster. Perhaps the ecological future of the US lies with biological warfare (which both China and the US are currently working on) and the neutron bomb?

Kevin Villani

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Kevin Villani, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985, has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with ten universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the subprime lending bubble and aftermath.

27 thoughts on “The Political Economy of Environmentalism”

  1. “…consumers replaced chlorofluorocarbons in cars and refrigerators…”

    False. Consumers had nothing whatever to say about the replacement of chlorofluorocarbons. The replacement was decreed by governments.

  2. People support environmentalism because they perceive the costs to be essentially zero. We’re about to find out how they react when that’s not the case.

  3. Interesting that the UK is now experiencing immediate food supply issues because of a lack of — [Drum Roll] — that evil carbon dioxide. The CO2 is required in slaughterhouses as part of calming the chickens & pigs before they are slaughtered, and in food packaging to preserve fresh food.

    The UK will face future food supply issues because the missing CO2 is a by-product of fertilizer manufacturing, which is restricted by the low supply/high price of natural gas. Less fertilizer now means less food in the future.

    Perhaps Villani wrote his piece tongue in cheek? Any reasonable analysis shows that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (to give “climate change” its real name) is unscientific hoo-haa. Any reasonable analysis shows that we could give the entire world a First World standard of living if we had enough energy — and we have the technology today to supply that energy through existing nuclear fission technology. But our “leaders” refuse to follow science and common sense. The leaders of Russia and China seem to be playing a different game — with interesting implications for the future.

  4. Confidence in the conclusions of Climate Science is not increased by the level of heretic-hunting that goes on in that field. See for example the statement of Judith Curry, formerly of Georgia Tech, in explaining her reasons for leaving academia:

    A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc.

    How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide.

    https://reason.com/2017/01/04/georgia-tech-climatologist-judith-curry/

    Dr Curry’s blog is here:

    https://judithcurry.com/

    …and another useful blog on climate and on energy in general is this one:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com

    Also, I find terms such as ‘climate denier’ to be highly offensive. This terminology is obviously intended to mirror ‘Holocaust denial’, and conflates a historical event, confirmed by contemporary documents, photographs, and millions of witnesses, with a forecasted future trend based on highly complex mathematical modeling.

  5. This is the sort of wit that only an intellectual could find amusing: “ Perhaps the ecological future of the US lies with biological warfare (which both China and the US are currently working on) and the neutron bomb?”

  6. Any reasonable analysis shows that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (to give “climate change” its real name) is unscientific hoo-haa.

    Yes, I also wonder if this post is “tongue in check.” As someone pointed out this week, “97% of scientists agree with whoever is funding them.”

  7. “Climate Science” ceased to have any connection with science decades ago and should have been declared officially dead the first time a “researcher”, in this context, more honestly a data fabricator and fabulist, denied access to data to anyone.

    The newest fads in “green” fuels are ammonia and hydrogen. Both are produced FROM natural gas at no little cost in energy.

    Water vapor is by orders of magnitude the most important greenhouse gas and primary means of energy transfer through the atmosphere. Present “models” are unable to approximate it to even the nearest trillion tons.

    China will reach its peak population sometime mid-decade. The rest of the world in around 30 years. Malthus will forever be another of those theories that have never been properly tried. From the personal experience of several potato harvests brought to an expensively premature end by freezing weather, I find it unlikely that slightly warmer temperatures are going to harm more than they help.

  8. David,
    I notice that the article seems to omit any actual quantification of the effect. A quick search showed only further regurgitations of the same press release and the paper in Nature will cost $8.99. I’ll pass. If the actual number was more than an inch or two, you can be sure there’d be no mystery.

  9. The question really is, how much do you trust these assholes?

    I don’t, because I think they’re all lying their asses off. It’s like with the way the Soviets constantly fudged their census records, and claimed statistics that made no sense about things which were verifiably unlikely. As far back as the 1960s, Robert Heinlein noticed that the infrastructure around and in Moscow did not support Soviet contentions about the size of that city’s population–Something that the CIA and everyone else agreed with, because if they didn’t, then they’d have their budgets cut because the Soviets weren’t the threat they said they were… The whole thing was a pack of lies.

    After the wall came down, the truth came out: Heinlein was more correct about things than the CIA and the Soviets were.

    The issue that we need to worry about, as usual, is the one nobody is noticing or talking about: Depopulation. Look at the fertility rates, and know fear, because you ain’t coming back from that one, folks. Not once those German chicks with the 1.17 birth rate age out of the motherhood zone…

    I’m pretty sure that nothing remotely akin to what is going on in “successful” industrialized societies today has happened before. There’s going to be a tipping point, and once we’re over the damn thing, it’s gonna be a hard, harsh ride to the bottom. Mostly because these Malthusian doom-pronouncers have been so successfully persuasive to all and sundry–Even the Chinese Communists bought into their bullshit.

    End of the day, the Earth will endure. Whether or not we’ll be around to endure with it? Not such a certain thing; I’ve often wondered if sentient intelligence is actually a survival trait, and I think we’re on the cusp of finding out that it really isn’t.

    Every environmentalist I know is a Karen, under the skin–They want to tell everyone what to do, how to do it, and be in charge. This factor alone leaves me suspicious of their ideology and intent, along with their rather disturbing amount of self-hatred. You look at the way they think, and all you can do is wonder at the self-loathing nature of it, which is of a piece with most of the radical BLM types, who’re white as the driven snow. There is a definite pattern to the mental illness on display, and it is an illness. These people are mostly dysfunctional and hate everyone else who isn’t…

  10. I wander my mountains still. I can tell you the very best of places, are those that people very seldom visit. One reason I still do this.

  11. “China will reach its peak population sometime mid-decade. The rest of the world in around 30 years. Malthus will forever be another of those theories that have never been properly tried. From the personal experience of several potato harvests brought to an expensively premature end by freezing weather, I find it unlikely that slightly warmer temperatures are going to harm more than they help.”

    “The issue that we need to worry about, as usual, is the one nobody is noticing or talking about: Depopulation. Look at the fertility rates, and know fear, because you ain’t coming back from that one, folks. Not once those German chicks with the 1.17 birth rate age out of the motherhood zone…”

    No surprise, the Chinese are leading the way. Their population will almost assuredly peak this decade, and then probably start a serious slide, with their population expected to be roughly half its peak by mid century, 30 years from now. They are getting a double whammy here, part from the move from farms to cities as they join the middle class, and partly from their ill designed One Child policy, which not only cut the number in the next generation, but also significantly skewed the sex ratio there, resulting in many more males than females – the sex that has to expend the most resources to have and raise children. Still, as noted, this isn’t just a Chines problem – it’s just going to hit them the worst.

    But with a crashing world wide population, many, if not most, of the environmental horrible that are paraded before us to justify destroying our economy disappear. For example, the claims that we won’t be able to feed everyone disappears with the high likelihood that the global population is very likely to be significantly lower by mid century, and not higher.

  12. Predicting the future is pretty easy.

    The “Green Economy ” will crash everything. Another good reason to live in Arizona.

    There are many small reasons for the global energy squeeze, and one big one: Investment in hydrocarbons has collapsed under pressure from the Green agenda adopted by international consensus.

    Energy investment in the United States has dwindled as large institutional investors boycott fossil fuel investments. China’s critical electricity shortage is the result of draconian regulation of coal mining, exacerbated by Beijing’s punitive ban on Australian coal imports.

    I didn’t know about the Chinese ban on coal imports from Australia.

  13. Is depopulation really going to be a problem? Much might be said on both sides.

    Back before Fauci when the planet had real pandemics, the Black Death resulted in a massive drop in population. Some historians have argued that (once the dead had been buried & mourned) this was a net positive for the human race. Peasants got a better deal, boys met girls, the population recovered, and the human race moved forwards into the Renaissance.

    There is also the difference between current fertility rates and population sizes. Most of the West has population-declining sub-2.1 children per female — but total populations continue to explode because of immigration. The phenomenon may be not so much depopulation as population replacement, although that may not be a net positive for civilization.

    And there are groups who are continuing to do their part in the progeny sphere — Africans and Mormons, for example. This could be a strong net positive once the planet gets enough African Mormons — respectful community with much better music.

  14. IIRC, Arthur C. Clarke put the ‘ideal’ human population of the planet at 200,000,000 (two hundred million–or did he propose less?)

    We could shed a few billion easily, and to the benefit of the remainder.

  15. It’s all uncharted territory, unknown to anyone.

    The reason for the population decline is basically socialism. Why have children to take care of you in your old age, when you can offload that concern onto the government? Why form a solid family unit, when you can use the government to extort resources from those who do? Why raise children to pay your retirement benefits, when you can rely on someone else to do that for you?

    Only, what happens when everyone makes those calculations, and gets the same result?

    Socialism is a huge trap. It destroys ambition, purpose, and locks everyone into a game where there are no winners, only losers. Every single socialist or socialist-like civilization has collapsed under its own weight. Look at the Inca, as an example–Even if the Spaniards hadn’t come in to kick in the doors, the whole thing was as moribund and static as you could possibly imagine, with no growth, no innovation, no change–Just waiting for the first Black Swan event to come along, which turned out to be named Pizarro.

    The other thing about socialism is that it attracts outsiders to the benefits, like flies to honey. Europe is undergoing that process as we speak, as we are. The difference is, of course, that the Europeans are so thoroughly married to their benefits packages that they’ll never give them up. And, that’s going to be what kills them, because all those lovely uncivilized non-Europeans are going to swarm them and drag them down. You’re not replacing the cultural tradition of fine European craftsmanship that enables their economies with some former tribal warrior brought in and given a few years of hopeful cultural conditioning, which ain’t likely to take. Systemic collapse looms when enough of the productive citizenry are replaced by useless mouths.

    We’re not too far behind them, but the odds are we’ll discard the stupidity when the time comes. That’s one thing we have–We don’t follow the tradition into the grave, the way the Euros are conditioned to. We’ll likely change, and then you’ll see outright pogroms against the parasites, likely led by the far more common-sensical Mexican emigres. They’re already beginning to see the outcome of further Democratic policies, and changing their minds about it all.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that once you’re past the first generation of less-than-replacement-rate fertility, and you have a horde of migrants coming in, you’re beyond hope. Europe is going to be working its productives to death in the coming years, doing even more damage to their fertility rates, which are driven by high taxes and a lack of opportunity to get good jobs and form families in the first damn place. Nobody watches these things, or cares about them, but when you’ve got entire generations of kids who don’t leave home until their thirties, who keep playing in prolonged adolescence because they have no real options…? Do you think they’re ever going to just snap out of it, right before they age out of their reproductive years?

    I think that years to come will show that socialism is like one of those wasp traps–You follow the lures in, and then the fact is, you can’t get out, and you’re doomed to die of starvation while you remain trapped inside. Everyone thinks it’s a great thing, ‘cos “they’ll be taken care of”, but the root problem with that is that once you enable the whole thing, there’s no incentive to provide for yourself, and the collective effect on that is the classic problem described in the tragedy of the commons–If everyone is responsible for something, then nobody is, and nobody is going to do a damn thing about the maintenance or the hard parts of it all. And, when coupled with the active set of disincentives that socialism brings in, with regards to those lovely ideas about job security and all of the rest of the package the unions like to vote in…? Guess what? You wind up like the Italians, where the kids can’t leave home, and can’t get jobs, and wind up spending most of their lives in a state of prolonged childhood while mommy and daddy provide for them, which they have to do, ‘cos that’s the way they like it. You don’t get self-actuated adults out of socialist societies–You get mostly immature children who can’t do a damn thing besides suck up resources and bleat about “social justice”.

  16. “The reason for the population decline is basically socialism. Why have children to take care of you in your old age, when you can offload that concern onto the government? Why form a solid family unit, when you can use the government to extort resources from those who do? Why raise children to pay your retirement benefits, when you can rely on someone else to do that for you?”
    People aren’t only motivated by economic concerns. Although many are, in the modern world. Which is a major part of why for 200+ years the “left” has made a major project out of abolishing religion–you obliterate God and Government is all that is left…

  17. Claire Berlinski, in her book Menace in Europe, discussed the reasons for the low European fertility rate. Among other things, she cites a letter she received from an Israeli (immigrant from the United States) who is the father of 8 children:

    People who live in civilizations with a strong sense of history are more likely to want to have more kids. If you are encouraged to think of your culture as something important within the flow of human history, something that is handed from one generation to the next, then you will feel a debt to the past and an obligation to the future…Conversely, societies that discourage reverence for the past, that discourage loyalty in general, will almost automatically undermine any kind of vision for the future…The result: People are more likely to have fewer kids.

    I reviewed the whole book here:

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/44959.html

  18. This comment by Death 6 in David’s review of Berlinski is as good a hypothesis as any for the worldwide phenomenon of declining fertility. It is not merely the widespread decline of belief in God; it is perhaps mainly the worldwide increase in personal productivity, which increases the opportunity cost of having children. It is even conceivable that the decline of traditional religious belief, and the apparent rise of alternative religions that substitute charismatic demagogues, the State, or nature, for God, are themselves effects of increased personal productivity.

  19. Yeah socialism is just so wrong. Those Chinese monsters and the Euro trash are bound to fail, while I’m sure America will prosper mightily. ;)

  20. I appreciate all the comments. I’ve argued for skepticism of the science generally and regarding climate change in prior posts. As an economist, I provide citations that argue the costs aren’t as high as environmentalists argue. But in the end, I argue to stop funding the climate change agenda in favor of nuclear fusion research even for believers.
    On population growth, the baseline estimate I accepted is much lower than the past. My point was that the technological solutions to population growth are the source of environmental problems.

  21. Kevin V.: “My point was that the technological solutions to population growth are the source of environmental problems.”

    That may be too much of a blanket statement. For example, meeting the needs for reliable 24/7 electrical power through the known technology of nuclear fission would improve the environment by eliminating those bird-killing wind turbines and those land-hogging solar panels along with coal mines. It is a hoary truism that solving one problem creates another — but problems can be opportunities too!

    “nuclear fusion research” — Come on! Back in the 1950s, the Brits built ZETA, the Zero Energy Thermonuclear Apparatus to provide fusion power. It achieved its aim — zero energy was produced. And fusion has continued to recede further & further into the future. Lefties like the distant dream world of fusion as an excuse to avoid implementing today the proven solution of nuclear fission. Ah! But fission creates nuclear waste!, they say. But why is nuclear waste a problem? Because it is emitting energy. Nuclear waste is a problem only because we have made it a problem, instead of rationally using that spent fuel to provide even more energy.

    And lets not ignore the reality that, even if global population stopped growing, we would still face the need to provide more energy to the several billion human beings who today live sad lives circumscribed by energy poverty. How long are we going to allow selfish Lefties to keep those people (mostly People of Color, to use the Lefties language) in poverty instead of rationally expanding nuclear fission power?

  22. This is a very illuminating article. It illustrates the thought processes of the people we oppose. It also drips with condescension for anyone that dares to disagree with the Visons of the Anointed.

    People like this want to run the planet and I’d rather see (unlikely) mass extinction than put them in charge!

  23. Kirk @ October 3, 2021 at 11:50 pm:
    The reason for the population decline is basically socialism.

    White fertility in the US declined by 62% between 1800 and 1930. Black fertility declined by 49% from 1850 to 1930. How could socialism cause this?

    The countries with the greatest drops in fertility between 1995 and 2010 were Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Algeria, Nepal, and Cambodia (all over 50%). Which of these countries were or became socialist in this period?

    As of 2021, the countries with the lowest birth rates (under 10 per year per 1000) include Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, none of which are socialist.

    Fertility decline is deep, wide, and long. The cause of it is not simple.

  24. @Rich Rostrum,

    You’re absolutely right that there are a lot of causes for the decline in fertility–One thing that’s behind it all is the increase in the availability of birth control, the rising tide of childhood survivability, and the increasing cost of raising kids. Along with the fact that you no longer need to have 12 kids to help you run the farm and feed everyone, down where we still do subsistence agriculture.

    Increasing urbanization also plays a role–You do not need all those kids in the first place, they’re expensive, and they’re more difficult to raise in an urban environment, in some ways.

    All that militates towards lower birth rates, and we’d probably settle somewhere around replacement rate, if that’s all that was doing it. Where socialism comes in as a society-killer, over the long haul, is that it takes over all the resources that individuals would normally devote towards their kids, and redirects them elsewhere in society. Look at Europe for an example–The tax rates and lack of opportunity driven by all that socialist “fairness” discourages family formation, the younger generations getting jobs at all, and disturbingly long adolescent periods where the kids can’t do much besides leach off mom and dad, waiting for them to age out of their jobs so they can have them.

    It’s opportunity cost, on a society-wide scale. The resources that would normally be going into family formation are simply taken up by the state, redirected, and because of that, the families ain’t forming. So, no kids coming from the sort of stable people you want having kids in the first place–The only ones having ’em are the socially dysfunctional, because the responsible, rational types are putting it off.

    Idiocracy wasn’t wrong–The observations encapsulated in it are real, and troubling.

    I’d also suggest that if you think that Singapore and all the other states you mention as “not being socialist” actually aren’t, you and I have a very different view of what socialism is. My use of the term is when you tax the living crap out of the productive to subsidize the social benefits for the slackers, which all those countries do–Including, increasingly, the US.

    Here’s a tip: When you socialize things like taking care of the elderly, giving everyone a tax-supported old age pension? What you’re actually doing is creating a huge disincentive for having kids, because you’re at one and the same time robbing resources from people in their most productive years to pay for those pensions, you’re also telling them that the number-one incentive we used to have for having kids, namely making sure you’d have someone around to take care of you in your declining years…? That’s now the government’s problem, which is to say, all of society. Which is eventually going to reach a point where all those pension benefits simply ain’t sustainable, especially in a pay-as-you-go system like here in the US.

    It’s a fairly obvious thing when you look at it, and ask “Why…?”. You have to be honest enough with yourself to recognize it, though, because nobody wants to admit that they’re free-riding on other people’s efforts, and when you factor in who actually pays for all this crap, all the people who’ve gone essentially childless are going to eventually wake up and discover that their neighbor’s kids aren’t really interested in sacrificing for them.

    In a rural or tribal society, you’d see that pretty clearly. In a modern industrial one? It’s not so easy, and that’s the damn trap you walk into with socialist policies–It all looks well and good on the outside, at the beginning, but two or three generations in? Nobody’s having kids, because it’s too damn expensive, and the kids aren’t having kids because they’re still living with mom and dad into their thirties. The expenses show up in all sorts of ways–Women who do motherhood later have more health problems, the kids are less healthy, and the whole thing is more expensive.

    Everyone looks at socialism as this great idea, but I think it’s a huge swindle between generations. You put the policies into place, and the generation that does it benefits hugely, but the succeeding ones have more and more work to do to sustain it, and they get less and less out of it, until the whole thing collapses under the weight of the intergenerational IOUs. That’s the process going on in Europe, right now, and a lot of other industrialized nations like Japan. There’s no opportunity for the young, because of the crippling taxes taking resources out of the system, and because of the fact that the system promises to “take care of people”, nobody feels responsible for making sure that there are enough people around in the next generation to be able to afford that. It’s the tragedy of the communal bathroom–Everyone looks at cleaning the place up as “someone else’s problem”, and nothing ever gets done about the attritive messes that get made, or the mold and mildew growing up in the showers. Then, there’s the fact that anything communal gets trashed, anyway–You want to see a major reason I loathe socialism, try managing a group living situation where there are facilities that are communal. It becomes a herculean effort, just to keep treading water because nobody wants to expend effort to maintain stuff that other people are using. Take the same group, move them to a facility where there are no communal facilities, and everything is individually owned and managed? Far different deal; they have their own bathrooms, they clean them.

    Your mileage may vary with that, depending on the percentage of saints in your population, but my experience has been that the general run of humanity won’t do squat to either worry about or maintain communal anything. It’s all someone else’s problem.

    Which goes a long way towards explaining the below replacement fertility rates in modern societies. There are a lot of factors going into it all, as you say, but the biggie? The socialization of old age care, and the excessive tax burden on the young. When the only people who can afford to have kids are the feckless dysfunctional types on social benefits…? Don’t be really surprised when things break down around you. The wholesome normies you rely on to keep things going didn’t get born in the first place, ‘cos mom and dad were too busy being responsible tax payers who weren’t worried about having kids because the almighty state would take care of them and provide for them in their dotage…

    There’s a finite limit on the fraud. You can’t keep a Ponzi scheme running forever, and I think we’re beginning to hit the limits with this.

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