“Climate Activism is a Religion” – Marian Tupy. H/T Raymond. Excerpted transcript below in italics with my bolds and added images.
“The planet is infected with us we’re all gonna die. Isn’t that all true and and correct?
It’s certainly not true and actually the history of the relationship between population growth and abundance of Natural Resources is much more complex than people realize. It’s very interesting to see how extreme environmentalism maps onto Christian theology. On the one hand you’ve got your Garden of Eden: that’s the world before industrialization. You have your Devils: fossil fuel CEOs and people like that. You have your Saints, Greta Thunberg. Your Priesthood is the IPCC scientists. And of course you even have indulgences like back in the days before Reformation. Where you are allowed to fly around the world on a private jet, so long as you give a few thousand pounds or dollars to a green cause. All those sins are simply washed away. And one of the fundamental features of any religion is apocalypse, the end of days.
What we are saying is that if the world is going to end. it will certainly not end because we will run out of Natural Resources. The British energy problems are not an outcome of physical limits on fossil fuels or energy that can be produced in the world. They are an outcome of stupid decisions made by your politicians for the last 20 years.
Our guest today is the editor of humanprogress.org, a senior fellow at the center for Global liberty and prosperity, whose latest book is called super abundance the story of population growth Innovation and human flourishing on an infinitely Bountiful Planet. Marian Tupy, welcome to triggeronometry. Please tell everybody who you are and what brings you to be sitting here talking to us
It starts with my birth in Czechoslovakia socialist republic. When I was a child my parents moved to South Africa. Later I went to Great Britain and studied at Saint Andrews University. I’ve been in Washington DC at the Cato Institute which is a Libertarian think tank for the last 20 years. And as you mentioned I run a website called viewingprogress.org which is basically just a website trying to document and promote the notion that the world is improving along many different dimensions of human well-being. That led me to writing a book about population and Innovation and natural resources.
Well speaking of all of that Marian, the the self-evident truth that everyone’s been completely persuaded about for the last God knows how many years is the planets overpopulated, humans are the virus infecting the planet. We’re all gonna die, and as we die we’re gonna make everything terrible. Marion why is it that so many people think that overpopulation is a real danger for our planet and the future of the human race?
I think it’s because the notion of finitude of atoms which is absolutely true. It is common sense and intuitive to say: If you have the finite quantity of atoms but you are increasing the people using those atoms then at some point you must run out. But this ignores a very fundamental difference between human beings and other animals. We are animals who are capable of planning forward and we are animals capable of innovating out of our problems through human knowledge. So American Economist Thomas Sowell has a famous quote:
An example is iPhone, a great way of dematerializing our the world. In other words we are saving a lot of atoms that we don’t have to put into television sets, into cameras, into Maps, into campuses, into calculators and all those other things. Instead we put it on this device. I hope it goes some way into explaining why the number of atoms in the world is actually not a limiting factor for how much of value we can create.
I think that if we are looking at the source of discomfort and a sense of dejection about the future, it may come from the fact that in Britain you cannot build that many houses. Or rather you refuse to build that many houses because of governmental policy. I’m not bashing Britain I’ve spent five years in your beautiful country and I love it and we have the same problem in the United States. it’s not that all of these people living in the cities are concerned about overpopulation, just that they’ve decided that you’re not going to build in my backyard.
It’s policy driven rather than driven by some sort of fundamental physical lack of space.
People still need a search for the transcendental; they still need to commit their lives to a meaning, to some sort of a heroic vision of themselves. What is it that they are trying to accomplish with their lives aside from going to work? And I think that many people especially in secular societies have embraced Extreme Environmentalism as a substitute for religion. um it’s very interesting to see how extreme environmentalism maps onto Christian theology. So I think that there are religious overtones to environmentalism. And the number of apocalyptic movies has been growing every decade since the 1950s, even though the world has improved along very many different dimensions: we live longer, we live healthier lives, we are much richer, poverty is collapsing around the world.
But with every decade the number of apocalyptic movies is actually increasing with one exception and it was 1990s because of the peaceful resolution of the Cold War.
Whatever your view on fossil fuels, whether or not you believe that emitting ever more CO2 in the atmosphere is a problem, clearly the timeline and the plan that our politicians have invented is completely unrealistic. We are not paying a price for there being too little oil or gas or uranium in the world. We are paying a penalty for politicians forcing us into energy consumption patterns which were completely unrealistic. The book tells you that there is plenty to be used for hundreds of thousands of years. We are never going to run out of these energy sources or natural resources, but yes as a society we could certainly decide not to use them and simply to shut off the lights and close the door on Western Civilization. That choice is not going to be forced on us by physical limits of the planet.
I think there is a reasonable chance that we have seen Peak apocalyptic environmentalism, for two reasons. One is that half of the world, the underdeveloped or developing world is never going to buy into our nonsense. We just have to stop thinking that and don’t even pretend that people in India and China and Bangladesh and Africa, which are still very poor are simply going to start using windmills. It’s just not going to happen for decades, if ever. They would have to be at a completely different level of Economic Development to start playing around with wind farms and whatever. So they’re going to be reliant on oil and natural gas for a long long way to come. And even that is better than using biofuels in order to power their own societies.
So that’s one half of the population; the second half are the advanced economies like yours and our economies, which are by and large democratic. And I do not believe that with any level of brainwashing coming from Whitehall or from Greta or people who glued themselves to roads or whatever. I don’t think any level of that kind of propaganda and brainwashing will make the good people in the United Kingdom to decide that this is the future they’re going have. In other words democracy is going to win. And if it’s not going to be the Tory party which changes the green policies and the green New Deal or Net Zero, or it’s going to be somebody else. And the sooner the British political establishment awakes to the fact that the British people are suffering and their living standards are collapsing, the less likely it is that you will have a really nasty party emerging that will do it for them.
I have a concern about the democracies we still have here in the West. If our center right and center left simply refuses to acknowledge that by government design lives of our people are getting worse, somebody else is going to fill that void, and that is something I want to avoid.
The reason why the public in this country and in yours holds the politicians in utter contempt is precisely because they see the level of hypocrisy that is going on in in both societies. You see them constantly raising taxes on air travel but they themselves fly around on private jets or first class which is much more carbon intensive. You see them telling you to drive you know little EVs while they enjoy being driven around in SUVs as big as a house. You see them telling you that the world is going to be swallowed up by by the oceans while at the same time they’re buying beachfront properties.
They basically think that we are so stupid and they think that can they can basically freak us out to an extent where where any kind of policy can be can be implemented. And to that extent I was actually impressed with some of the work done in the UK by the former head of your Supreme Court Jonathan Sumption, who was deeply concerned about the kind of public reaction to covid; you know, you end up with a Chinese virus but also with a Chinese Society. If people can be freaked out enough that the world is going to implode, they would be willing to part with their civil liberties and their basic freedoms.
On the other hand all of these apocalyptic predictions have been wrong in the past. And if you again put a date on it, you say that we only have five or ten years left on the planet left, when that time expires we will be wondering why we should be believing these people. What sort of credibility do they have? Do they also realize just how extraordinarily damaging it it to our institutions? How are we supposed to believe the leadership in our societies when they get these calls wrong time and time again.
They complain about populism when they are the causes of populism because
they keep on saying things which are obviously not true.
In this book we looked at 18 different data sets with some of them going back to 1850, and we looked at hundreds of Commodities: Goods, finished goods, Services, food, fuel etc. We found that for every one percent increase in population we had one percent decrease in the price of all of these Goods, services and commodities. That tells us that human beings on average are more producers than they are consumers; that we are really able to produce more wealth than we consume, otherwise you would see the opposite: With every one percent increase in population you would see an increase in prices with greater scarcity. But that is not the fact.
We are very divided in Western countries and so while remaining optimistic: How do we manage some of the trade-offs of these technological developments? Because it seems to me in social communication, cultural programs and entertainment and particularly social media are areas where everyone knows there’s a big problem but no one quite knows what to do about it.
Any technology developed by the human brain can be can be used for good and evil. A baseball bat can be used to hit a baseball and it can be used to to bash you to death, not to mention guns and um anything else, knives and on. So what you do with your Technologies also matters. I think that any new technology from gramophones to bicycles was first met with a wall of negativism. Once it was thought writing of novels was supposed to lead to mental collapse throughout the Western World. Television, radio, all of these things were considered to be potentially world-ending events, but that didn’t happen
When it comes to social media, I don’t like them and I don’t partake. I left Facebook in 2012 when I realized that it was making me unhappy. Because what I was putting up on Facebook was a curated picture of my life, and what I was consuming was a curated picture of my life. So basically I was posting lies in consuming lies, and once I realized that I left Facebook. That was a choice, a choice which can be made independently by any number of all 8 billion people
I think that what we are going through right now is a period of adjustment to a new technology but that period of adjustment will resolve itself. You know it took us 50 years to figure out that drinking and driving was not a good idea. Now it’s sort of been internalized into us that cars are much better operated when you are sober, but it took time to to to to to square the human brain with this new technology. That will probably happen with social media as well or at least I hope that people are going to realize that much of it is simply unreal, what is making them unhappy, and they could be spending their time doing better things than than being on social media. We’ll probably figure it out in the way that we have figured it out with novels and bicycles and radio and television.
I’m basically a follower of the Enlightenment. I aspire to the ideals of the Enlightenment and one of the main features of the Enlightenment was freedom of speech. We are not putting enough emphasis on the way that freedom of speech is being destroyed by our governments, by the media, by cancel culture. Freedom of speech is not only necessary in order to produce new inventions and Innovations but also to produce new ideas. In this country we need a lot of reforms because the country is not functioning very well. Things won’t improve if ideas that I propose are canceled just because they seem too outrageous. In the same way in the United Kingdom, you need to undertake a lot of reforms and what if somebody tells you that your proposal for, let’s say, NHS reform is somehow unspeakable.
We need to preserve freedom of speech, it’s absolutely fundamental and we should be talking more about people getting canceled for joking uh for expressing wrong ideas and also for having peculiar forms of behavior. and that’s important because as we discuss in our book a lot of people on whom we rely for some of the most important Innovations and inventions in the world are also very peculiar people.
I’m rationally optimistic about the future just just to just to clarify that. So long as we don’t have a massive war caused by politicians, so long as we’re able to innovate without a precautionary principle, so long as we are able to freely speak and publish and research. And so long as we have the free markets which can tell us which inventions and Innovations are valuable and which inventions and Innovations are not valuable.
via Science Matters
October 22, 2022 at 03:03PM