29 September 2010

Would the World End if We Became More Optimistic?

We are living in an apocalyptic age. We have been living in the apocalyptic age for many decades -- even centuries and more. Humans are strangely attracted to the apocalyptic mindset. Perhaps the doomer mentality is an intentional but subconscious talisman, meant to protect against genuine doom. But what would happen if the media, academia, politicians, big environmental lobbies, NGOs, and the rest of the doom industry were to take a break every now and then? At least on topics such as carbon hysteria, peak oil doom, overpopulation apocalypse, and the other faux dooms that line so many pocketbooks?
Indur M. Goklany has taken a look at the state of the world, and has come to the conclusion that, overall, things are improving.
**Key points from the book** * The rates at which hunger and malnutrition have been decreasing in India since 1950 and in China since 1961 are striking. By 2002 China’s food supply had gone up 80%, and India’s increased by 50%.

Overall, these types of increases in the food supply have reduced chronic undernourishment in developing countries from 37 to 17%, despite an overall 83% growth in their populations. * Economic freedom has increased in 102 of the 113 countries for which data is available for both 1990 and 2000. * Disability in the older population of such developed countries as the U.S., Canada, France, are in decline. In the U.S. for example, the disability rate dropped 1.3 % each year between 1982 and 1994 for persons aged 65 and over. * Between 1970 and the early 2000s, the global illiteracy rated dropped from 46 to 18 percent. * Much of the improvements in the United States for the air and water quality indicators preceded the enactment of stringent national environmental laws as the Clean Air Act of 1970, Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. * Between 1897-1902 and 1992-1994, the U.S. retail prices of flour, bacon and potatoes relative to per capita income, dropped by 92, 85, and 82 percent respectively. And, the real global price of food commodities has declined 75% since 1950. _WUWT

Matt Ridley's recent book, The Rational Optimist, dares to contradict most of the modern "dooms du jour" of modern media, academia, faux environmentalism, and popular culture.
Julian Simon was the ultimate optimist, and his most famous book -- Ultimate Resource II -- is available to read free online.
Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist, was far too optimistic for the taste of faux environmentalists and the corrupt scientific : faux environmental industrial complex. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the popular and mythical dooms favoured by the media, academia, and politicians, Lomborg calmly and rationally looked at the real problems of the environment -- and finds them soluble.
Stewart Brand is the grand old man of 60s environmentalism, whose basic wisdom and honesty have led him to reject the doomerism of the faux environmentalists and the modern media. Brand has not escaped the dogmas of faux environmentalism entirely -- he lives in the San Francisco bay area -- but he promotes nuclear energy and other scientific and technological solutions to the problems that do exist.

Full disclosure: Genuine dooms exist. The Earth has suffered through several extinction episodes where life was nearly wiped out -- and perhaps events where life actually was wiped out and had to re-start from scratch.

But we need to focus on the real problems which need solutions, and do it in a systematic and dispassionate manner.

Doomers, with their constant full-volume blare of apocalypse, do not deserve to monopolize our time.

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Blogger yamahaeleven said...

All great books, time to reread some of them. Another recent book I recommend is "Ferraris for All" by Daniel Ben-Ami, which kind of sums up Goklany and Simon.

Wednesday, 29 September, 2010  
Blogger kurt9 said...

Go live in the so-called "third-world", especially Asia, and you will clearly see that things are improving over the long run.

This doomsday stuff is mostly a Euro-American thing and, I think, it is an outgrowth of the Romantic movement. The romantic movement itself was an emotional backlash against the reason and rationality of the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Despite the corruption and cultural inertia of the developing world, most of the economic growth over the next 30 years will occur there. The reason is that these regions still have lots of young people and they are very hungry to improve their life situation, unlike the lazy, confortable people in the West (and part of East Asia).

Wednesday, 29 September, 2010  
Blogger gtg723y said...

Kurt9: You are absolutely right, this leftist die-off started in the romantic period. Some of the most subversive were the Transcendentalists of the 1840's through the 1860's. The worst of which are Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. But they get their roots from the likes of Byron, Keats, Tennyson, and Wordsworth. All of which are required reading in high school, but not the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Federalist Papers, why study the literature of the founders?

Wednesday, 29 September, 2010  
Blogger Max said...

From pure efficiency stand point -why would you want to waste more resources on 90% of population which does not produce anything but waste and copies of itself? Regardless of the consequences to the environment (faux or not) it does not make a good policy

Thursday, 30 September, 2010  
Blogger gtg723y said...

Max: I understand your frustration, there are people around the world that have had fish given to them for so long that not only have they forgotten how to fish, their arm has lost the strength to cast, and their tackle is rusted shut. Is that portion 90%? I don't think so, but I have only been around the U.S. Australia, and Japan. Not to be insulting but where are your from? I am curious to know if this may have to do with your 90% of people have no value at all. I would also like to know how you would like to make these people bevcome useful and productive.

Friday, 01 October, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Yama11: Thanks for the suggestion of Ferraris for All. Looks great.

Kurt: Yes, but be careful. If a society lacks the distributed brainpower to run and maintain a high tech infrastructure, it will fall apart under its own weight of corruption.

Max: Careful. It is possible that some people would look at you and consider you a waste of resources. Once we start down that revolutionary road, we will not stop until we have eaten all of our own.

gtg: We need to understand that in order for us to move forward, we will need to put most of our time and resources into it. A lot of people in low-IQ high-procreation parts of the world will necessarily have to find their own level -- like water -- without our help.

Those who survive the inevitable tumults that are coming will need to grow thick skins and develop an intensity of focus which may seem unnatural to modern popular culture.

Sunday, 03 October, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Speaking of a low-IQ, high-procreation society "finding its own level" without the help of more advanced cultures: Any low-IQ nation that is sitting on an ocean of oil & gas, or a mountain of diamonds, uranium, gold, copper, or other valuable minerals -- will probably end up getting more help from the developed world than it wants.

The way that China is "helping" many African nations may be the most realistic approach in such circumstances. China is paying whatever bribes must be distributed, and giving lip service to "lifting up the people."

In the meantime the choice jobs, positions, and contracts go to other Chinese companies and citizens. Because past a certain point, the vast majority of sub-Saharan Africans cannot be pushed.

Please do not misunderstand this posting. It is only saying that doom is not a necessary universal end point for humans as a species. But doom is quite likely for low IQ, quickly reproducing societies that cannot sustain themselves without outside help.

Sunday, 03 October, 2010  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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