Monday, March 23, 2009

Where's Jonathan Swift When We Need HIm?

Remember Swift? He penned the "Modest Proposal," in which he satirically suggested that the way to deal with Irish poverty and overpopulation was to have the Irish sell their babies as meat for rich English customers. Trust me, you probably read it in high school.

Anyway, I'm waiting for the day when an environmentalist suggests a similar "solution" to deal with the impact of the world's poorer countries on global warming, ooooopppsss, climate change because they are already suggesting the best way for them to address global warming is to stay poor and be unemployed, and now not have the right to buy cars and get wealthy.

Now setting aside for a moment the fact that who the hell are we to tell another country that it can't produce and sell a car, has anyone of these enviro-reporters or activists actually stopped to think for a minute what wealth and progress mean for the environment? They all seem predisposed towards an idyllic vision of poverty in which "native peoples" "at one with the land" "only use what they need."

The problem with all of these preconceived notions about the world is that they are deeply political, as Matt Ridley correctly notes in this article. Folks in the environmental movement claim that progress has done more damage to the environment than subsistence living and native practices. The problem is that the fossil record doesn't bear it out.

And more bluntly, neither does any trip to the developing world. If you want to see trash thrown from buses and people destroying forests, go to Brazil, or Guatemala, or Kenya. If you want to see people picking up trash, planting trees, or worrying about cleaner air and water, go to the richer parts of Western Europe or America where wealthy people have the time to pursue those policy goals.

So while I have no doubt that Tata's new Nano will increase carbon emissions in the short run, I have little doubt that in 20 years a richer India will do much more to preserve the environment, not to mention that thousands, possibly millions of lives that will be saved and enriched if we let them grow economically.

Unless the real green agenda is an anti-human one - in which case I suggest the environmentalists sell their babies as meat to prevent environmental degradation, not the Indians.

No comments:

Post a Comment