Sorry ‘bout the failure to fail – it ain’t happening. Expectations for the demise of humanity are greatly exaggerated. The destruction of Mother Gaia has yet to be brought about through mankind’s abusive exploitation. Despite our every attempt to exterminate homo sapiens as a species, we remain.
Why this constant failure to fail? Where have all the scary monsters gone – there is only so much room under the bed!
The human population has stabilized across much of the planet: Europe, Asia, the Americas (exception, USA). Only northern Africa and the Middle East continue to grow significantly. While predictions are a cult unto themselves, the global human population may cease to expand within a generation. Its growth rate has declined precipitously. The general statement (much overused) of a married couple with 2.1 children being the ‘point of perfect replication’ is becoming the norm. The figures for Japan, Europe and Russia are well below this: 1.4 – 1.8, while China is at 2.0. As people die, fewer are being replaced by newborns. Simplistic, yes, but valid.
Natural resources have yet to approach the point of exhaustion – far from it. We extract more from our Earth than ever while discovering more. Pricing mechanisms – supply and demand and efficiencies of design and use – turn the tide away from exhaustion to excess. Crude oil production is at 88M bbls/day and the price has collapsed as new supplies acquired at lower cost flood the market. Re-cycling has reduced demand for a myriad of basic materials. Better automotive technology means we drive more miles, exhaust less as ownership costs decline.
The horrors of biotech – epitomized by GMO – are really our very best friends. ‘Food is more abundant today than ever before in history’, according to Ronald Bailey, author of The End of Doom. Global food production has more than tripled over the past 50 years, while the population has simply doubled. The newest edition of efficient food production is far more significant. It allows the introduction of Vitamin A to remove rickets from the global population, along with childhood blindness. GMO rice and grains use far less fertilizer and water with a concomitant increase in acreage productivity.
The Green Revolution of Norm Borlaug exemplifies these trends. Biotech enabled by more efficient exploitation of natural resources has allowed humanity to grow – and do so more peacefully and healthier and wealthier.
The Big Bad Wolf – whose name constantly changes from global cooling to global warming to climate change – is nowhere to be found. 24 years of steady to slightly declining global temperatures since the last great volcanism, Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, are directly associated with a 30% increase in atmospheric CO2. Where’s the beef? ‘Climatologists’ look under the ocean and under the bed, to no avail. The science is settled: it is not science but religion.
Oddly enough, as food and health availability improve, education and human rights often follow suit. A wealth increase from starvation ($2/day) to subsistence ($4/day) makes a huge difference. Augment this with improved agricultural tools, power sourcing and basic medicine for pre-natal, infant and women’s health. Education becomes affordable and desirable. Stable home and house encourage savings. This can lead to inexpensive communications tools – cell phones -that empower farmers and merchants. Movement from the rural to the urban world ensues, as does closer ties and communication between citizens. This can lead to nascent capitalism (it can just as easily lead to nepotism in its thousand forms). Environmental awareness, known as conservation, becomes an acceptable norm as wealth grows. Family size is reduced, initially because fewer surviving workers are required; ultimately because young couples begin to factor in the cost of children to their world views.
Fear is the only selling point for the pessimists. Facts simply refuse to support their way of life. Facts are dangerous because they tell the truth. Fear is far more dangerous because it manipulates the truth.
Each time you read or hear of a ‘well founded’ fear, ask yourself, ‘what are they not saying when they say this?’ Recall Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. His clue was the silent watchdog.
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
A World of Wealth by Thomas Donlan
Its Getting Better All the Time by Julian Simon
The End of Doom by Ronald Bailey