Discover more from Green Leap Forward
Here We Go Again
Another Ivory Tower Malthusian Take
The issue of one’s primary moral goal is a crucial one in philosophy that we are almost never taught to think about, yet it shapes our evaluations to an almost unimaginable degree.
Alex Epstein in Fossil Future (p. 75)
Yee haw! More wisdom from Scientism American!
Naomi Oreskes, to little surprise on our end, is not amused over the birth of the 8 billionth person on earth, which happened a few months ago according to an estimate from the United Nations.
“We ought to have a plan for slowing the destructive surge in human population. In fact, many people defend it,” she barks.
She takes issue with a Washington Post Editoral in particular, “The world’s population is 8 billion and rising. That’s probably a good thing.”
Not only does the Editorial piece bluntly add a positive value judgement to the event, but it does acknowledge the growing population’s impact on the natural environment which with more man-made development and infrastructure accelerates climate change. She leaves this important context out as well as leaving out their paragraphs dedicated to debunking the claims of Malthusianiam.
She instead asserts the Editoral Board are repeating a concept known as Cornucopiansim which she says developed in the 1980s largely by Julian Simon1 and Herman Kahn.
She then frames the Simon and Kahns’s postion as one that, “argued that anxiety over limited natural resources is misguided because human ingenuity can overcome any limits. Let populations grow alongside markets operating under minimal government constraints, and people will invent solutions to whatever problems they face.”
Cornucopianism existed long before the 1980s - something you’d think a historian of the science of climate change would point out, but it doens’t appear it’s truth she’s searching for here.
She then sort of steelmans the position saying but asserts that Cornucopianism ignores the role that government played in many of these innovations. Without government, she states, “From the canals and railroads of the 19th century to the interstate highways and Internet of the 20th, most large-scale technological achievements have relied, at least in part, on government initiatives and support. Big gains in health and life expectancy stemmed from state investments in scientific research and public health. In the early 21st century the price of renewable solar energy fell dramatically, largely because of state-funded research and policies to help ensure demand.”
The irony that a Fiat Academic, whose life revolves around chasing taxpayer-funded grants via the government is not goint to bite that hand that feeds. The defense in particular of solar energy’s drop in price in the 21st century ignores the market-distorting fiat subsidies, the misleading LCOE scheme, and the human rights issues with solar.
It’s hard to be surprised that someone who co-authored the recently released book, “The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loath Government and Love the Free Market,” would rush to defend governments over all else - especially free markets.
The marketing material on Amazon is as follows:
In their bestselling book Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway revealed the origins of climate change denial. Now, they unfold the truth about another disastrous dogma: the “magic of the marketplace.”
In the early 20th century, business elites, trade associations, wealthy powerbrokers, and media allies set out to build a new American orthodoxy: down with “big government” and up with unfettered markets. With startling archival evidence, Oreskes and Conway document campaigns to rewrite textbooks, combat unions, and defend child labor. They detail the ploys that turned hardline economists Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman into household names; recount the libertarian roots of the Little House on the Prairie books; and tune into the General Electric-sponsored TV show that beamed free-market doctrine to millions and launched Ronald Reagan's political career.
By the 1970s, this propaganda was succeeding. Free market ideology would define the next half-century across Republican and Democratic administrations, giving us a housing crisis, the opioid scourge, climate destruction, and a baleful response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Only by understanding this history can we imagine a future where markets will serve, not stifle, democracy.
Blaming markets and worshipping government is not uncommon among the climate crisis hysterics. Noble Prophet Greta Thrunburg’s worldview relies on it too. As does Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.
Hilariously, Oreskes concedes that the 20th century saw a period in human flourishing via healthy growth, she refutes not only that statement but also of the warnings scientists have been saying about climate change since the 1950s. She mentions famines, pandemics, and wars but apparently cannot figure out what the primary cause of those events were. (spoiler alert: governments). She even admits, “technological progress has not stopped the unfolding climate crisis,” which punches quite the hole in her government-can-do-everything fallacy.
Perhaps she’d see eye to eye with Murray Rothbard’s book “Science, Technology, and Government?” where he argued that governments impose too many barriers on science and technology research that are better solved in free markets.
Nah. Rothbard was a white male anyways.
She of course brings up that trope towards the end of the piece when she disucsses the controversy behind population control programs. She, likely and upper class elite2 asserts these programs were largely led by rich3 white men. She also correctly notes that previus attempts to curb population growth were largely carried out around racist, sexist, and class lines. She's of course too arrogant to see that her worldview is simply a continuation of that of thinking.
We wonder, just what is Oreskes’ primary moral goal?
Simon, was infamous for writing his 1981 book, The Ultimate Resource which was a critisicm of the anti-human eugenicist Malthusian dogma put forth by Paul Erlich in his book The Population Bomb. Erlich’s book was released in 1968, just prior to the surge in the enviromentalist movement and became a major intellectual influence within that movement sparking in part the anti-nuclear energy subset of that movement as well. Simon is also known for the famous bet he made with Erlich. Spoiler alert: Erlich lost.
Oreskes when she was a Professor at the University of California San Diego took a salary of about $286,000 in today’s dollars. Harvard salaries are private but the median is $122,000 . This site doesn’t cite a source but states her net worth is over $1 million. Oreskes also makes money selling her various books and charges between $10-$20 thousand dollars per speech