Eco-Economics Quackery


Daniel Ben-Ami's essay "The Dismal Quackery of Eco-Economics" at the invaluable spikedonline website is, as the Brits might say, "spot on."

Some highlights below:

There are two recurring themes running through the environmentalist approach to economics. First, an obsession with the need for limits. The environmentalist debate, in numerous different ways, assumes that strict limits must be put on economic activity. Such premises ignore or at least downplay the power of human creativity. Economic activity does indeed often throw up problems—such as pollution—but it also, it will be argued, provides the means to overcome them.

Second, the idea of precaution has more recently become more central to the debate. The prevalent assumption is that people need to be cautious about economic development because it could have harmful unintended consequences in the future. Often such fears are expressed in the language of 'sustainability'. The precautionary approach, unlike earlier forms of environmentalism, acknowledges the power of human creativity. But advocates of precaution tend to see such creativity as a source of problems, usually in the form of risk, rather than a positive attribute of human beings.

Underlying both assumptions is a misanthropic view of humanity. Environmentalism can be seen as a counterattack against a key premise of the Enlightenment: that a central part of progress consists of increasing human control over nature. Instead, environmentalists argue that humans should accept their place as a mere subsidiary of the natural world. In practice this means reconciling humanity to poverty, disease and natural disasters.

Whole thing here.

And in an exercise in shameless self-promotion, for my take on the failures of neo-Malthusianism see my essay, "The Law of Increasing Returns."