Environmentalism

Is Capitalism Environmentally Unsustainable?

The goal must be to find ways for liberty and the environment to flourish together, not to sacrifice one in the vain hope of protecting the other.

|

Human activity is remaking the face of the Earth: transforming and polluting the landscape, warming the atmosphere and oceans, and causing species to go extinct. The orthodox view among ecologists is that human liberty—more specifically economic activity and free markets—is to blame. For example, the prominent biologist-activists Paul and Anne Ehrlich of Stanford University recently argued in a British science journal that the environmental problems we face are driven by "overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens' aggregate consumption." The Ehrlichs urge the "reduction of the worship of 'free' markets that infests the discipline" of economics.

But the notion that economic activity and free markets are antithetical to the flourishing of the natural world is complicated by the fact that the countries with the biggest environmental problems today, and the least means and apparent interest in addressing them, are not the liberalized ones with advanced capitalist economies but the ones with weak or nonexistent democracies and still-developing economies.

So is it really the case that liberty and the environment are simply opposed? Does the good of one come only at the expense of the other? Or can liberty and a flourishing natural environment reinforce one another, the good of one encouraging the good of the other? Can economic activity under a system of liberty be environmentally sustainable in the long run? …

Many of these academics—though not all—acknowledge that market economies on the whole have greatly improved the lot of humanity over the past few centuries, leading to better standards of living, higher levels of education, and more civil and political rights. But they argue that the system of liberty produces accumulating externalities that will eventually drive civilization to self-destruction. Either human beings start restructuring civilization soon, the Ehrlichs warn, or "nature will restructure civilization for us."

The Lockean response to these academics' worries is that free-market capitalism is as much about growing inward as outward—about learning to derive progressively more value from a finite supply of natural resources, so that we need not consume ever more of those resources. On this understanding, there need be no contradiction between meeting human material needs and preserving a large portion of the natural environment.

So we have two broad views of the sustainability of the system of liberty, and they could hardly be more opposed: one of steady growth and self-reinforcing gains in the efficient use of natural resources, and one in which this growth may be maintained for a deceptively bountiful period of human history before it collapses in on itself. …

We can now begin to see the shape of an answer to our initial question of whether liberty and the natural environment must necessarily be opposed. In early stages of modern economic development, as liberty is unleashed in open-access orders, people convert relatively plentiful but unproductive nature into more productive but relatively scarcer human labor—that is, higher population—and manufactured capital. In those early stages, liberty and the environment function as what economists call "substitute goods," with more liberty resulting in less demand for the environment in its natural state. In such societies, fertility rates remain high and environmental amenities and quality continue to deteriorate. But at later stages of economic development, human and manufactured capital become so effective, thanks especially to technological progress, that the environment can be returned to a more natural state. And since such societies are more prosperous, they can better afford the costs of environmental regulations, even inefficient ones. …

Free markets are the most robust mechanism ever devised by humanity for delivering rapid feedback on how decisions turn out. Profits and losses discipline people to learn quickly from and fix their mistakes. By contrast, top-down bureaucratization tends to stall innovation and to make it more difficult for people and societies to adapt rapidly to changing conditions, economic and ecological. Centrally planned economies fail; centrally planning the world's ecology will fail as well. Our aim must be to find ways for liberty and the environment to flourish together, not to sacrifice one in the vain hope of protecting the other.

Go to The New Atlantis to read the full article: "Liberty and the Environment."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

208 responses to “Is Capitalism Environmentally Unsustainable?

  1. “For example, the prominent biologist-activists Paul and Anne Ehrlich”

    Yeah, we need to base policy on the claims of a guy who has yet to be right about, oh, where the sun appears to rise.

    1. Yeah, I saw that phrase and thought “no need to read further”.

      1. If you didn’t read further then you missed the part where Bailey pointed out that Ehrlich is wrong. The entire rest of the article promotes an approach that Ehrlich would not approve of.

        1. Ehrilch? I didn’t get past where Ron claims that human beings are “warming the atmosphere and oceans” or was that also attributed to someone else?

        2. some guy|10.31.14 @ 3:44PM|#
          “If you didn’t read further then you missed the part where Bailey pointed out that Ehrlich is wrong.”

          I read the article, and certainly agree with Bailey on most all of it.
          I was simply pointing out that he’s shooting fish in a barrel; any 6th grade kid who hasn’t been propagandized can do so.

    2. I thought that charlatan was shamed as far back as the 1980s.

      Furthermore, what kind of dishonest hack would claim that the economics profession “worships” free markets? I seem to recall such prominent economists as Paul Krugman and Cass Sunstein ritually admonishing the concept.

      1. Erlich is immune to shame.

        And like communist ‘true believers’, his supporters will make endless excuses for his incorrect predictions and proclaim that his next prediction will be proved right.

        They are the Millerites of our time.

        1. Look, with The Right People In Charge, his predictions would come true. At least, the part about people dying left and right would.

      2. I had a high school environmental science textbook in 2000-2001 that featured a point-counterpoint with Julian Simon and Paul Erlich that gave Erlich the last word and went out of its way to demonize Simon’s point of view.

        I don’t think I’d even discovered libertarianism at the time, and I remember thinking “Erlich is completely full of shit. That vampire economist with heartburn guy who’s supposed to be wrong is making all the good points.”

        I can credit a LOT of stuff in the textbooks that I had that year with making me take libertarianism seriously. None of it intentional on the textbook writers’ parts, needless to say.

        1. Simon won the bet. Ehrlich’s side was proven wrong. A side condition should have been for the loser to commit Seppuku.

        2. funny, I had an econ textbook around that time that used their bet (which Julian Simon won) as an example of why the luddites are always wrong

    3. I hate to be the one to have to break it to the author, but capitalism is the only hope for a sustainable environment. The USSR and China had(ve) abysmal records with respect to preserving reasonable environmental conditions. Moreover, poor countries regularly rape their countryside–for some reason they prefer survival to unpolluted air and water, and pristine forests.

      Environmentalists are just would-be tyrants. Their economic system of choice imploded catastrophically in the 1980’s and they all switched tactics–but not goals.

      1. “PD Quig|10.31.14 @ 2:55PM|#

        I hate to be the one to have to break it to the author,”

        Did you actually read all the way to the last paragraph of Ron’s article, or are you talking to his headline?

        1. A few people here don’t seem to understand that in order to shoot down a bad idea you have to at least write down what that idea is first. Otherwise your article is going to be confusing and pointless. Extra credit for naming a few people who propose that idea (so everyone knows you aren’t bashing a straw man).

      2. A clean environment is a luxury good, that can be afforded only by relatively prosperous countries.

        1. This. And which system creates the most prosperity?

    4. I stopped reading when I read this. Ehrlich is the wrongest man in the galaxy.

  2. Is Capitalism Environmentally Unsustainable?

    No.

    Next question?

    Paul and Anne Ehrlich of Stanford University recently argued […] the environmental problems we face are driven by “overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens’ aggregate consumption.”

    You should know that people who posit such arguments are either knaves or fools. How do you define “overpopulation”? The word itself is heavily loaded with illogical assumptions. If we’re all here, then how can there be overpopulation?

    The other concept (“overconsumption”) reflects the unfamiliarity these people have with basic economic concepts. You can’t overconsume something. You simply can’t. That idea goes against the Law of Diminishing returns which is UNBREAKABLE. The notion rests in the assumption that all things we find on the earth are free to get, which is ridiculous – it is the same as assuming that we humans (all 7 billion of us) are thieves!

    1. it is the same as assuming that we humans (all 7 billion of us) are thieves!

      Yes, that is exactly the assumption. We’re stealing from the nature. Nature should be left in a pristine state. I remember my father pointing to a forested hillside, remarking on how beautiful it was, and then noting how evil capitalists see it as a place to put a housing development. They want to ruin it all because they’re greedy and evil. Nature is supposed to be remain untouched.

      1. I remember my father pointing to a forested hillside, remarking on how beautiful it was, and then noting how evil capitalists see it as a place to put a housing development.

        I suppose he later drove by a homeless man and lamented the lack of affordable housing.

        1. Nah, but he would likely say that the guy is homeless because the rich aren’t taxed enough.

      2. You should posit a scenario to your father. Tell him he’s being gifted that land because it turns out an unknown relative died and left it to him. He owns it now. And there’s a developer who wants to build on it and will offer him ten million dollars for it. Ask him: does he sell? Or hold on to the land and not sell to keep it pristine?

        And then watch him fucking squirm or blatantly lie.

        1. I don’t talk politics or economics with the guy. If I do then we’ll get into an argument, and he won’t answer the phone for a year. He and Tony would get along great.

          1. Plot twist Tony is your father.

            1. I immediately envisioned sarcasm wailing

              NOooooooooooo!

              1. That’s not true! That’s impossible!

            2. That would be both a miracle and a farce.

        2. Hell, it can be simpler than that. “If development is bad and unspoiled nature is good, what about the place where you live? Is that bad development too? Should that have never been developed?” And people say that libertarians are the ones who want to pull the ladder up behind them…

      3. The strawman police strikes again.

        Of course capitalism can despoil the environment and cause more harm than good. Anyone who believes otherwise is a blind dogmatist. No institution is pure and good entirely. Especially not capitalism. Everything must be checked. If you believe in something that is without error you are a common religionist.

        1. “If you believe in something that is without error you are a common religionist.”

          Yeah, asshole, you beat on that strawman!

        2. Oh, look. The village idiot stopped by.

          People who understand and support free markets (that excludes you) understand that the reason free markets prosper and government control does not, is because when market actors screw up, they lose. That loss causes them to change their behavior. As opposed to when government screws up, it doubles down and screws up even harder.

          1. The Soviet Union was Gaia incarnate.

          2. What prevents trusts, externalities, and other failures of the market to produce optimal outcomes? Yeah, your faith in the magical ability of supply and demand to solve everything is what I’m talking about.

            1. If all property is privately held and a free market is permitted to exist, there are no externalities because all the consequences of your actions impact other private actors who can sue you for damages.

              How is a “trust” a market failure?

              1. How the shit do you allocate the atmosphere or oceans to private owners?

                1. How the shit do you allocate the atmosphere or oceans to private owners?

                  One possibility for the atmosphere is to say that you own the air over your property up to some usable altitude. If someone dumps measurable pollution into your air then you can sue them for all 3 cents in damages.

                  The oceans are easy, especially now, what with those newfangled GPS receivers. You act like no one owns rivers lakes or ponds already…

            2. Tony:

              What prevents trusts, externalities, and other failures of the market to produce optimal outcomes?

              I think it’s funny when socialists whine that “nothing’s perfect”, and then start bashing markets because they may produce suboptimal outcomes. Because, clearly, we can’t tolerate anything suboptimal. But, nothing’s perfect.

              I think nirvana fallacies are right up there with magical thinking.

              1. Markets can not only produce suboptimal outcomes but disastrous ones–and by experience we know these can be mitigated. Your politics insists that we apply laissez-faire policies that are proven not to work as well as others. If you’re dismissing evidence in favor of a swell idea, you’re being dogmatic.

                1. Tony:

                  Markets can not only produce suboptimal outcomes but disastrous ones–and by experience we know these can be mitigated.

                  You could exchange “Markets” with “governments” and the same applies.

                  Your politics insists that we will magically inject just enough government, leaving just enough personal freedom, to obtain optimal happiness. Because we can see how great that’s going so far.

            3. Re: Tony,

              What prevents trusts, externalities, and other failures of the market to produce optimal outcomes?

              The subject of economics is where you show your mettle as a totally incompetent buffoon, Tony.

              There is NO such thing as “Market Failure”. That’s a bullshit assumption from Neo-classical economists when looking at their bullshit equilibrium models based on another bullshit assumption which is Perfect Competition.

              Saying “market failure” carries the exact same intellectual weight as saying “evolution failure.” You can’t have failure in systems that are non-linear and chaotic; that assumes an expected outcome – with humans, or nature itself. See the point?

              You can’t even tell me what a trust has to do with market failure. You’re adding things together that have no relation.

              1. Saying “market failure” carries the exact same intellectual weight as saying “evolution failure.”

                I’m going to steal that, Old Mex, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

              2. What you’re saying OM is that you believe that whatever the market produces is definitionally always the best thing for people. This, even theoretically, leads to outcomes such as half the population starving to death is the best outcome. It’s just plain silly. Your analogy is nonsense. The market is not a natural phenomenon. It is nothing if not the thing that exists once rules for trade are set.

                1. Re: Tony,

                  What you’re saying OM is that you believe that whatever the market produces is definitionally always the best thing for people.

                  Markets don’t produce things. We’re off to a bad start when you can’t even have your concepts straight.

                  Only PEOPLE produce things. A Market is the system generated by the billions of interactions (trades) between individuals. And yes, all outcomes will be optimal as long as there are no external hindrances.

                  This, even theoretically, leads to outcomes such as half the population starving to death is the best outcome.

                  Ok, you’re an idiot. Or you think I am one.

                  Half the population of CHINA starved under Mao. Where was the Market there? Go fuck yourself, Tony. You aren’t even trying to be serious.

              3. Re: Tony,

                Markets can not only produce suboptimal outcomes

                What’s a sub-optimal outcome? For that matter, what is an optimal outcome? Again, you’re assuming an expected outcome from a chaotic, non-linear system.

                Please, don’t tell me an optimal outcome is where there’s one single product sold by an infinite number of sellers to an infinite number of buyers with perfect and instantaneous information, because you will arrive at the point where nobody will be wrong to think you’re a crackpot.

                1. To be fair, Old Mex, if God ran our economy through central planning, he could certainly do better than the free market. Maybe Tony isn’t an atheist after all…

                2. Tony doesn’t understand “non-linear” and he especially doesn’t understand “chaotic”, so there you have at least one point of divergence when trying to make a point with this idiot.

              4. Nice post Mex.

            4. Tony|10.31.14 @ 3:48PM|#
              …”Yeah, your faith in the magical ability of supply and demand to solve everything is what I’m talking about.”

              It’s what you’re lying about, asshole.

        3. I’m not even sure that’s an argument.

        4. “Anyone who believes otherwise is a blind dogmatist.”

          LOL

          The breeze that just ruffled your hair was the “SS Titanic Irony” flying over your head.

        5. No institution is pure and good entirely.

          Unless that institution has a monopoly right to trespass against your life, liberty and property. Why then it’s an indispensable force for all that is good.

          1. Not at all. Checks and balances are absolutely required for government to function properly. Same with capitalism.

            1. The great thing about a free market is that it is its own check and balance. Capitalism built on a free market is balanced by the forces within the free market.

              1. Yes, that’s the sort of dogmatic bullshit I was talking about.

                1. Please explain how making bad decisions in a free market is not eventually checked by failure. Also explain how “monopolies” in a free market are not eventually balanced by competition.

                  1. One of the most profitable industries in the history of earth is destroying the biosphere. I don’t know what more you want as an example of failure. Monopolies by definition crowd out competition. They happen naturally without laws preventing them. Prices get inflated and quality goes down, undermining the point of capitalism.

                    1. Tony:

                      Monopolies by definition crowd out competition. They happen naturally without laws preventing them. Prices get inflated and quality goes down, undermining the point of capitalism.

                      Right. I’m waiting any minute for my google searches to start costing $0.50/pop and start producing junk.

                    2. Google is not a monopoly. Nevertheless, do you think everything it does is socially beneficial because it only responds to market forces?

                    3. Tony:

                      Google is not a monopoly.

                      Usually, a company doesn’t have to be an actual “monopoly” to be called a monopoly. In fact, if an industry it dominated by a relatively small number of large entities, that usually enough for a socialist to scream “monopoly.”

                      In fact, you can google “google monopoly” and read about it being framed as a monopoly, despite yahoo and bing.

                      If we’re going to use a strict monopoly definition, then I’m not sure that the scary socialist examples of monopoly really exist anymore.

                      Nevertheless, do you think everything it does is socially beneficial because it only responds to market forces?

                      No, and I don’t really care. Is everything you do a social benefit?

                      I really don’t like the sound of having my options limited to the subjective “social benefit” people with suspicious motives may assign it.

                    4. Usually, a company doesn’t have to be an actual “monopoly” to be called a monopoly. In fact, if an industry it dominated by a relatively small number of large entities, that usually enough for a socialist to scream “monopoly.”

                      To be pedantic, socialists usually scream “cabal!” in that case.

                    5. To be pedantic, socialists usually scream “cabal!” in that case.

                      But, frequently, they scream monopoly. They either really don’t care about the difference, or don’t want to confuse their stupid readers who know what a monopoly is, but don’t know what a cabal or a cartel is.

                      I just read an article a few days ago about the chicken meat “monopoly”, which is a monopoly, apparently, because it’s dominated by a half dozen or so major players.

                      Apparently, monopoly doesn’t mean monopoly anymore.

                      It’s really convenient that way for socialists. For example, cell phones: if natural market forces lead to apple and android dominating the cell phone market, well, then, see how natural monopolies are? Monopolies everywhere! Gee, the world is so scary. I sure hope the government can take the scariness away.

                    6. Your business doesn’t provide enough “social benefit”, so I’m afraid that we will have to confiscate all of your property, send your children to re-education camps, and we’ll be sending you to the labor camps.

                    7. Re: Tony,

                      Google is not a monopoly.

                      Of course it is not. The only monopolies are those created by the State itself.

                      do you think everything it does is socially beneficial because it only responds to market forces?

                      How can you keep up this game of separating the market from its own participants and still keep your wits, Tony? Just what the fuck do you think conforms the market AND society, anyway?

                      This is why everybody piles on you, because you’re a liar and a cheat. You’re never serious. You’re devoid of any semblance of intellectual honesty.

                      Now, piss off. I want to talk about something else.

                    8. “One of the most profitable industries in the history of earth is destroying the biosphere”

                      Just because Hollywood won’t remake your favorite Pauly Shore movie isn’t cause to claim that “capitalism has failed” you

                    9. Tony|10.31.14 @ 4:04PM|#
                      …”Monopolies by definition crowd out competition.”

                      Might well be true. Name one.

                    10. Re: Tony,

                      One of the most profitable industries in the history of earth is destroying the biosphere.

                      You mean Facebook?

                      I don’t know what more you want as an example of failure.

                      Like an actual example of failure. That would be a good start.

                      Monopolies by definition crowd out competition.

                      Nobody asked for a lecture.

                      They happen naturally without laws preventing them.

                      This is an obvious lie, because you conveniently leave out Patent Laws. Also, you have NO clue of what you talk about. There’s no such thing as a “natural” monopoly.

                    11. I seriously love when a statist brings up “monopolies” when there isn’t a single example of a “natural” monopoly in the history of history. Monopolies are ghost stories. They are like the Keyser Soze of leftist economic thought. “Be a good proggie or the monopoly will get you!”

                    12. here’s no such thing as a “natural” monopoly.

                      Well actually there is, but not in the way Tony means. A “natural monopoly” can exist in the case of highly scarce resources. But even these firms face pressures to downwardly price their products and maintain some level of quality unless they are a state sponsored monopoly, of which the vast majority of monopolies are.

                    13. One of the most profitable industries in the history of earth is destroying the biosphere.

                      I assume this is the start of a global warming screed? If so, I’m out. You already know we don’t agree with you on this because the models have been so hilariously wrong.

                      Monopolies by definition crowd out competition.

                      Name a monopoly that has existed for more than two generations of the product without government support of the monopoly. Just name one.

                    14. They happen naturally without laws preventing them. Prices get inflated and quality goes down, undermining the point of capitalism.

                      When prices go up and quality goes down, what is stopping a new competitor from entering the market, thus making it no longer a monopoly?

                      Oh, right, the monopolist will suddenly cut prices, because he’s got economies of scale? Or start making better quality products? Thus, you know, negating what you imagine to be the negative effects of the monopoly.

                      Unless the monopolist can legally prevent new entrants to the market, he will always be at the risk of losing his monopoly, and thus will be inclined NOT to raise prices or cut quality.

                    15. You’re right. Laws do not prevent monopolies, rather they seem to nourish them.

                      For instance, patent laws cripple the ability of others to compete on equal terms, keeping monopolies in check, and thereby allowing a single company to inflate prices and reduce quality. If you try to compete with a product that is too similar, you will go to jail.

                      Subsidies gives special favor to some companies, but not others, based on a notion of “fairness” which is very elastic and corruption prone. Such as the very special brand of cronyism, where certain companies or industries are mentioned by name in legislation.

                      In your previous post about checks and balances, you unfairly compared capitalism to government.

                      A closer comparison would be government to a corporation, which in capitalism is already checked by other corporations. Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola for instance. But in government each branch is a monopoly unto itself, and part of a preconceived whole.

                      Libertarians advocate for free markets because they are fluid and able to quickly adapt, while government is at best much slower to adapt because of its monolithic nature, and the necessity of checks and balances to counter corruption.

                    16. while government is at best much slower to adapt because of its monolithic nature

                      It’s slower to adapt because it’s financiers contribute to it involuntarily.

                2. Tony|10.31.14 @ 3:55PM|#
                  “Yes, that’s the sort of dogmatic bullshit I was talking about.”

                  Yes, asshole, that’s what you have no business posting about since you haven’t a clue as to how that works.
                  Oh, and fuck off.

            2. Not at all. Checks and balances are absolutely required for government to function properly. Same with capitalism.

              The state is the ultimate arbiter of all disputes including those involving itself. That is neither a check nor a balance, in fact it quite nearly neuters the notion of a check on power.

              Same with capitalism.

              Luckily with a decentralized institution like ‘capitalism’, checks and balances are built into the system.

              Monopolies by definition crowd out competition. They happen naturally without laws preventing them.

              Show me an unjust monopoly that exists without the support of the state. You need force to back up a monopoly or inevitably competition will arise naturally. Look to the institution with a monopoly of the legal initiation of force.

        6. Re: Tony

          —Anyone who believes otherwise is a blind dogmatist.—

          I see that you decided to drop any pretense of being logical and reasonable.

          I can feel your anger…

        7. I don’t think you even understand what “capitalism” is.

          Capitalism doesn’t “do” anything to “despoil” the environment. People despoil the environment because they are presented with economic incentives that make it profitable to despoil the environment. Those incentives will exist in all sorts of different economic systems, capitalist or not. If you make people pay for the costs of their despoilage, they will stop doing it. Making people pay for costs they impose upon others is hardly incompatible with “capitalism”. Many would consider it a central tenet.

          This is like blaming unwed pregnancies on birth control pills. OMG the sexual revolution and casual sex , therefore, the PILL is to blame for teen preganacies!

          1. I’m glad you’re on board with a big fat carbon tax. I agree–it’s jus’ capitalism.

            1. I doubt Hazel Meade shares your belief in CAGW.

              1. How convenient and stupid.

                1. I do believe in global warming. If you could accurately calculate the actual costs attributable per pound of carbon emissions, and guarentee that the money would go directly to the people impacted by climate change, then there would be nothing wrong with a carbon tax.

                  Problem is, both of those things are unlikely to happen. A carbon tax would probably be simply set at whatever level was politically expedient, and the monies would just go into the general treasury.

                2. Tony, every IPCC approved global mean temperature model ever published has been wrong. Actual temperatures through 2014 have routinely been not just below the prediction, but below the lower error bar of the prediction.

                  If someone keeps telling you something and it keeps turning out to be wrong, you need to stop believing them.

                  Now let’s get back on subject. You were going to give me an example of a monopoly that has persisted without government support.

        8. Of course capitalism can despoil the environment and cause more harm than good. Anyone who believes otherwise is a blind dogmatist.

          Well, I guess that’s true in a way. But why “especially capitalism”? Various brands of socialism all made at least as big a mess as capitalists did when industrializing. Say what you will about capitalism, but various supposed alternatives to capitalism have an appalling record when it comes to environmental damage.

          1. Principals, not principles.

            When socialists trash the environment it’s OK because it isn’t the rich doing it.

            See?

          2. Nothing has held a candle to capitalism when it comes to damaging the environment. Sorry. We all benefit in the short-term, so long as the costs are a continent of trash in the Pacific and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that haven’t affected us greatly yet. If you can discard your trash on someone else’s lawn, capitalism works great for you.

            1. Nothing has brought more people out of grinding poverty and agricultural subsistence than capitalism.

              And “discarding ones trash on someone else’s lawn” is nothing but a violation of someone’s property rights, which are integral to capitalism.

              But you knew that.

              1. And the Pacific ocean and atmosphere are whose property, again?

                1. Neither belong to anyone. That tends to be a problem.

                  And of course any human system will have to deal with pollution. Destroying people’s rights in property through extreme or unnecessary regulation is not the way to assuage it.

                2. Tony|10.31.14 @ 4:23PM|#
                  “And the Pacific ocean and atmosphere are whose property, again?”

                  You slimy piece of shit, don’t you get tired of having your hat handed to you? Are you so stupid you actually believe the government is a better steward of the land than a private owner?
                  When did you brains leak out of your head, asshole?

            2. Re: Tony,

              Nothing has held a candle to capitalism when it comes to damaging the environment.

              Not even socialism? Lake Baikal? The Aral sea? None of these ring a bell, you mendacious fool?

              1. A pissing match between dogmas is not something that interests me. Environmental harm is what it is. Do you not believe that capitalism can cause it?

                1. Nothing has held a candle to capitalism when it comes to damaging the environment.

                  Followed by:

                  A pissing match between dogmas is not something that interests me.

                  Mendacious as ever, Tony!

                2. Re: Tony,

                  A pissing match between dogmas[…]

                  You think this is what this is? You first tell a blatant lie, I show you that you’re lying and then you equate the discussion to a dogma competition?

                  Go fuck yourself, you mendacious fool.

                3. Saying that capitalism causes environmental harm is like saying that distrust causes violence.

                  I think we’re getting a little anthropomorphic here.

                  People damage the environment. They do so regardless of which description accurately describes their economic model.

                4. Tony|10.31.14 @ 4:24PM|#
                  “A pissing match between dogmas is not something that interests me.”

                  There’s no pissing match, asshole; you lost.
                  Fuck off.

                5. “A pissing match between dogmas is not something that interests me. Environmental harm is what it is. Do you not believe that capitalism can cause it?”

                  This is the thread winner. You are the absolutely most mendacious, intellectually dishonest and vacuous CUNT PARASITE that ever lived. You get called IMMEDIATELY on your dissembling and then try to pan it off like you aren’t being a morally bankrupt doofus. God, you are such a sad fuck…

              2. Does the Aral Sea even still exist? Honest question.

            3. So where DO all those greenhouse gases come from? Are they somehow tagged and directly traceable to specific countries or economic systems?

              This is an honest question, I’m not trying to be clever.

        9. And yet somehow the right to one’s property should regularly be up for a vote, since rights in property aren’t real, anyway.

          Because majority rules is pure, good, and noble when it comes to rights the left dislikes.

          1. I’m surprised the left doesn’t see the huge contradiction between environmentalism and the welfare state. I’m not sure how they intend to solve the problem of population growth if they can’t bring themselves to either tell people they can’t have babies, or refuse to feed those babies.

            1. Silly HM, looking at results. All the left sees is intentions.

            2. The problem of population can’t be solved, not even with horrific draconian policies. We’ve kind of hit escape velocity on that one. So we need another idea. Why don’t we all hold our breaths waiting for capitalism alone to come up with it?

              1. The problem of population can’t be solved, not even with horrific draconian policies.

                Then get your stupid party to stop instituting wealth-destroying policies, which do nothing but exacerbate human misery.

              2. Tony:

                The problem of population can’t be solved, not even with horrific draconian policies. We’ve kind of hit escape velocity on that one. So we need another idea. Why don’t we all hold our breaths waiting for capitalism alone to come up with it?

                If your strategy for coping with a growing population and environmental impacts is going to involve using resources more and more efficiently to accomplish more and more things while consuming less and less, then you’re probably going to have to rely on it.

                1. But capitalism does not yet put a price on environmental harm of this type. The incentive to innovate exists but in the absence of some of the real cost of alternatives to innovation. You do agree that it could be perfectly rational in the market to eschew innovation, given the right incentives?

                  1. Re: Tony,

                    But capitalism does not yet put a price on environmental harm of this type.

                    You’re again confusing concepts. Capitalism is a process of applying Capital (savings, or postponed consumption), capital goods and labor to create goods of higher value. What you’re saying is that PEOPLE can’t put a price on environmental harm, which is true when there are NO CLEARLY-DELINEATED PROPERTY RIGHTS.

                    1. What you’re saying is that PEOPLE can’t put a price on environmental harm, which is true when there are NO CLEARLY-DELINEATED PROPERTY RIGHTS.

                      That’s what I was going to say. Well done.

                  2. Tony|10.31.14 @ 4:28PM|#
                    “But capitalism does not yet put a price on environmental harm of this type.”

                    Yes, it does; the problem is when the government takes over and turns it into ‘public land’.
                    It then gets treated like a ‘public toilet’.

                  3. Tony:

                    You do agree that it could be perfectly rational in the market to eschew innovation, given the right incentives?

                    So, you want to:
                    1. Figure out a clever way to have the planet support more and more people in an environmentally friendly way, while
                    2. eschewing innovation?

                    Good luck with that.

              3. Tony|10.31.14 @ 3:52PM|#
                “The problem of population can’t be solved,”

                Yeah, you lying piece of shit:
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D…..ic_paradox

              4. Here’s a novel idea. If you tell people you’re not going to feed their babies, they might voluntarily choose to have fewer of them.

              5. “The problem of population can’t be solved, not even with horrific draconian policies. We’ve kind of hit escape velocity on that one. So we need another idea. Why don’t we all hold our breaths waiting for capitalism alone to come up with it?”

                Check and Mate, Libertardians! Since unfettered, free market capitalism has been the only state of affairs since humans have existed, and it hasn’t solved every conceivable problem, the only solution is to give government control of human interactions, which has never been tried, a chance! Why can’t you stupid, dogmatic anarchists give Benevolent Government the tiniest little chance to influence any aspect of the market? Why are you afraid of the Utopia that will surely result from Government gaining ANY power?

              6. Population solves itself. Mostly by transitional demographics, the idea that made all of Ehrlich’s predictions about population incorrect. We are getting near peak population as we speak.

        10. Re: Tony,

          The strawman police strikes again.

          It wasn’t me who used those heavily-loaded concepts and bad arguments, Tony.

      4. I remember my father pointing to a forested hillside, remarking on how beautiful it was, and then noting how evil capitalists see it as a place to put a housing development. They want to ruin it all because they’re greedy and evil.

        Except for that development in which he owned a house, right? I’ll bet that one was OK.

        1. As long as he can look out the window to view the pristine hillside and increase his property values. Gaia would want it that way.

      5. It seems like that attitude is in large part just another case of people wanting to impose their own preferences on others.

        I hate to see beautiful forested hillsides developed for housing too. But I recognize that other people might value some new houses more and if I want to keep land “pristine” is should buy it myself or donate to a land conservation trust or something.

        1. It seems like that attitude is in large part just another case of people wanting to impose their own preferences on others.

          Absolutely this.

          One a person buys a piece of real estate, he should not expect that others may not wish to do the same, and that what they wish to do with theirs may be contrary to his desires.

    2. If we’re all here, then how can there be overpopulation

      Well they are definitely misuing the word. But it’s feasible that a population of let’s say… deer in West Virginia, might reproduce at a higher rate than could possibly be supported by the scarce resources to be found come winter, that would be overpopulation.

      Human overpopulation really only exists in some places in sub-Saharan Africa where foreign aid drives population growth beyond what can be economically sustained in the absence of foreign aid.

      We can call people like the Ehrlichs, ‘Malthusians’, for preferring that all of humanity return to the Malthusian Trap to spend a thousand generations in abject poverty.

    3. Out of one side of their mouths they claim that we have to redistribute wealth from the rich to the “poor” because they will grow the economy by spending it (consume) and “consumers are two-thirds of the economy of the US!” Out of the other side of their mouth they claim that we consume too much and must be regulated back for the sake of the planet.

      Remind me what the real definition of cognitive dissonance is.

  3. How can someone like the butterfly watcher be so wrong so many times for so long and still be considered an expert? First we’re all going to starve, then we’re all going to freeze, then we’re all going to boil to death, and people still take him seriously?

    1. We can prevent hurricanes if we just kill all the butterflies.

      1. Well, we can’t do that then; think what would happen to the livelihoods of all those noble citizens who work for FEMA! Do you like higher unemployment rates and starving childrenz?

    1. Um…

      Shut up, that’s how.

    2. Global warming is a moronic cult, but idiots like you who go around pointing to anecdotal evidence like “look, it’s cold somewhere!” are just as stupid and useless as the warming idiots who go “strong hurricanes this year? Proof of global warming!!!”

      You’re all fucking morons. You should all get together and jerk each other off because you’re all part of the same circle jerk.

      1. That escalated quickly….

        1. That got out of hand fast…

          1. Considering the circle jerk references, I would say it got “in to hand” quickly.

            *puts on sunglasses*

            *Roger Daltrey screams*

      2. Someone’s got teh Ebolaz…

      3. It is odd how many seem to think that being even stupider than the people you disagree with is a good strategy for winning arguments.

      4. Great stuff from the biggest retard in the commentariat who watches cartoons and thinks people here are interested in his penis.

        1. Oh, surely there are bigger retards.

        2. Wait, people here aren’t interested in Episiarch’s penis?

          Oh, and there’s nothing wrong with watching cartoons.

          1. Cartoons are some of the best shows on TV.

      5. Or, perhaps is just mockery/a counterweight of the incessant citing of weather and other events by the warmistas to “prove” global warming is real and bad and stuff.

        You know, irony. Sarcasm. The lifeblood of the intertubez.

      6. Well, I think we found one of Epi’s buttons. Big one too.

      7. One of the biggest claims about global warming is that we would never seen snow again. In winter, mind you, not just fall.

        And like it or not, posts like that refute such charges..

  4. Poverty is so romantic.

    1. Isn’t it though? My environmentalist friend is always FB posting anti-GMO, anti-oil articles, alongside pictures of her in her organic vegetable garden. I’m all for her self-sufficient food production, but she and other like her betray a glaring lack of self-awareness by not recognizing that their very ability to live a relaxed life of growing veggies and pontificating on mother nature is a direct extension of the wealth created by cheap, plentiful hydrocarbon energy and the technology to feed 7 billion people. Capitalism allows people to chose to be poor, not that they are actually, historically poor, as they can’t see the abject poverty that subsistence farmers who live off the land actually experience.

      1. Is she posting from her locally, organically-grown iPhone?

      2. GMO crops could lead to massive cutbacks in 3rd world agricultural inputs. Considering there are still large areas where farmers use very resource intensive farming styles, you’d think people who claim to support the environment would be happy about them. Instead, Monsanto is just behind the Koch Bros. on their demons list.

        1. I don’t think it’s as much hostility towards GMO crops as hostility to the politics of the people who make them. If the makers of GMOs trumpeted support for Democrats, then the environmentalists would say GMO crops are wonderful.

          1. Maybe. I have no idea what the politics of Monsanto is. Do they support a lot of Republicans?

            I just see it more as a combination of willful ignorance and weird quasi-religious environmentalism. For some reason people want to believe that we are always on the brink of doom and destruction.

            1. For some reason people want to believe that we are always on the brink of doom and destruction.

              The future’s uncertain and the end is always near.

          2. Hostilty to GMO is the religious hysteria of the environmental movement.

            No amount of evidence can persuade them that GMO is not only safe, but positively benign in environmental terms.

          3. At it’s core, the anti-GMO/Organic/Natural movement is against Big Ag (capitalism) and ultimately is aligned with the WTO protest movements (welcome to a New World Order).

      3. I’m all for her self-sufficient food production

        Her garden produces her food requirements for the whole year? Instead of self-sufficient, maybe you meant sustainable? (which it probably isn’t either.)

  5. Yes, in the same sense that the planet can only produce enough calories to sustain 5 billion people, and that we will run out of oil in 1998, capitalism is unsustainable.

    1. …and we would be at peak farm land if it wasn’t for the moronic Malthusian’s who force us to turn food into gasoline.

  6. Human activity is remaking the face of the Earth: transforming and polluting the landscape, warming the atmosphere and oceans, and causing species to go extinct.

    If science has taught me anything, Mother Nature had been doing all three of those quite nicely on its own before humans were around.

  7. Is Capitalism Socialism Environmentally Unsustainable?

    1. Is Capitalism Socialism Environmentally Entirely Unsustainable?

  8. Worried about prosperity?
    “How a large population leads to prosperity, better health and longer life for everyone”
    […]
    “Indeed, it makes you wonder: Is our population a cause of our prosperity?
    The answer is almost certainly yes. The main source of progress is newideas. We are richer today than we were 100 years ago because we learned so much. We learned ways for one farmer to feed hundreds of people, we learned how to fly, we learned how to make iPhones. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Lucas puts it, the world’s expanding prosperity is “mainly an ongoing intellectual achievement, a sustained flow of new ideas.”
    http://beforeitsnews.com/india…..42958.html

    How about ‘overpopulation’?
    “The higher the degree of education and GDP per capita of a human population, subpopulation or social stratum, the fewer children are born in any industrialized country.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D…..ic_paradox

    You’ll notice both of those processes function quite well absent any intrusive government.

    1. Not to mention that when it comes the scourge of “overpopulation”, they completely ignore environmental carrying capacity. Population growth will stagnate or decline as the scarcity of vital goods increases.

  9. Is the Word “Sustainable” a Bullshit Term Loaded With Anti-Capitalist Assumptions That We Need Top Down Control Of All Human Activity?

    1. Why, yes, I believe it is!

    2. The word “sustainability” is just another way of saying “zero growth” which was the bullshit anti-market ideology of the 70s, except repackaged as a new business ethics concept with which scores of clueless business majors have been bamboozled to believe at Harvard, Princeton, MIT and Columbia.

  10. The Ehrlichs urge the “reduction of the worship of ‘free’ markets that infests the discipline” of economics.

    That’s like saying economics infests the discipline of economics. And here I thought it was politics infesting the discipline of economics.

  11. Capitalism? Could we try that now?

  12. Markets are famously good at efficiently allocating scarce resources.
    There is no contradiction between liberty and the environment once you appropriately assign ownership of those scarce resources. The problem is that environmental “goods” are so often held in common or not accounted for, which is what produces externalities. But if you appropriately assign ownership of environmental goods and assign costs back to the origins, then the market will do an excellent job optimally balancing human needs – including the need for a stable environment.

    The word “liberty” is somewhat problematic because many people use it to mean “doing whatever you want, at someone else’s expense”. If costs are assigned back to their origins then some people will feel their liberty is restricted because they cannot afford to pay for the costs of what they are doing. But if you define it to mean the freedom to do what you want as long as you accept responsibility for the costs, then there is no conflict.

    1. Yes and no.

      If a market is truly free, then yes, but all too often markets are not free. On the one hand you have the government, but you also have companies forming cartels and deliberately not competing with each other.

  13. Non-capitalist societies are vastly more destructive, because those societies are where Malthusian scenarios actually happen.

    If the world abandons capitalism, eventually every square foot of ground will look like the worst parts of Haiti. Because people reduced to subsidence lifestyles will eat everything and use everything for fuel before they’ll just die. Every animal, every insect, every tree, every blade of grass. All of it.

    1. Right. If you have no mechanism for allocating ownership of scarce resources, people will just consume them all.

    2. Lies ! North Korea the utopian socialist dream paradise is a bucolic wonderland of greenery and fat people !

    3. People like to ignore that that outcome is pretty explicitly part of the intention of Marxism as well, getting rid of city/country distinction and all that.

      At least old school communists were honest enough to say that they were all about the development of humanity (albeit in a terrible, destructive way) and didn’t really care about the non-human natural world.

  14. IN 1798 Thomas Robert Malthus inaugurated a grand tradition of environmentalism with his best-selling pamphlet on population. Malthus argued with impeccable logic but distinctly peccable premises that since population tended to increase geometrically (1,2,4,8 ) and food supply to increase arithmetically (1,2,3,4 ), the starvation of Great Britain was inevitable and imminent. Almost everybody thought he was right. He was wrong.

    1. In 1865 an influential book by Stanley Jevons argued with equally good logic and equally flawed premises that Britain would run out of coal in a few short years’ time. In 1914, the United States Bureau of Mines predicted that American oil reserves would last ten years. In 1939 and again in 1951, the Department of the Interior said American oil would last 13 years. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.N 1798 Thomas Robert Malthus inaugurated a grand tradition of environmentalism with his best-selling pamphlet on population. Malthus argued with impeccable logic but distinctly peccable premises that since population tended to increase geometrically (1,2,4,8 ) and food supply to increase arithmetically (1,2,3,4 ), the starvation of Great Britain was inevitable and imminent. Almost everybody thought he was right. He was wrong.

      In 1865 an influential book by Stanley Jevons argued with equally good logic and equally flawed premises that Britain would run out of coal in a few short years’ time. In 1914, the United States Bureau of Mines predicted that American oil reserves would last ten years. In 1939 and again in 1951, the Department of the Interior said American oil would last 13 years. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

      Dec 18th 1997 – the economist (Probably wouldn’t get published in that periodical today…)

      1. Can’t let reality intrude on economic theories.

    2. Some people are incapable of understanding what happens when resources become scarce.

      In a capitalist system, increasing scarcity of resources results in restraints on growth, because people can’t AFFORD to pay for the higher costs of those resources. If water and food TRULY become scarce resources, population growth will naturally slow.
      Unless we engage in a fool-hardy policy of attempting to guarentee everyone can have as many babies as they want and we’ll promise to feed them anyway.

      1. In a capitalist system, increasing scarcity of resources results in restraints on growth, because people can’t AFFORD to pay for the higher costs of those resources. If water and food TRULY become scarce resources, population growth will naturally slow.

        The converse of this is also true: when governments subsidize the costs of natural resources, such as providing otherwise scarce water to naturally arid lands, demand for that resource tends to go up, even though the resource gets depleted. The consumers of the resource do not bear the costs of that resource’s increasing scarcity since the government pays for it through taxation, inflation, or credit; instead, the costs get so spread out that the average consumer does not notice what he normally would: an ever increasingly-expensive resource.

        That is what leads to overconsumption. It is not capitalism, but government distortion, which harms the environment.

  15. Screwed that up, Goddamit.
    IN 1798 Thomas Robert Malthus inaugurated a grand tradition of environmentalism with his best-selling pamphlet on population. Malthus argued with impeccable logic but distinctly peccable premises that since population tended to increase geometrically (1,2,4,8 ) and food supply to increase arithmetically (1,2,3,4 ), the starvation of Great Britain was inevitable and imminent. Almost everybody thought he was right. He was wrong.

    In 1865 an influential book by Stanley Jevons argued with equally good logic and equally flawed premises that Britain would run out of coal in a few short years’ time. In 1914, the United States Bureau of Mines predicted that American oil reserves would last ten years. In 1939 and again in 1951, the Department of the Interior said American oil would last 13 years. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

  16. Economist used to be dope about this shit, yo…

  17. Capitalism is absolutely politically unsustainable.

    1. Which wouldmight make sense if Capitalism was a political system!

      1. I read lap’s comment more along the lines of “free shit gets you more votes.”

        1. You are a better reader than I. I may have made the mistake of taking it entirely at face value.

  18. Say what you want about Rush Limbaugh…for years the guy has been saying that “Green is the new Red” in terms of political ideology.

    1. Watermelons. Green on the outside, red on the inside.

  19. Free markets are the most robust mechanism ever devised by humanity for delivering rapid feedback on how decisions turn out.

    Yes, Free Markets, but also Private Property rights, Ron. Without private property rights, you can’t know what resources exist and how desirable are they.

    1. Well, without property rights, you have no markets at all. I think its implicit.

  20. It always comes down to controllong the breeding of the proles with prgressives.

    1. “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

      -Progressive hero Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., upholding the power of Virginia to forcibly sterilize the “feebleminded” in Buck v. Bell.

      1. The Judge is a terrible writer, but Theodore and Woodrow is filled with unbelievable, ghastly shit like this.

        In those dark hours when I’m tempted to think that Clinton/Bush/Obama constitute the absolute bottom of the barrel in executive scumbaggery, I’m reminded that my great-grandparents put up with a hell of a lot worse–namely a president who willingly marched 120,000 American conscripts to their death in an insane initiative to “end war”–and didn’t have any modern amenities or education to dull the pain.

        1. A great book btw. Showed just how evil Progressives really are.

  21. Ehrlich is 82, and he’s spent his adult life cultivating a popular image as an environmental Cassandra. It’s probably a little late to change now even if he hadn’t been reinforced in his sophistry by being made a millionaire several times over.

    For those with strong stomachs or a taste for the surreal, check out this 2008 interview with MoJo I found after reading Bailey’s studied and oddly polite dissection of a man who is massively more dangerous than the worst Fallwellian fundamentalist: http://www.motherjones.com/env…..ul-ehrlich

    A couple of notable sentences to wet your rhetorical whistle:

    Paul Ehrlich: Overall, The Population Bomb was probably too optimistic.

    MJ: Your predictions can’t be too poor: 40 years after your book, environmentalists and scientists still consider overpopulation to be an essential issue.

    MJ: If you were in the Oval Office, what would be your first policy move?

    PE: My first policy move would be to try to get a conversation going in the US about what people stand for and what we really want. Do we want to keep adding people to the world and to our country until we move to a battery-chicken kind of existence and then collapse?

    Look at all those battery chickens living in their cramped penthouse condos in Manhattan. What a buncha saps–don’t they know they could live on a 100-acre sustainable farm at far less expense? It’s like the values by which people live are subjective or something.

    1. It’s like the values by which people live are subjective or something.

      Precisely. What Erlich and his ilk really want is to reshape the world to fit with their personal preferences.

      It’s amazing how much personal taste drives public policy. It’s almost like we need a government with very limited powers, or something.

    2. Knarf Yenrab!|10.31.14 @ 4:36PM|#
      “Ehrlich is 82,”

      Sorry the asshole hasn’t died yet. He deserves to be dead.

  22. Environmental harm is what it is. Do you not believe that capitalism can cause it?

    No, I don’t.
    “Capitalism” doesn’t “do” anything. It’s just a way of assigning ownership of resources. Is there something inherent in the concept of private ownership of resources that causes harm to the environment? No.

  23. I don’t see any reason why the two can’t coexist simultaneously, and successfully. But it at a minimum demands that capitalism recognize a problem when it occurs. And sadly, when it comes to the environment, many capitalists (particularly many Libertarians) would prefer to just deny the problem even exists…such as man-made climate change. I’m beginning to believe that they deny the science simply because they have to…they just don’t have a solution through the free markets. That would of course mean putting a price on carbon, because THERE IS an actual cost, we just do not have a price, and future generations are going to pay it.

    So if you don’t want to put a price on it, something true capitalism demands, then maybe the two can’t co-exist. Sadly.

    1. Re: Jackand Ace,

      But it at a minimum demands that capitalism recognize a problem when it occurs.

      First of all, let’s get the concepts straight: capitalism is a process; it is applying Capital (postponed consumption, better known as savings), capital Goods (tools, infrastructure, etc) and labor to create goods of higher value with the purpose of accumulating wealth. That’s it.

      Who then recognizes a problem? PEOPLE. People make the Market. People recognize a problem and either offer a solution to the Market or demands one. So what you’re talking about is the Market (that is, us) not being able to recognize a problem, but that’s in itself hogwash.

      And sadly, when it comes to the environment, many capitalists […] would prefer to just deny the problem even exists

      Depends on what you think is a problem.

      such as man-made climate change.

      Ah, I see – so your prejudice against capitalism stems from your belief in so-called “climate change”.

      1. Re: Jackand Ace,

        I’m beginning to believe that they deny the science simply because they have to

        I don’t have to. The science is junk. When your assumptions stem from debunked models incapable of making predictions yet stubbornly hold on to those, it is clear there’s no science behind the assumptions or the models, but belief.

      2. I’ve got my concepts straight, so maybe you should re-read what I wrote. Capitalism demands that costs be accounted for, because to hide them is only phony capitalism. And the costs for CO2 are being hid.

        You’re the one who can’t even get the basics of capitalism straight. Let me know when you want all costs accounted for. You simply don’t.

        1. CAGW is in shambles now. The list is too long to enumerate. Model predictions are way off, double sensitivity estimates are way too high, extreme weather predictions are wrong, ocean heat content get out of jail free cards have been ripped up, predictions of Arctic ice extent have all fallen apart, let’s not event talk about the Antarctic…that part that is melting a bit, well it has active volcanoes under it…

          So you say “deny science” when it is you who deny science. Ultimately, any scientific theory has to make testable predictions CAGW has failed uniformly.

    2. Jackand Ace|10.31.14 @ 5:04PM|#
      “I don’t see any reason why the two can’t coexist simultaneously, and successfully.”

      Yeah, the ‘third way’ fantasy; when communism was shown to be a fraud, why the lefties (that’d be JA, among others) immediately started fishing for some redemption by hooking onto a market system.
      Sorry, JA, it doesn’t work; you slime-balls never give up in your attempt to control what people do, and screwing them out of prosperity as you do so.
      Go pitch your sorry crap at Huffpo.

    3. What is the cost? Show me the cost. Stern report? Laughable. The Earth is more productive today than 30 years ago. Population and property value-adjusted natural disaster damage in the US is flat to declining for the last 60 years. Accumulated cyclone energy is nothing special. The planet hasn’t warmed for 15-26 years, depending on your data set. The models have been disproved at the 97% confidence level. 97%…

      Why do you deny science?

  24. Jackand Ace:

    THERE IS an actual cost, we just do not have a price, and future generations are going to pay it.

    You could say the same thing about the national debt. When do we become fiscally conservative?

    Actually, that might address some of your environmental concerns, too. I mean, if the government spends less, stops “creating jobs!” and all that wonderful stuff, and the economy shrinks, well, then, we consume less and pollute less.

    I mean, that’s the main complaint against capitalism, right? It’s so successful compared to other models that people get wealthy and consume a lot, which has environmental impacts. Fewer handouts, fewer consumers, less consumption… problem solved.

    I think it would be easier to believe in government solutions if the governments weren’t trying to play both sides, simultaneously.

    1. You may be right….about all of it…both the feeding of climate change through constant growth as well as everyone trying to have it both ways at the same time.

      Kevin Anderson of Tyndall Centre for Climate Research has tried for years to lay out goals for CO2 reduction in order to stay at 2 degrees warming, and seems in recent years to fear the worst…that the cuts we need will lead to economic hardships. Even Pricewaterhouse Coopers is telling us every year it gets harder.

      I’m all ears and hopeful that the free market can suggest some solutions. But I am starting to lose hope.

      1. There are causes for hope. For example, I’ve read quite a few people explain that fracking reduces CO2 emissions so much in comparison to other “solutions” by orders of magnitude. They didn’t come up with fracking for its environmental impact, yet there it is.

        This is part of why I am a libertarian. At the point that I expect people to actually, really care about the environment, and what it does to future generations, then they should care about the national debt. In general, they should care much more about how they treat other people here and now. We have a system which assumes that inter-generational debt in the form of borrowing and taxing is a perfectly wonderful thing, yet, we then expect to turn around and tell people they shouldn’t drive around in cars because of the effect it may have in the future? Do we respect people, or not?

        I think that violence is a bigger problem than pollution. If lots of innocent people are going to die, it’s much more likely to be a war than an environmental catastrophe. And a lot of what government does is just controlled violence, benefiting one group over another. If that’s the norm, then why shouldn’t people desire to benefit themselves at the expense of future generations? One group benefits at the expense of another by design, frequently, and especially if we assume that whatever comes out of democracy is great.

        I don’t expect people to care about the environment before they care enough to resolve those issues.

    2. You could say the same thing about the national debt. When do we become fiscally conservative?

      The national debt is a known cost. Aside from the philosophical objections to climate science–number one being that it’s not recognizably a science in the normal sense of the word–the real-world problem is that the “actual cost” of climate change is hugely uncertain if not actually unknowable.

      David Friedman is fond of pointing out that the degree of uncertainty is such that we don’t even know the direction of the “cost” of warming, much less its magnitude. Many models indicate that the social cost of carbon is negative–meaning that it’s a net boon–for the first few decades of global warming, after which it takes a negative toll. That corresponds with basic insight into warming trends, namely that cold regions will warm faster than equatorial regions, potentially opening up grain belts and smoothing out the temperature gradients that create natural disasters.

      I especially like the impish argument that, since we’re living in an interglacial period, it could be too expensive to future generations *not* to flood the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, thereby preventing everything north of New York from being covered in ice at the onset of the next ice age.

      Bob Murphy and Pindyck at Sloan have also ripped into the “calculations” by which the social cost of carbon is engineered.

  25. This is an issue where there is a massive gulf between theory and reality.

    Yes, in theory markets and the pricing system are the best way to conserve a healthy enivronment. In reality however, advocates for markets NEVER actually advocate any workable system for pricing in the negative externalities of pollution/etc. So it is always up to the statists to take that issue and run with it (and benefit from the perception that they are enviro-friendly) – and market advocates, as usual, simply respond to whatever the other side proposes. IOW – market advocates usually end up making a statist system work better – rather than setting the agenda themselves.

    Far more serious and troubling though in my opinion, is that no one to my knowledge has actually figured out a way to think about the real externalities here – which is intergenerational. Neither a voting system nor a pricing system has any way of figuring out how to include future generations in their system – and both completely favor the present at the expense of the future. The concept of usufruct is the legal/philosophical way to think about it – but at present idle thoughts is all it is and all it will likely ever be. Put simply, the same self-centeredness that put in SS/Medicare to saddle their grandchildren with debt also drives bad environmental decisions across generations (whether through the market or the state)

    1. Thanks JFree, and I think you are exactly correct. The real problem is that all the chickens in the climate change problem will only come home to roost in the future…in another generations lifetime, not ours.

      I’m reading Klein’s “This Changes Everything,” and while I fundamentally disagree with her, I’m starting to wonder if I’m only holding out hope at this point that she is wrong. I mean, we are still arguing about whether or not the science is correct (see some comments above). You can disagree with her and I do, but you can’t argue with whether or not she has thought this issue out…she has. Her conclusions are troubling, but worth considering.

      1. Naomi Klein?…bwhahahahahahahaha.

      2. MAYBE global warming is correct, but in that case it will probably happen in like 500 years AT LEAST (remember, the earth’s time scale is HUGE – 500 years is a blip, changes rarely happen that fast), giving humans plenty of time to adapt or stop it.
        ASSUMING it is correct, NONE of the global warming people’s proposals would at all stop global warming, only going nuclear power around the world would.

        They’ve scarcely “proven” global warming, let alone that they could somehow magically also know that it’s going to happen so impossibly fast…

        kinda lost my train of thought. Anyway, the short answer is, the global warming peopple are full of shit. There is no intergenerational cost imposition, and if there is, it could have never been stopped and was bound to happen with the invention of petro fuel engines and can’t be blamed on capitalism. Intergenerational costs imposed on younger gens exists only with stupid government programs.

    2. Actually, the more I think about it, Ronald above is approaching the same core question that Klein does, and just arrives at a different conclusions.

      Both are worth considering. I hope Ronald is right.

  26. The dichotomy between the command economies of the East and the free-market economies of the West is a relic of the Cold War. When we consider the myriad subsidies, protections, and other regulatory interventions the US government has engaged in from its beginning, it’s quite clear that the American economy relies, in some degree, on what we could rightfully call central planning. Of course similar interventions are prevalent around the globe. Insofar as capitalism has historically developed in this context, it is incompatible with environmental sustainability.

  27. Here’s the short answer to all of Tony’s bullshit

    Tony only ever “argues” with absolute dogmatist libertarianism, which is far from everyone’s version of libertarianism here. Plenty of people here see the necessity of statutory as opposed to judicial regulation

    and then his whole argument kind of rests on the assumption that global warming is correct, and not only that, but further extreme exact scenarios are true, namely that it’ll happen on a human timescale that humans could stop. That second part is a whole nother theory that needs to be proven. But in the first place global warming is far from proven.

    Also, some pretty obvious mistakes; “capitalism” doesn’t pollute anything, our commerce and technology do. Indeed, semantically it’s impossible to have humans without pollution because of the nature of the word “natural” as excluding human volition. And all the other verbal ones Old Mexican pointed out. Tony wants to play the practical, technical card when he wants (“rights as an abstract don’t exist, they only exist when backed by force”), but then all of a sudden he wants to claim that “capitalism” is ruining the environment, or that he can just randomly claim things as market failure or externalities.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.