Monday, April 27, 2009

Counter Intuitive

Save the World with Unbridled Economic Growth

I have written more than once that an economically weaker United States is a disaster for the environment. No matter which way you slice it you will come the the same truth - economic growth, striving for prosperity for everyone everywhere is the "greenest possible solution".

The concerned people who wring their hands over America's wealth and consumption have it exactly backwards. The richer, more prosperous we become as a society the less demand we put on the environment. Yes, we can absolutely credit the environmentalist movement for raising awareness, but thank God the creativity and technical genius of the capitalist mindset was allowed to flourish over the past 40 years. America and the West is a far cleaner, environmentally pure and yes, richer place than it was in the 1960's. The worry now is that the "Save the World" kooks who won't see the truth even when it slaps them in the face are running Congress and the White House and they are listening to Al Gore.

Jim Glass of has an illuminating post on his website that is must reading for those confused by the counter intuitive narrative of a strong and growing economy equals a cleaner, greener world. (read it here) He also has this nice and succinct graph:

You can also read about this in of all places the New York Times in this April 20, 2009 piece called "Use Energy, Get Rich and Save the Planet" by JOHN TIERNEY.

Tierney states: As [their] wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

“Once you have lots of high-rises filled with computers operating all the time, the energy delivered has to be very clean and compact,” said Mr. Ausubel, the director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller. “The long-term trend is toward natural gas and nuclear power, or conceivably solar power. If the energy system is left to its own devices, most of the carbon will be out of it by 2060 or 2070.”

I'll say it again and again if I have to - we need to use more energy not less to clean up the environment. We just need to use it more wisely and more efficiently. This will happen naturally if we let the economy continue to develop unabated by stupid and onerous energy use restrictions and clamps on the creativity of the market system.

Left to their own devices the greens and the socialists will kill the Golden Goose of capitalism and in the process create a poorer and dirtier world.