So we turned to something else over which we could soil our undies.
And the environmentalist movement was born.
That's my working theory anyway.
So how's that workin' out for us?
This began two generations ago, in 1972, when we were warned (by computer models developed at MIT) that we were doomed. We were supposed to be pretty much extinct by now, or at least miserable. We are neither. So, what went wrong?When this environmentalist madness dissipates - and it will - never to raise its ugly head again - expect the perpetually frightened among us to conjure something else that will set the "open-minded" class aflutter. The growing menace of nighttime, or something.
That year begat “The Limits to Growth,” a book from the Club of Rome, which called itself “a project on the predicament of mankind.” It sold 12 million copies, staggered the New York Times (“one of the most important documents of our age”) and argued that economic growth was doomed by intractable scarcities. Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish academic and “skeptical environmentalist,” writing in Foreign Affairs, says it “helped send the world down a path of worrying obsessively about misguided remedies for minor problems while ignoring much greater concerns,” such as poverty, which only economic growth can ameliorate.
MIT’s models foresaw the collapse of civilization because of “nonrenewable resource depletion” and population growth. “In an age more innocent of and reverential toward computers,” Lomborg writes, “the reams of cool printouts gave the book’s argument an air of scientific authority and inevitability” that “seemed to banish any possibility of disagreement.” Then — as now, regarding climate change — respect for science was said to require reverential suspension of skepticism about scientific hypotheses.
The modelers missed something — human ingenuity in discovering, extracting and innovating. Which did not just appear after 1972.
Forty years after “The Limits to Growth” imparted momentum to environmentalism, that impulse now is often reduced to children indoctrinated to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Lomborg calls recycling “a feel-good gesture that provides little environmental benefit at a significant cost.” He says that “we pay tribute to the pagan god of token environmentalism by spending countless hours sorting, storing and collecting used paper, which, when combined with government subsidies, yields slightly lower-quality paper in order to secure a resource” — forests — “that was never threatened in the first place.”
The epitaph I want etched on the environmentalist movement's tombstone:
“'We pay tribute to the pagan god of token environmentalism by spending countless hours sorting, storing and collecting used paper, which, when combined with government subsidies, yields slightly lower-quality paper in order to secure a resource' — forests — 'that was never threatened in the first place.'”
Anyway, been there, done that, doing that, will do that.
They'll never stop.