The End of Doom
We discuss the growth and maturity of the modern environmental movement from Rachel Carson to Paul Ehrlich and Naomi Klein. From overpopulation and pollution to pesticide use, mass animal extinctions and peak oil to global cooling and global warming (now climate change) and genetically modified food, there seems to be no shortage of potential catastrophes for us to fret over. Is humanity truly perpetually poised on the brink of destruction? Or are the solutions these environmental millenarians propose the true threat to our species?
Show Notes and Further Reading
Ronald Bailey’s new book The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century is a must read on this topic.
We also recommend Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves and Brink Lindsey’s The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America’s Politics and Culture to get a better understanding of the power of markets to allocate resources in increasingly efficient ways.
Paul Ehrlich’s 1971 book The Population Bomb is mentioned in this show. It reads as fantastic science fiction today, though the predictions Ehrlich makes were taken quite seriously when the book was first published. Similarly, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) predicted a world in which it was common for people to die of cancer-related illnesses (caused by pollutants) at the age of 45. The book was instrumental in launching the modern-day environmental movement.
Bailey also mentions an article he wrote in 2009 about the National Academy of Sciences predictions in 1980 of what the world would look like in 2010, “How Green Is Your Crystal Ball?”