Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Lenin... err... I mean Earth Day

When it comes to their records on population control, Lenin or Stalin are mere footnotes compared to Rachel Carson's success at getting DDT banned. A quote from Club of Rome's co-founder Alexander King:

In Guyana, within almost two years, it had almost eliminated malaria, but at the same time the birth rate had doubled. So my chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it greatly added to the population problem.
While this might be a shocking revelation to the average humanitarian, I guess that's the point, ardent environmentalists can't also be humanitarians. Environmentalists must make an implicit or explicit choice of what they value more - humanity or "the environment". I was at a meeting of donors where a radical proposal for market based primary heathcare was being proposed for East Africa and a donor asked in all serious, "what if you're really successful? what about the impact of overpopulation to the environment?" After having discussed the impact this could have on kids - especially targeted group for the intervention, I think the rest of us sat stunned for a few moments.

As a bit of disclosure on my dark descent into economic libertarianism and media skepticism, it was my interest in the environment that did me in. I began with the premise that no, not all business people are evil and that there exist rational reasons for opposing measures to save the environment. I started out pretty good, even being the co-chair of the environment club in Grade 8 (yeah I am/was a geek). In high school, with an interest in business, it became a somewhat uncomfortable point that my interests were on a collision course for what I thought seemed and felt morally right. Then I discovered Julian Simon.

I'd suggest getting acquainted with a few more environmentalists as quoted by John Berlau at Open Market to see how much you really agree with. Then consider Ron Bailey's Earth Day article on the environment from 2000 on why the state of the Earth's environment has never been better.

Then reconsider one of the first leaders of the environmental movement, a woman who some say started it all - Rachel Carson who got DDT banned and if not, severely restricted:
The World Health Organization now estimates that there are between 300 and 500 million cases of malaria annually, causing approximately one million deaths. About 80% of those are young children, millions of whom could have been saved over the years with the regular application of DDT to their environments.
In a world where lying is defined to include statements made in ignorance though one may have been intentionally deceived, what does this make environmentalists who continue to support the ban on DDT? What of environmentalists who oppose industrialization and economic liberty for fear of the mass consumerism that it would bring while intentionally ignorant of the mass poverty, hunger and strife without it?

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