Read complete book review in the Wall Street Journal.
Great facts and information on claims of environmental doom!
Wall Street Journal July 23, 2015
BOOKSHELF Nigel Lawson
The End of Doom: Environmantal Renewal in the Twenty-first Century
By Ronald Bailey
Good News for Pope Francis and Other Environmental Pessimists
Despite an explosion in population greater than Malthus could have imagined, global living standards are higher than ever.
We live in an age of all-pervasive cultural pessimism. In one sense, this is understandable. The 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment, produced an explosion of scientific discovery as men’s minds escaped from the shackles of subservience to authority, both political and ecclesiastical. The 19th century was the great age of optimism, as technological development exploited the achievements of science, bringing inventions like the locomotive, the electric light and the telephone.
That optimism dissipated in the 20th century, when two disastrous world wars exposed the dark side of mankind. Far from recovering a sense of hopefulness during the relative peace of the 21st century, gloominess has become the default position of the intellectual classes in the Western world. As Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” puts it: “We may be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth.”
Ronald Bailey begs to differ. As his book demonstrates, a careful examination of the evidence shows that, at least in material terms (which is not unimportant, particularly for the world’s poor), life is getting better. The overriding reason for this, according to Mr. Bailey, is continuing technological progress, facilitated—and this is crucial—by the global triumph of market capitalism.
Among the scares examined by Mr. Bailey in “The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century” are overpopulation, the exhaustion of natural resources (particularly oil), the perils of biotechnology and genetic modification, and global warming.
Mr. Bailey has little difficulty demonstrating that, despite an explosion in world population greater than Thomas Malthus could possibly have envisaged in the 18th century, global living standards are higher than ever. “Food,” he writes, citing statistics from the World Bank and other organizations, “is more abundant today than ever before in history.” In the past 50 years alone, global food production has more than tripled.
It is also more than likely, in the opinion of most demographers, that world population will peak in the relatively near future and then start to decline. Mr. Bailey attributes this to the related phenomena of growing personal wealth in the developing world and the advance of education, particularly for girls, in those countries. He underplays, I suspect, another factor: Perhaps the most striking aspect of global development is the dramatic migration of population from the country to the city. Of course, this population movement is excellent news for wildlife and biodiversity.