Whilst climate change is real and needs to be arrested and possibly reversed, there is a school of thought that argues against mindless environmental activism which could potentially derail human progress in itself. Alexander Ineichen is one such voice who calls for a more nuanced approach. He cites the collapse of Sri Lanka and its adoption of organic farming as one manifestation of this.

He begins with a critique of the economist Thomas Malthus who predicted the world with its population growth will run out of food, which obviously hasn’t materialised, thanks to human ingenuity we figured ways to produce more food.

“Crude oil is used in at least 6,000 products. However, it is not oil itself that is important but what it adds to our civilization’s current unprecedented affluence and longevity. Oil, like anything else, is an arrangement of atoms that is useful because it allows to be converted into fuels, petrochemicals, lubricants, asphalt, waxes, bitumen, plastics, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, clothing, etc. It is the utility we derive from oil that is important. There are no limits as to how we can rearrange atoms to produce a breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, odor-resistant, lightweight sports shirt, to name just one product currently made from oil.

…One aspect of environmentalism is the opposition against not just efficient fossil energy, but nuclear energy, hydro energy, and fertilizers too, i.e., an aversion against some of the main achievements of civilization. Another puzzling aspect of environmentalists is with regards to the ideas they propose to solve the negative externalities of growth. One such «idea» involves windmills, a technology that is at least 800 years old. Windmills are a good example of «degrowth», i.e., non-imagination, faux-innovation, and retrogression. Environmentalists, it seems, want to «flintstone» the economy.

…The practical relevance is that the problem solving of civilization’s negative externalities has been politicized. This means efficiency and growth are no longer prime objectives. If efficiency were a prime objective, environmentalists would advocate for thorium rather than wind power. Thorium, a metal, is more abundant than uranium, can be used as a fertile material in nuclear reactors, and large quantities have already been mined and are currently stored in countries that are friendly to freedom, business, and human rights, i.e., countries that are neither authoritarian nor totalitarian.”

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