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The Environmental Jihad

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posted on Mar, 20 2006 @ 12:47 AM
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Found this on some forum. Pretty interesting, isn't it? Food for thought for environmentalists... or is there a other side, which the economist is missing?

The Environmental Jihad


All jihadi people seemingly share one common trait: they are highly emotional people who routinely disregard the hard facts of life; and they dream about a utopian world based on nothing more than mere holy sentiment, and without the practical devices of technology or systems to make the dream feasible.

Consider the hue and cry abt soil-erosion,excessive use of fossil fuels, contamination of drinking water supplies, depletion of fresh water loss of nutrients..

Let us try to make sense of the adjective 'Excessive use of fossil fuel’ can be a meaningful term if one could define the optimal level of use, and then show that the current level of use is in excess of the optimal. There is where the environmentalist has no clue. He has no idea what is the optimal level of use of fossil fuel or for that matter, of any natural resource. His most likely response is that the optimal level of fossil fuel use is zero. Here are some of the key facts.

The earth has a land surface of 14.3 billion hectare (ha), of which about a quarter is cultivable, (3.6 billion ha), out of which only about 1.4 billion ha are actually cultivated. At current high technology level of grain output, the 3.6 billion ha can feed 72 billion people, but the actual current population is less than 6.6 billion, and never likely to exceed 12 billion. World population is more likely to stabilize at significantly below 12 billion. So there will never be shortage of land. Remember that 75% of the land surface (covering deserts, forests, bogs, hilly areas) has been excluded from the definition of cultivable land. Indeed, there is no chance that even the whole cultivable land will be cultivated. Indeed, USA and Canada have been taking land out of cultivation.

Now, soil erosion cannot occur in cultivable land, which is by definition flat plain land with thick soil cover that cannot be eroded. It can occur in uncultivable land such as hilly areas, which should not be cultivated in the first place. Why is it cultivated then? The answer is economic, of which Malthus and his followers remain adamantly ignorant. A farmer cannot live in the wilderness merely to grow food in good plains of cultivable land: he must have access to all civic facilities, such as a place to be buried or cremated, a place for prayer or schooling or meeting friend, a place to buy and sell things and so on, in short, in a sufficiently well organized village connected to the cities. So vast tracts of perfectly good land remain untouched because the villages have not been settled there (or the people have left in search of bigger concentrations of facilities found in urban areas).

Now, when a road is built to connect a forest to the big cities, some squatters erect shanties by the road side, and try to grow crops in entirely unsuitable land, in slopes of hills or in areas with very thin soil cover. Erosion occurs. It has nothing to do with population growth or shortage of land. It has everything to do with whether roads exist to take the prospective farmer to the land he wants to farm. The political problem is that no land remains free. Fallow land belongs to somebody with political power, and the peasants will have to shell out money to get that land. But that is generally never a big issue. Owners of fallow land will happily let the land be used if they get some rent. In fact, serfdom occurred in the past because some landowners forced peasants to stay in land, though the settlements were not well provided with amenities to keep the peasants.

Depletion of freshwater is likewise a stupid result of stupid economic plans. Bangladesh is a major conduit for freshwater. About 11 trillion cubic feet of fresh water goes to the Indian Ocean, streaming through Bangladesh, putting the entire country except its few hills under flood. Roughly four lakh square miles of catchment area receives rainfall, but it goes to the ocean through the narrow pathways of the Gangetic delta. This water is wasted. If one had any brains to see that the bottled water is more costly per liter than gasoline even after the recent price hike, one would develop plans to capture part of the fresh water and bottle it for human use. Bangladesh alone could very well meet the global demand for bottled drinking water. Indeed, Bangladesh is wasting fresh water, which is actually more costly per liter than gasoline, while the idiots are dreaming of striking some mine containing fossil fuel or gas.

The issue is one of management and technology. The tragedy is the result of ignorance, which the jihadi is very good at perpetuating. The wastage of enormous fresh water in Bangladesh is not the result of population or development or technology: it is the result of idiocy. To take advantage of the wasted water, one in fact needs technology to purify the water of all contaminants, and bottle it, ship it and market it.

The key issue is job with good (high) wage. Do you want peasants in large numbers to use primitive technology and hence produce very little per person and remain utterly poor, or do you want them to learn technology and produce far more per person? If you want them to be more productive, you have two things to do.

First, remove the bulk of the peasant from the village, train them with urban skills and resettle them in newly created wide-roaded cities with 80% of the surface being left open.

Next, equip the very few who are left behind, so that though they are few, they can produce more than enough food for the entire population. The reason you cannot have many peasants each producing more food is simple: the demand for food is pretty stagnant. It is possible to produce more food, but it is not profitable. The real price of food has been falling continuously since 1750 because of perennial over supply. But yet people starve to death because they are unable to buy the food that eventually goes to waste.

Obviously, economics is too hard for any kind of jihadi to grasp. If they could grasp it, they would understand why economic development leads to a population explosion, and yet starts a chain reaction which ultimately reduces fertility and stabilizes the population. Thus suppose that England had a population of some 10 million when it embarked on development. At the end of the development, you would expect the population to have reached something like fifty million. Why?

Development begins by making the existing labor more productive by virtue of technology. The increase in income is first reflected in the increased use of medicine, which drastically cuts down the death rate while the birth rate has as yet no reason to decline. This is the basis of the explosion in population. But as more and more people try to acquire skills, they face a big dilemma: they just cannot raise a lot to of children like their ancestors and give the children enough education, because it is too costly in time and money. So they begin to reduce birth rate consciously. There is population momentum, meaning that the growth rate cannot fall of instantly, but falls down gradually as successive generations raise fewer and fewer children. But population must grow in absolute terms as a necessary result of economic development.

Now, emotional jihadi people just ignore facts. They ignore the fact that every developed country of today had much smaller population when it began development, and has ended up with a much larger population at the end. America had about 3 million people in 1775, and now has close to 280 million. It was the place that saw the highest fertility in world history, both for fertility records among Hutterites, and for the general population in Louisiana. The increasing population did not stop growth, but indeed fueled it by expanding the market.

The super large population in China did not stop it from growing at the highest known rate of growth, but actually helped by providing a virtually limitless market for any conceivable item. The jihadi people do not want to see that while per capita arable land fell from 0.44 ha in 1950 to 0.27 in 1990, the per capita food supply increased from 2287 calorie equivalent tot 2697 calorie equivalent. How? The same old land has been made more productive.

The key issue is again very simple. Do you want the peasant to be more productive? If you do, you have to give him technology so that he can produce more value out of the same land. But since you cannot sell the extra food if the existing farmers produce more per head, you have to take the majority of the peasants out of agriculture, and fit them in urban occupations of great variety.

The environmental jihadi does not consider the key issue at all. To him, environment is the thing that must be kept intact. It is possible if only the people are also kept intact in the state of illiteracy and morbidity, stupidity and poverty. The environmentalist has no ability to read history. What did he learn from history that for millions of years prior to the rise of agriculture, the human population on the entire planet was less than five million souls, and lived most poorly without any kind of wealth at all, living hand to mouth, naked, without medicine and without any idea of homes? The population growth rate was close to zero not because they did not have enough food, but because they could not fight the invisible bacteria and virus and bacillus. Most people died tragic deaths at young age. The natural life expectancy of the human was about barely 28 years. Yes, you could keep the environment intact if you agree to live like that.

The most fallacious idea of the environmentalist is that economic development depends on the stock of natural resources. It does not. Natural resources did not increase to allow higher income. People just got smarter so that from the same old stock, they have been able to generate more value or more output. The same land from which Bangladesh used to harvest barley 6 million tons of grain in 1950 today produces over 22 million tons. It is utterly insane therefore to believe that the amount of food per acre is fixed. It is not.

Now, there is no question that there are criminals who knowingly dump toxic materials in the water stream. The problem is not development; it is the problem of law enforcement. There is also no doubt that emissions of toxic materials in the air are a danger. The solution is not abandonment of technology, but the opposite: the development of better technology that can achieve superior results with lower pollution. The market does provide incentives for better technology. So there are farms selling aerial generators that run on wind power to generate electricity, and those will become more and more feasible after the initial costly phase of prototype development is over and large scale production cuts down cost in massive degrees.

Most of all, politics has a duty. If the cost of reducing pollution is that some output must be restricted, or some currently unprofitable but clean source of energy must be subsidized, let the political will be in favor of that: subsidize clean technology. The choice is not between bad technology and no technology, but between bad technology and good technology. The political task is to spend on the promotion of green technology.




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