Move over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there’s a fresher, younger face replacing you as the poster child of anti-capitalism. Her name is Greta Thunberg.
Ms. Thunberg is the newest high-profile global climate change warrior. On Monday, the 16-year-old Swedish activist addressed the world via the United Nations Climate Action Summit. There, she gave the following condescending statements:
“You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? … You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”
A tearful Thunberg continued her scolding of world leaders, saying, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”
Climate activist Greta Thunberg, photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Ah ha! There it is, the real culprit lurking behind this pro-climate façade — the evils of money and eternal economic growth.
Now, this is The Deep Woods, which means we peel back the outer layers of an issue’s onion skin to get into the core of what principles are animating thoughts and actions. Here, I think Ms. Thunberg is a mere tool used by those whose real agenda isn’t trying to make the climate safer; it’s those who think “eternal economic growth” is somehow the real existential threat to humanity.
Now, I do not doubt Ms. Thunberg’s sincerity. I suspect she fully believes in what she’s saying. And, I am not going to argue about the science of global climate change, as I am willing to concede for the sake of argument that the planet is warming and that human activity is the cause. I don’t know that to be true, but I am willing to stipulate it could be true.
The question then is how best to combat that kind of challenge. Do you set out to have governments around the world use physical force to compel humanity to curtail eternal economic growth?
Or, do you opt for a technological solution to the problem that’s motivated by the desire to solve problems — and to make a profit while doing so?
As a free-market warrior and defender of profits, technology, human ingenuity and capitalism, the political/economic system that best fosters these virtues, you know my answer to this question. Yet perhaps an analogy here would help illustrate the viewpoint even better.
If the world were facing a global famine, what would be the better solution: Tell people to reduce their caloric intake by half so that you make the scarce supply of food last, or employ technological solutions to help grow more crops, raise more livestock and create new sources of supply?
The answer is obvious. Yet, unfortunately, the same logic isn’t applied to climate change issues.
In a new piece at Reason.com, editor-at-large Nick Gillespie writes the following regarding these alternate ways of addressing this issue:
“There are only better and worse ways to deal with coming changes. Contra Thunberg, the better ways don’t demonize economic growth as a problem but as a solution. ‘The most inexorable feature of climate-change modeling isn’t the advance of the sea but the steady economic growth that will make life better despite global warming,’ writes science journalist Will Boisvert. The environmental Kuznets curve, by which countries get wealthier and their citizens demand a cleaner environment, is the rule, not the exception. Such a dynamic is predicated upon economic and technological innovation that would be almost impossible under the sort of regulations promulgated by Green New Dealers and activists such as Thunberg…”
The environmental Kuznets curve referred to here basically says that once a country’s per-capita income reaches a certain elevated level, its citizens begin to demand such values as cleaner air, cleaner water, etc. According to the theory, widespread economic growth does initially hurt the environment, but after a certain level of growth takes place (i.e. growth that makes a country richer), that country can focus on correcting any environmental problems.
Another way to say this is that countries that get richer — and the only way to do that is via capitalism — can focus less on the basic necessities of life and more on loftier issues.
The converse of this is that countries with less capitalism, more government control and less economic growth will not get rich enough to begin caring about this issue. And, anyone who has been to a second or third-world country will know precisely what I am talking.
The bottom line here is that the only real solution to technological problems such as climate change (assuming that it is, indeed, a real problem) are technological solutions. And the only way to foster and promote technological solutions is to cultivate a climate conducive to those solutions — a climate where profits are justly sought and where innovators can be rewarded for their efforts.
In other words, pursue a political climate change toward more capitalism and more economic growth and away from those who would like to curtail eternal economic growth.
“It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know the sort of disease a person has.”
— Doug McGuff, “The Primal Prescription: Surviving The ‘Sick Care’ Sinkhole”
One of my favorite thinkers in the field of exercise science is Dr. Doug McGuff. I highly recommend his book “Body By Science,” co-authored by John Little, as it is the absolute best book on exercise I’ve ever read on how to properly train your body for maximum muscular development, strength and cardiovascular fitness. In this quote, Dr. McGuff reminds us that if we want to treat an ailment of any sort (medical, psychological, even financial) it’s more important to know the person who has the problem rather than knowing about the problem itself.
For example, if you are a person who has a problem saving enough money, it’s not the lack of savings that’s the problem, it’s your spending habits. Whatever problems you have in life, the solution starts with knowing what kind of person you are. Often, changing bad habits that lead to a problem is a more effective solution than simply treating that problem’s symptoms.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.