In a changing world, it seems that at least one thing is certain: If current trends continue, environmentalist predictions about the future will continue to be wrong. Yet unfortunately, policymakers continue to heed their warnings, passing foolish regulations to ward off the “impending catastrophes.”
A new report issued by the World Wildlife Fund says that if current trends continue, the earth will be too small to sustain humanity. “Pressures on the earth’s natural systems are both predictable and dire,” according to the Living Planet Report 2006.
Environmentalists have been making such wrongheaded—anti-growth, anti-technology—predictions at least since Rachel Carson launched the movement with her 1962 book Silent Spring. There she warned of an impending cancer epidemic that would result unless we stopped using many manmade chemicals. It didn’t happen.
Paul Ehrlich warned in 1969 that American life expectancy could be reduced to only 42 years by the 1980s because of an epidemic of cancer caused by modern chemicals and pesticides. It didn’t happen.
In the 1970s Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors published the Limits to Growth in which they warned that—if policymakers didn’t limit growth—the world would run out of resources and suffer economic collapse. They even developed an elaborate computer model to prove their point. But it didn’t happen.
In the real world, resources increased and economies expanded—particularly in places that allowed the most economic freedom. In those places, human ingenuity produced wealth, discovered new resources, and developed technologies that improved human well-being.
Unfortunately, growth has not been as great as possible because it’s limited by at least one thing—foolish anti-growth policies advocated by environmentalists. We could see greater growth were commerce not limited by government impediments to free-trade, bans on vital chemicals and other technologies, regulation on energy sources, and campaigns against agricultural biotechnology.
If any of the WWF dire predictions come true, it’s likely to be a result of their foolish anti-growth policies.