The Face of Genocidal Eco-Fascism

I am not exaggerating.

This is Finnish writer Pentti Linkola — a man who demands that the human population reduce its size to around 500 million and abandon modern technology and the pursuit of economic growth — in his own words.

He likens Earth today to an overflowing lifeboat:

What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides.

He sees America as the root of the problem:

The United States symbolises the worst ideologies in the world: growth and freedom.

He unapologetically advocates bloodthirsty dictatorship:

Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent a dictator that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. The best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and where government would prevent any economical growth.

We will have to learn from the history of revolutionary movements — the national socialists, the Finnish Stalinists, from the many stages of the Russian revolution, from the methods of the Red Brigades — and forget our narcissistic selves.

A fundamental, devastating error is to set up a political system based on desire. Society and life have been organized on the basis of what an individual wants, not on what is good for him or her.

As is often the way with extremist central planners Linkola believes he knows what is best for each and every individual, as well as society as a whole:

Just as only one out of 100,000 has the talent to be an engineer or an acrobat, only a few are those truly capable of managing the matters of a nation or mankind as a whole. In this time and this part of the World we are headlessly hanging on democracy and the parliamentary system, even though these are the most mindless and desperate experiments of mankind. In democratic coutries the destruction of nature and sum of ecological disasters has accumulated most. Our only hope lies in strong central government and uncompromising control of the individual citizen.

In that sense, Linkola’s agenda is really nothing new; it is as old as humans. And I am barely scratching the surface; Linkola has called for “some trans-national body like the UN” to reduce the population “via nuclear weapons” or with “bacteriological and chemical attacks”.

But really he is just another freedom-hating authoritarian — like the Nazis and Stalinists he so admires — who desires control over his fellow humans. Ecology, I think, is window-dressing. Certainly, he seems to have no real admiration or even concept of nature as a self-sustaining, self-organising mechanism, or faith that nature will be able to overcome whatever humanity throws at it. Nor does he seem to have any appreciation for the concept that humans are a product of and part of nature; if nature did not want us doing what we do nature would never have produced us. Nature is greater and smarter than we will probably ever be. I trust nature; Linkola seems to think he knows better. As George Carlin noted:

We’re so self-important. Everybody’s gonna save something now. Save the trees. Save the bees. Save the whales. Save those snails. And the greatest arrogance of all, save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another and we’re gonna save the fucking planet?

There is nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are fucked. Difference. The planet is fine.

Linkola and similar thinkers seem to have no real interest in meeting the challenges of life on Earth. Their platform seems less about the environment and more about exerting control over the rest of humanity. Linkola glories in brutality, suffering and mass-murder.

Now Linkola is just one fringe voice. But he embodies the key characteristic of the environmental movement today: the belief that human beings are a threat to their environment, and in order for that threat to be neutralised, governments must take away our rights to make our own decisions and implement some form of central planning. Linkola, of course, advocates an extreme and vile form of Malthusianism including genocide, forced abortion and eugenics.

But all forms of central planning are a dead end and lead inexorably toward breakdown; as Hayek demonstrated conclusively in the 1930s central planners have always had a horrible track record in decision making, because their decisions lack the dynamic feedback mechanism present in the market.  This means that capital and labour are misallocated, and anyone who has studied even a cursory history of the USSR or Maoist China knows the kinds of outcomes that this has lead to: at best the rotting ghost cities of China today, and at worst the mass starvation of the Great Leap Forward resulting in millions of deaths and untold misery.

Environmentalists should instead pursue ideas that respect individual liberty and markets. There is more potential in developing technical solutions to environmental challenges than there is in implementing central planning.

If we are emitting excessive quantities of CO2 we don’t have to resort to authoritarian solutions. It’s far easier to develop and market technologies (that already exist today) like carbon scrubbing trees that can literally strip CO2 out of the air than it is to try and develop and enforce top-down controlling rules and regulations on individual carbon output. Or (even more simply), plant lots of trees and other such foliage (e.g. algae).

If the dangers of non-biodegradable plastic threaten our oceans, then develop and market processes (that already exist today) to clean up these plastics.

Worried about resource depletion? Asteroid mining can give us access to thousands of tonnes of metals, water, and even hydrocarbons (methane, etc). For more bountiful energy, synthetic oil technology exists today. And of course, more capturable solar energy hits the Earth in sunlight in a single day than we use in a year.

The real problem with centrally-planned Malthusian population reduction programs is that they greatly underestimate the value of human beings.

More people means more potential output — both in economic terms, as well as in terms of ideas. Simply, the more people on the planet, the more hours and brainpower we have to create technical solutions to these challenges. After all, the expansion of human capacity through technical development was precisely how humanity overcame the short-sighted and foolish apocalypticism of Thomas Malthus who wrongly predicted an imminent population crash in the 19th century.

My suggestion for all such thinkers is that if they want to reduce the global population they should measure up to their words and go first.

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141 thoughts on “The Face of Genocidal Eco-Fascism

    • Interesting paper, and it is very good to know that there are people in the scientific community who do not see population as the problem.

      Another point is that you can have as much economic growth as you want as long as the CO2 is being taken out of the air (and other pollution cleaned up) which is becoming cheaper and more technically feasible. In 10-20 years I would expect that most large corporations bowing to public pressure will spend the money of their own will to fully offset CO2 and other environmental impacts. I think if humans want to live on this planet in the long run of course we must be responsible for our activities, but this “reduce the population” stuff with its focus on force and central planning will just make the problem worse as it will discredit environmentalism.

      • This Linkola guy is rather exceptional. There are nutcases in every movement; economically-minded people already have a bias against environmentalists because its bad for profits. Most are nothing like this, in fact many greens are so individualistic that they’re anarchists.

        Exhibit A: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Bookchin

        As for the “more people, more ideas” concept, this might interest you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ultimate_Resource

        The problem is when the state and the corporation collude to inhibit technological advancement, i.e. petroleum industry vs. alternative energy and transport systems.

        • The problem is when the state and the corporation collude to inhibit technological advancement, i.e. petroleum industry vs. alternative energy and transport systems.

          This is a massive problem.

          And yeah, I am familiar with Simon, and I agree with his work, his methodology, and it is of course gratifying seeing Ehrlich getting wronger and wronger as the years go by.

      • Like most people, I promoted the idea of controlling CO2. I started to study the mechanism of AGW and historical trends. To my surprise, earth had far HIGHER CO2 levels in the past and the temperatures remained LOW. Also, the earth had far lower CO2 levels yet temperatures were HIGHER. I compared IPCC predictions and found them to gross when compared to the actual. Donna Laframboise’s investigations revealed serious shortcoming with IPCC. It turns out there is serious lack of transparency including in sharing data, data “correction”, computer codes. lack of reproducibility of model results. And finally model results do not reflect the reality the world which they are supposed to do. In short present and past trends can not be explained by CO2 – Anthropogenic Global Warming. Whereas, factors like Galactic Cosmic Rays (in conjunction with solar activity) show far better correlation to climate change than CO2. The role of CO2 is at best very limited and CO2 induced AGW of the earth is nothing short of a scientific hoax.

        • CO2 does have a correlation with atmospheric temperature although I don’t think this relationship is fully understood, because the tree ring and ice core data shows a lag where temperatures have risen first, followed by atmospheric CO2. At the same time, I think keeping CO2 levels stable (i.e. leaving Earth the way we found it) seems like a very good insurance policy.

    • The problem you state in this paper is increased carbon based on economic growth (Steel production, concrete use – high carbon emitted). I think the Enviro Nazi, Linkola is talking about resource depletion, habitat destruction, extinction. If we are going to have a bigger population, we need more food, more fertilisers and more energy and water for irrigation. And the big key ingredient – Carbon.

      I am a climate skeptic, and no I am not sponsored by a Corporation.

      If we all just cramm ourselves into asian style high rises, take the transport system (elevator) to our factory below, and farm our oceans. we could quadruple our population.

      But if we want our little ranch with 5 acres and a SUV to pull our pet Pony around, eat foods from all over the planet, whilst dresing in our stylish garb, then we better become the 1%

  1. Pingback: The Face of Genocidal Eco-Fascism « Financial Survival Network

  2. I would say to him

    “We’re so self-important.”

    And some people are more fucked and arrogant than others, and you should speak for yourself to yourself that way the rest of us will be safe from your arrogance.

    Democracy is crap, but it is a shame we have nutters like him criticising it, it gives people like me a bad image. I advocate Personal Rule not Dictatorship in a structuralist state (like Stalin, Hitler and the US contemporary model).

  3. It is not population that is the problem, it is the political economic model. We have large corporations protected from competition by the state, who benefit from war and the millitary industrial complex. We have Big Pharma that profits from ill health caused by corporate food producers, we have the crazy way in which our cities are designed, our working hours are designed…none of them are rational or make any sense. Consumerism for its own sake, needs people who will buy things they do not need. State schools create furture consumers…imagine if they did not do that, we would have a Revolution on our hands…people would stop consuming crap and instead seek self employment, a million small businesses would spring up no need for huge loans with funny paper money.

    • Yes, I mostly agree — without the protections of corporate personhood, lobbyists, and the printing presses I think there would be a lot less pollution, habitat destruction, etc. These legal fictions not only prevent competition, they weaken accountability.

    • @Aziz
      Seems pretty clear this guy is a total nutcase. He is just a few instructional manuals and a bag of fertilizer away from being the next Unabomber. He is not representative of environmentalists and should be briefly considered and promptly dismissed just like any other fringe lunatic who has an axe to grind for his “cause.”

      @RaRA
      I agree with the problems you point out, but let’s not blame those evil corporations and the government and leave out the common denominator in all these issues: we the people. Sure, we can get swayed by advertising and other forms of propaganda into buying useless junk we don’t really need, but the truth is that people like buying stuff. We’re biologically programmed to desire the instant gratification that comes with drinking that soda or watching a movie.

      For better or for worse, most of our healthcare problems (predominantly heart/metabolic disease and cancer) are entirely preventable. Yet a majority of the US population is afflicted with some combination of these diseases. It is in our nature. You may attribute this mostly to brainwashing by the state and corporations, but I contend that a libertarian state would have the same problems. Businesses can still manipulate consumers with advertising, and I’m not sure why you feel that state schools teach children to consume. Maybe they do on some implicit level, but my experience makes me doubt that my public school education had much effect on personal consumption. In any case, do away with the state and corporate protections, and I doubt human behavior will change all that much.

      • Q
        People in the past were not mindless consumers, ok I agree that we did not have a true capitalist economy neither, but even so people generally did not attach their sense of self worth in the things that they owned. The debt based financial system needs constant growth and consumption….digital money sitting in an account idle gets Interest payments…it needs to be put to use, to anything, it does not have to be productive as long as people can be persuaded to spend money on whatever service or good. We need endless growth, which is not natural, anything organic stops growing at some point, otherwise it will be considered unhealthy for the organism. The economy only needs to be constantly growing because of the debt based system we live under.

        State schools prepare future workers and consumers, they do this by socializing us into a school culture, 30 pupils sitting in age segregated classes vying for the attention of one authority ‘the teacher’, they cannot even go to the bathroom unless the teacher gives them permission. They are constantly supervised and observed and kept busy with menial mostly useless tasks, they are even supervised at home with homework tasks. Age segregation means they are cut off from the past, their elders and they have a poor understanding of history. Their age peers have a big influence on them…they follow the latest fads engineered for them by corporate media companies. Overall they leave school with a deep need for others to approve of them, their sense of self worth and self esteem is dependent on others. Wear the wrong type of clothes and you are not hip, wear what your peers do and you are. Schools create dependent low self esteem consumers and workers who always look to the State, corporations or other authorities to give them approval and validation.

        • Very wise words. I was horrified when visiting the USA and I heard a back to school ad saying “if you don’t wear these jeans you won’t be cool, and somebody may throw food at you in the caferteria” No shit!

          I made riding recycled garbage scavenged push bikes cool. I said I ride this type of bike because ” I don’t give a FCUK!

          Being cool is having calm collectewd nerves. Most “Cool” people arer insecure types who need approval from others.

          When you swim against the tide that is cool.

          It does not sell brand names but gives a FCUK

          BTW I got an A+ in environmental science at a Government (Socialist left wing Green enviro type), and I argued against climate change. The teacher said I made good use of Primary sources with logical arguments.

        • “The economy only needs to be constantly growing because of the debt based system we live under.”

          Maybe I agree with this statement, but it does not necessarily relate to the issue of consumerism. Even in a non-growing economy, businesses will be vying with one another for customers. Isn’t that the whole point of the free market? To efficiently allocate capital based on the collective desires of individual consumers? Any business that fails to advertise successfully versus its competitors could see its market share eroded and eventually gets pushed out of the industry. I see consumerism as a phenomenon that arises because of the free market and not because of some scapegoat like the debt-based economy, which I agree can exacerbate the situation by creating consumption bubbles but is not the root of the problem.

          “State schools prepare future workers and consumers, they do this by socializing us into a school culture, 30 pupils sitting in age segregated classes vying for the attention of one authority ‘the teacher’, they cannot even go to the bathroom unless the teacher gives them permission. They are constantly supervised and observed and kept busy with menial mostly useless tasks, they are even supervised at home with homework tasks. Age segregation means they are cut off from the past, their elders and they have a poor understanding of history. Their age peers have a big influence on them…they follow the latest fads engineered for them by corporate media companies. Overall they leave school with a deep need for others to approve of them, their sense of self worth and self esteem is dependent on others. Wear the wrong type of clothes and you are not hip, wear what your peers do and you are. Schools create dependent low self esteem consumers and workers who always look to the State, corporations or other authorities to give them approval and validation.”

          I don’t see how schools are a major culprit in pushing this consumerist attitude on kids. I would bet that Buddy Rojek’s example was from an advertisement paid for by a private company (and I would guess he did not witness it on school property). The advertising that kids are exposed to hits them everywhere they go, and at least in my experience school was one of the few places where I wasn’t constantly bombarded with exhortations to buy the latest fashion and fashion accessories. I agree with your point that state schools prepare future workers and consumers, but is that not a manifestation of the competitive nature of the human experience? The one biological factor that drives humanity more than anything else is sexual competition. It is the juice that fuels people’s ambitions. And in a capitalist economy where financial success affords you the best mating choices, is it all that surprising that things have come to this point? Do you think that if we abolished state schools, or the government for that matter, that people would stop being consumers? That if we no longer had a debt-based economy, then companies would no longer have an incentive to advertise and push us to consume?

          Sure, people in the past were not mindless consumers, but the cat’s out of the bag now. We like consuming, and it doesn’t make us mindless. I thought the free market was all about efficient allocation of resources based on what people want. Where does the moral judgment on what is of value and what is not come into play? The argument for central planning or collectivism is that people don’t always know what’s best for themselves or for the group, and so there is a need to subvert individual interest for the common good. If this argument is to hold any water, then how can there be a judgment of consumer values based on one’s arbitrary perspective? I agree that a debt based financial system does incentivize consumption over savings. But take that away, and people will still consume, and they will still buy all sorts of crap that you don’t agree with. They might just buy a little less of it than before.

          What I take out of all of this is that good parenting is important, probably the most important thing of all. Teach your kids what you believe is of value. Teach them to treat others with respect and honesty and compassion. Follow the Golden Rule. Help them understand important issues like consumerism and the environment and the free market and let them make their own choices. Show them the problems behind the education system and how it molds them to fit a certain template. Give them the mental tools to buck that system. And let the chips fall where they may.

  4. I agree if this guy really thinks humans are a cancer why doesn’t he just go jump off a cliff.

    The thing that scares me is if enough people start believing this eco fascism. Then what?

    “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

    -Nietzsche

      • Bingo? “Jumping off a cliff” will not solve the problem that Linkola sees and therefore isn’t a reasonable course of action.

        • My bingo was at the Nieztsche quote, but seriously, if you genuinely believe overpopulation is about to have catastrophic consequences and you’re asking others to sacrifice for your beliefs it is only prudent that you should go first. Skin in the game.

        • That’s nonsense. If I think overpopulation is a problem and 99.9% of the world doesn’t, then by killing myself I accomplish nothing that works toward fulfilling what I believe is the right course of action for mankind, because 99.9% of the world won’t give a damn and will continue doing what it is doing. That’s analogous to telling the Republican senators that they shouldn’t accept pensions or their full paychecks or whatever they get as senators, because they’re supposedly fundamentally opposed to government largesse. Or here’s another one: that’s like getting upset with Goldman for taking advantage of the system insofar as they are a primary dealer, etc. etc. The critique has to do with the SYSTEM and not with individual participants.

        • I think it’s fair to criticise Republican Senators and Goldman Sachs for their various hypocrisies.

          I never specifically advocated jumping off a cliff (it’s a massively oversimplified example) I merely noted that if you’re going to make these kinds of specific recommendations you have to have skin in the game, otherwise you have no credibility.

          I advocate in dealing with the Malthusian constraints through technical solutions, therefore I invest in alternative energy. Skin in the game.

        • Aziz-

          What if you think the game is inherently screwy? Why should you have “skin in the game” in that case? Seems kind of silly–and reminds me of the “critiques” I receive from people who say I can’t complain about our leaders because I don’t vote. If anything, the opposite is true–by having “skin in the game” you’re giving CREDENCE to the game! If I think the game is based upon broken rules, then why on earth would I want to participate at all? I would prefer to attack it from without.

          -Mike

        • By skin in the game I just mean that you take both the upsides and downsides of your behaviour. Look at Prince Phillip — it is all well for him to stand at the sidelines saying that the world is massively overpopulated, but he had four children and if a full-blooded Malthusian solution was implemented it is highly likely to be part of the chosen 500 million. So would the overwhelming majority of the scientists who advocate these measures. I think it’s perverse to condemn a huge swathe of the world’s population when you know for sure you and your descendants will live (either because they are well connected or they meet eugenic criteria).

        • Aziz-

          I agree with you on this, certainly. But one can achieve a Malthusian end, and a drastic reduction of human population, through decentralized means. Which is to say, if technology is destroyed, then the Princes and whatnot of the world are not guaranteed survival. There is a big difference between wishing for a centralized power to reduce global population and a wish for depopulation to occur by means that are more in line with freedom and/or natural selection. And to be willing to take on whatever nature delivers (versus what human society delivers) IS having “skin in the game.”

          -Mike

        • Well this is hardly what Linkola is talking about — he’s talking about overt centralised coercion, physically forcefully killing people.

          I don’t rule out the kind of thing you’re talking about, because I think civilisation is actually very fragile (Mother Nature made it this way). No doubt, some kind of breakdown would cause a big downward population shock. Would that lighten the load on the Earth? Sure. But that doesn’t mean the Earth couldn’t support a much bigger population than we have now with the right kinds of social adjustment.

        • Aziz-

          Yes, I understand this Linkola guy is a fascist, and that isn’t cool. I was taking some of his points in another direction, and hoped you recognized that, because some of his points are valid.

          This statement of yours, however, is quite sickening: “But that doesn’t mean the Earth couldn’t support a much bigger population than we have now with the right kinds of social adjustment.”

          So I and everyone else on the planet should simply “adjust” to whatever the social organizational technique requires of me? That doesn’t sound much like freedom to me… :(

          -Mike

        • Mike, the nutter is advocating GENOCIDE! People like him are a threat to humanity. We propose he jump off a cliff because we are not flippantly inclined to murder. Who gives a rats arse whether Hitler was a hypocrite? He was a murdering bastard and if he jumped off a cliff we would all have been better off for it. It is people precisely like this that should never be given any sort of authority, and such an event should be considered a threat to innocent lives. I treat such people with extreme prejudice.

      • No, I’m talking about the free market. With the current pressures more and more people are wanting and needing different solutions, e.g. housing, energy, transport, etc. The free market allows for society to adapt to whatever is needed through the expression of supply and demand. As oil becomes more expensive solar (etc) becomes comparatively cheaper, etc. As population rises then architects and engineers have more incentive to come up with smart solutions that people want. As water becomes more scarce companies have more incentive to introduce things like atmospheric water generators and nanoscale desalination.

        • *Corporations also have an incentive to see that water becomes scarce, Aziz. Or should I the “free market” has an incentive.

          *We all know if you are good at the game why would you not ensure for yourself the best possible outcome (I.e) why would you not create a corporation?

          *Bechtel corp already tried to privatize water in Bolivia. That didn’t go so well.

          Anyway, I am a little shocked that you are actually stooping so low as to put this whack job, who should probably have all degrees he received revoked, on a par with the environmental movement so as to get a rise out of people that think like you. Your pandering may backfire and have unintended consequences. Consequences such as more people rejecting the fact that environmentalism is important. Despite your weak caveats, – (such as the promotion of solar which is costly and there is very little surface area to put it on, not to mention transmission issues) – i gather that most of your readers already think little of the environment judging by the comments and will focus only on the bad. Ridiculous hyperbole is one of the issues I have with post such as these and libertarian-esque writings in general.

          * I think you are also running into a chicken and egg problem, Aziz. You talk as if govt invented finance and business with the amount of blame you levy on govt, yet you also discuss freedom and the ability of business owners to come up with solutions. So where did the problem originate? Did it originate from business owners who had the sacred freedom to become as successful as they wanted and then used their influence to get the govt to collude? Or was it govt that knew how to operate business all along and is now trying to fleece us for more money?

        • Your pandering may backfire and have unintended consequences. Consequences such as more people rejecting the fact that environmentalism is important.

          Jon, my article and my comments are filled with references to real technical solutions to some of these challenges.

          Like this — http://phys.org/news/2012-05-lemons-lemonade-reaction-carbon-dioxide.html

          I do not reject some environmentalism, I just want people to separate out Malthusianism from environmentalism. It is undeniable that the Malthusian environmentalists do share some traits with Linkola — he just takes it further than anyone else. On the other hand non-Malthusian environmentalists have very little in common with Linkola.

      • And as the market dominates, people who think a market economy is silly, or governments are oppressive, or that technology reduces freedom… are left with no options, because the whole world is developed and under control.

        • Mike if you want to go and live a caveman lifestyle there are still plenty of places you can do this. I don’t like the idea of the whole world being under the control of modern civilisation, but thankfully it isn’t. Look at Canada. Look at parts of the USA, parts of Brazil, parts of Australia, parts of Eurasia. They are hugely wild. You could go and live in a cave and drink cave water and eat bats. I will defend your freedom to do that.

  5. “We have, in fact, two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practice, and another which we practice but seldom preach.” – Bertrand Russell

    This guy is a hypocritical idiot. and I agree with Thomas – he should jump off a cliff, if he’s so worried about burdening the planet.

    The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles…hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages…And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE ARE!
    We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either
    – George Carlin.

  6. Certainly, he seems to have no real admiration or even concept of nature as a self-sustaining, self-organising mechanism, or faith that nature will be able to overcome whatever humanity throws at it.

    2 points:

    1.) Nature may be self-organizing, but might decide to self-organize without us around
    2.) I don’t think faith should be on the table when deciding public policy

    That’s all I wanted to say, I don’t care about this guy of which I know nothing about, nor do I want to know more about.

    • I don’t think faith should be on the table when deciding public policy.

      There are no certainties in environmental policy beyond data, and we really have a very small window of environmental data. Linkola and the various less-extreme Malthusians have faith in the concept of human-induced catastrophe, I am more sceptical, I doubt we really have the capability to (in the long run) hurt nature whatsoever. Certainly, though, it is possible that nature will have us replaced, and we should be careful. And here is where data triumphs over faith — Malthusians like Linkola tend to have faith in central planning and its ability to achieve imperatives, I have data that proves that central planning is an ineffective strategy, because of capital misallocation. So I can say fairly confidently that market-driven technical solutions are much likelier to produce desired results than centrally-driven Malthusianism.

      • I don’t believe the problem is faith vs. faith. There are no certainties in anything, but there can be science in everything. And I’m all for doing science, investigating and doing what we think is best based on the available information and theories we have to date. That’s what humans have been doing from the beginning and that’s what they should do from now on – though even this is no guarantee that we won’t end up in a ditch, but it’s the best course of action. Note that I speak only in general terms (not about Malthusians – I don’t know who they are and where are they placed in the political framework, and what are their true goals). In my framework, all decisions are market driven – even those about dealing with the “tragedy of commons”, where market participants observe data and facts and decide to take collective action (even though this action doesn’t look like what someone would have previously thought of as individuals freely acting in markets).

      • I’ve just taken a look at this guy’s Wikipedia page (despite my promise not to). And noticed that as far as science goes, he has no education. He may be self-taught, but he may also very well be a crackpot. He talks about economic growth; in my view, currently the economic growth (unlike for example in the 19th century) is not free-market driven, but it’s basically a centrally planned (and directionless) pursuit embedded in the economic (and monetary) framework we’re using.

        • As far as I can tell he is self-taught.

          When I was 18, I experimented with a pretty hardcore Malthusian environmentalist mindset, nowhere near as hardcore as this guy, but from my own dealings with environmentalists and having experimented with Malthusianism, I do think it is completely plausible how the fairly-mainstream “there are too many people” view (informed by real although in my view misinterpreted data) can give way to this extremism.

          And in a global economic crisis where everyone is looking for a scapegoat, these kinds of views may grow and flourish. Best to confront them early, I think.

      • Your sophistry is clever, Aziz! Indeed, the sophists might even blush! ;)

        “There are no certainties in environmental policy beyond data, and we really have a very small window of environmental data. Linkola and the various less-extreme Malthusians have faith in the concept of human-induced catastrophe, I am more sceptical, I doubt we really have the capability to (in the long run) hurt nature whatsoever. Certainly, though, it is possible that nature will have us replaced, and we should be careful. And here is where data triumphs over faith — Malthusians like Linkola tend to have faith in central planning and its ability to achieve imperatives, I have data that proves that central planning is an ineffective strategy, because of capital misallocation. So I can say fairly confidently that market-driven technical solutions are much likelier to produce desired results than centrally-driven Malthusianism.”

        First sentence doesn’t square with the mountain of data available nor with the opinion of most of the scientists.

        Second sentence is a nifty strawman implying that most environmentalists are malthusians or that environmentalists are saying we can “hurt nature.” lol! Obviously the planet, certain animals, and most likely, rocks will be around but Humans may not be! I think the environmental argument is pretty simple: humans can endanger themselves and if we want to drink clean water and breathe fresh air we better stop doing certain things….

        Last paragraph is, again, a fictional argument crafted from your clever mind. Who are all these Malthusian-central planning lovers, Aziz? Why do you insist that most environmentalists want central planning or believe Malthus?

        • First sentence doesn’t square with the mountain of data available nor with the opinion of most of the scientists.

          Earth is over four billion years old. We have 50-100 years of direct observation, and maybe a few hundred thousand years of second-hand observations. That’s a pretty small window. I take quite a philosophical view on this, unlike the vast majority of scientists today I don’t think a 50 year window of direct observation is a sufficient basis to start making wide and sweeping judgments or start talking about certainties. It’s enough to make some informed guesses.

          Last paragraph is, again, a fictional argument crafted from your clever mind. Who are all these Malthusian-central planning lovers, Aziz? Why do you insist that most environmentalists want central planning or believe Malthus?

          Why do I insist most environmentalists want central planning? Well, look at Agenda 21 — that is a blueprint for environmentally-focussed command economies — http://www.freedomadvocates.org/articles/sustainable_development/public_officials_must_learn_about_agenda_21_20120307456/

          Influential Malthusian think-tanks populated overwhelmingly by environmentalists — http://www.populationmatters.org/solutions/

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galton_Institute

          Present-day population control programs — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_population_control#Present-day_practice_by_countries

          Scientists propose one-child policy in USA — http://azizonomics.com/2012/02/20/environmentalism-the-one-child-policy/

        • “Earth is over four billion years old. We have 50-100 years of direct observation, and maybe a few hundred thousand years of second-hand observations. That’s a pretty small window. I take quite a philosophical view on this, unlike the vast majority of scientists today I don’t think a 50 year window of direct observation is a sufficient basis to start making wide and sweeping judgments or start talking about certainties. It’s enough to make some informed guesses.”

          I think I will trust the scientists for now.

          “Why do I insist most environmentalists want central planning? Well, look at Agenda 21 — that is a blueprint for environmentally-focussed command economies — http://www.freedomadvocates.org/articles/sustainable_development/public_officials_must_learn_about_agenda_21_20120307456/

          Influential Malthusian think-tanks populated overwhelmingly by environmentalists — http://www.populationmatters.org/solutions/

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galton_Institute

          Present-day population control programs — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_population_control#Present-day_practice_by_countries

          Scientists propose one-child policy in USA — http://azizonomics.com/2012/02/20/environmentalism-the-one-child-policy/

          So therefore the environmentalism is a bad idea?
          For any given movement you can always find fringe elements that espouse crazy beliefs…

        • Arguments from authority will win you nothing here, Jon. I deal in data and facts, not pieces of paper or mortarboards.

          Non-Malthusian, non-coercive local environmentalism is an extremely important and good idea. Malthusian “environmentalism” is an extremely bad idea, because it makes consistently bad predictions and because its application seems to be almost universally counterproductive.

        • Arguments from authority – what?!

          It’s like Q said – when society is so technical and has so many different specializations one person cannot generally know all the variables or other specialities. We have to rely on experts and trust them at some point.

        • Exactly. I will always reserve the final decision to myself (if that is my decision to make), but I will first at least try to listen to the specialists and will not pass judgments on things I do not understand. Or at least, I will acknowledge that I do not understand those things and will postpone my final decision indefinitely, or try to understand those things better. And if I cannot postpone my final decision indefinitely, I will rely on heuristics – but in my mind specialists will always take precedence over any opinion I may think I have.

        • We have to rely on experts and trust them at some point.

          No, we don’t. We have to rely on facts and evidence.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

          I’d say the biggest problem with academia today is specialisation. Domain specificity is very blinkering, but worse it leads to the problem of arguments from consensus and arguments from authority, which are by definition pseudo-scientific (or worse). It is possible for a learned person to be a generalist even today in this era of hyper-specialisation

        • Sigh… Aziz I think you misunderstand the argument from authority and the point andrei and I are making. The argument from authority fallacy is simply taking anything an authority figure says at face value. More is going on here with the environmental data. For every piece of data you put up there is another piece that contradicts what you say – That’s the point: there is a lot of evidence that goes against what you say.

          The best you came up with to counter that was basically to say that these scientists that dont conclude the same thing you do didnt study the problem long enough.nSo who am I to trust? The money guy, John Aziz, or the scientist? It does come down to trust at some point, Aziz. Why would they lie? What’s the agenda? I can quite clearly see the agenda of the “free marketeers.”

        • Don’t trust me. Don’t trust scientists. Don’t trust free-marketeers. Don’t trust the Heartland Institute or the Koch Brothers or Al Gore.

          Trust the data. Trust the evidence. If the evidence is unclear then seek more. That is the basis of a scientific culture.

          And if a decision has to be made on balance (i.e. with unclear evidence) proceed with caution, because there will be hidden variables.

        • “Don’t trust me. Don’t trust scientists. Don’t trust free-marketeers. Don’t trust the Heartland Institute or the Koch Brothers or Al Gore.

          Trust the data. Trust the evidence. If the evidence is unclear then seek more. That is the basis of a scientific culture.

          And if a decision has to be made on balance (i.e. with unclear evidence) proceed with caution, because there will be hidden variables.”

          Ha! If you can’t trust the people that put out the data how can you trust the data!

        • Well that’s true if the data has been adjusted, but there is a lot of raw, clean scientific data out there in every field I am looking for it. We have to differentiate between data-gathering and data-interpretation. Science’s track record in data-gathering is excellent, however in interpretation it is much more subjective (and thus mixed).

          I make my own decisions — and although this approach is only for people with a lot of time and energy to do interpretation (and therefore to some degree I think folks with less time and energy to really research will always end up “trusting” one group or other) I encourage anyone with the time and energy to do their own interpretation, because it is really the cleanest way of doing things. Sometimes I will be proven wrong — by new or better data — and so will change my mind. And I always try and be aware that sometimes the data does not exist for me to make a judgment. Also I have to be aware that I naturally think like a philosopher/economist and not a mathematician or physicist or biologist, so of course my interpretation will often come out different, but I am happiest with this.

        • You may be happiest with this. But then you should present a disclaimer when presenting your own opinions. I mean, if you really want to feed at the trough of raw data and then opine, in most fields of science today, you need many, many years of scientific research and study. If someone was to use this method and opine about tens of disparate scientific domains, that person would need to be a universal genius of a type the world has never seen (I’m taking into consideration the degree of specialization in today’s science – that’s why I’m saying the world has never seen, because there have certainly been some universal geniuses in our past).

        • Andrei, you’re exaggerating. Taleb does what I do. It does not take genius, it just takes patience, time, energy, a lot of curiosity, and of course a preparedness to be wrong from time to time.

        • No, I don’t think I am. At best, Taleb is a philosopher of science not a scientist. He’d be wrong if he thought otherwise (I don’t know how Taleb thinks of himself, but I wouldn’t see that as a validation for anything). I was talking about what you specifically mentioned: feeding at the trough of raw data to be on equal footing with real scientists in those domains. You don’t have to do that, of course, but I myself would have a degree of respect (or doubt if trying to challenge them) for the opinions of those who are doing that (if I’m not).

      • When I was 18, I experimented with a pretty hardcore Malthusian environmentalist mindset, nowhere near as hardcore as this guy, but from my own dealings with environmentalists and having experimented with Malthusianism, I do think it is completely plausible how the fairly-mainstream “there are too many people” view (informed by real although in my view misinterpreted data) can give way to this extremism.

        “And in a global economic crisis where everyone is looking for a scapegoat, these kinds of views may grow and flourish. Best to confront them early, I think.”

        Wow! This is a non-sequitur, a false equivalence, god knows what else. Why do insist on comparing an uneducated nut job with the environmental movement and then imply that there is a strong tendency for the environmental folks to engage in violence? What on earth makes you think this will happen? It’s nuts! It’s hyperbole!
        It’s like me saying that anti-war protesters should be discouraged because a drug addled veteran created a website vowing to kill politicians that didn’t agree with his specific anti-war views. it doesnt follow.

        Spare me the pictures of the random whack jobs that have committed violence in the name of the environment and I’ll spare you the pictures of countries wracked by poverty due to the ” free market” – we both know some people are just assholes.

        • If we were talking violent environmental wack-jobs I would post stuff about Ted Kaczynski, and Anders Breivik. Linkola is not violent in action, but words — he is a philosopher, one who has taken modern Malthusian centralism to an extreme.

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  9. Does anybody have any concept on how big this planet is? Has anyone ever tried to walk (Not drive) through a state forest? Anybody been to the Australian outback?

    We mostly live in cities. We take the same arterial routes on the way to work; the same subway. We feel crammed in. We have a sense of overpopulation because of this conditioning.

    The biggest threat to our planet is habitat destruction, especially when we throw poor farmers and their crops in the middle of a threatened species ecosystem, i.e. when we decentralise the population, then impinge on the life of the vulnerable animals (Rhinos, Apes, Tigers, Panda’s etc) These animals are definitely threatened. It would be nice to set aside a substantial park for these animals, and we could double the world’s population, provided we just steered clear of these animals.

    Humans definitely have an impact on the environment, but we are aware now (At least in the West) so I have hope for threatened species. Consumers are too aware.

    I spoke to a wealthy Indian couple while skiing in the Himalayas. They said smaller families are becoming common in India. Females just don’t want to have as many children. As the West’s fertility is declining, and Japan will be literally extinct in 100 years, I see a natural population crash occurring anyway.

    BTW I passed by a Chinese herbalist the other day.. You could buy Lamb placenta face cream. I wonder what else was in that shop. Education is the key for the survival of all species on this oasis in space.

    This is a free market reponse to population control

    http://www.bioedge.org/index.php/bioethics/tag/Korea

    • There’s disagreement even with regard to what is actually desired. This guy should be defined not in terms of Malthusianism or ecology or whatever. He seems to be an outlier in the evolutionary race (slightly metaphorical). He simply hates humans/technology and loves fish and trees. And he’d like less of the former and more of the latter. I’m saying he’s an outlier because he’s removed from the desires of most members of the human species.

      • But seemingly not the desires of the global elite as described by the Georgia Guidestones which advocate:

        1) Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
        2) Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
        3) Unite humanity with a living new language.
        4) Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
        5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
        6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
        7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
        8) Balance personal rights with social duties.
        9) Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
        10) Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

        He sounds a lot like whoever wrote that.

        • What a ridiculous list of overwrought emotional appeals. I want to see them released in the middle of a jungle and left to fend for themselves (a la the conclusion of Rainbow Six). See how far their “perpetual harmony with nature” lasts when they are devoured by an apex predator.

        • I agree with Andrei, it is just a small fragment who believes this stuff. And I hope that eventually they will listen to sense.

    • and Japan will be literally extinct in 100 years

      Well, if we’re applying the Birinyi ruler ( http://www.zerohedge.com/article/laszlo-birinyis-2800-sp-prediction-september-14-2013 ) we might just as well go further and say that Japan will have a negative population, and will be populated by negative citizens. :)) (This comment is a joke).

      PS: Buddy, I’ve taken a look at Indonesia, and that Java island does seem a bit overpopulated – also considering that it’s mostly full of 3000+ meters volcanoes. Which seems to imply Earth may have a bigger carrying capacity than most would assume.

    • But if Malthus doesn’t matter, Buddy, why would one of your points be that people in India are aware and are having smaller families?

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  11. This is an interesting post, but it makes me wonder whether the free market would provide the best solutions to environmental problems.

    Humans are great at putting off what is necessary to satisfy short-term desires. We shun pain and seek pleasure, but it is pain that forces us to adapt and improve. The caveat with issues like climate change and resource depletion is that they posit abstract, long-term consequences that will not painfully intrude upon our consciousness to elicit a response until the situation is potentially dire. Now we don’t know whether by then it will be too late. At the very least, just as with our economy, it seems prudent to make changes now rather than waiting until things get worse.

    However, there is little natural market incentive to address climate change and problems of this nature. The incentive exists only insofar as the market participants find the issue sufficiently important so as to inform their financial decisions. I don’t think environmentalism has made much of a dent as far as markets go because most people just pay lip service to this stuff but aren’t prepared to back it up with their wallets. See: Prius owners who get it for the status symbol but fail to recognize the environmental costs such as its oversized battery.

    Just as politicians are content to kick the can down the road because the collapse will come after they have finished suckling at the corporate teat, then so might people behave in the same way. It’s easy to attack politicians as a group for being shortsighted, selfish, and corrupt, but ultimately, they are us. We are all driven by the same basic motivations. We think politicians can pull shenanigans because they aren’t held to account, but the rest of us tend to behave the same way. If I don’t have to worry about rising sea levels flooding my Florida condo until the next century, then what do I care about climate change? Nada, zip, nothing.

    If the future consequence of my present action is sufficiently far off into the future, then it essentially does not exist. I feel this might be the attitude that makes environmentalists seek more authoritarian methods to carry out their goals. They don’t consider this a free market vs central planning problem; they consider this a human problem. I think environmental lobbying simply allows them to achieve greater leverage for their money than acting through the market. From this perspective, their actions may be regarded as being more pragmatic than ideological.

    • The ecologicalness of a product or service is an important market characteristic. I want to buy products and services that minimise the environmental impact, and so do probably 50-60% of people. When the prices are close, people will choose the greener option. It’s an abstract quality, and it’s far-removed from people’s daily lives, but you have to remember that producers and businesses care too. Greener energy and products are just getting cheaper and cheaper. Eventually things like solar will easily eclipse oil in cost. They just need sufficient time and development. A lot of money can be made in green technology (yes, I know a lot of the spending will come from gov’t, but that is life) and more and more companies will look to profit. Priuses and all this early stuff is really bullshitty. As the century progresses we will get better and better at minimising the impact. I think we need to (while also respecting the market and individual liberty), if only as an insurance policy.

      • I think most people are fairly well-intentioned, and it is reasonable that we would want to go with the greener option when given the choice. But this premise rests upon the assumptions that the public is both informed about environmental issues and educated in the environmental impact of their consumptive choices.

        I just worry that because companies want maximum benefit at minimum cost, they are incentivized to market green-in-name-only products to an ignorant public. There’s so much misinformation out there, and people generally aren’t equipped to separate fact from fiction. We spend billions on nutritional supplements, most of which have no proven effect whatsoever, and yet many choose to distrust the scientific community on slam-dunk science like vaccines (and don’t even get me started on evolution).

        I’m a molecular biologist, but the research of the chemist who works across the hall is indecipherable to me. The more specialized our economy becomes, the less informed we are about everything else. This information asymmetry will always put the consumer at a disadvantage versus producers who employ cadres of experts to back up their propaganda. Maybe the savvy, educated, environmentally aware consumer can make the right choices, but I have little faith in the majority.

        In any case, it’s probably too late as far as climate change is concerned. Two hundred years from now, our descendants will be cursing our names and pissing on our underwater graves from their floating island-ghettoes. Waterworld will be crowned the greatest movie of all time.

        • Last sentence should read: Waterworld will be crowned the greatest movie of all time for its prescience.

        • I’m a molecular biologist, but the research of the chemist who works across the hall is indecipherable to me. The more specialized our economy becomes, the less informed we are about everything else.

          That’s why we need philosophers. But good ones.

        • We have good philosophers. Ted Kaczynski and Arne Naess come to mind immediately. Q says, “The more specialized our economy becomes, the less informed we are about everything else.” This is certainly true, but it extends to more than he anticipates: not just our choices as “consumers,” but our sphere of freedom is narrowed proportionately to how specialized and technical our social world becomes–can one really be “free” if one is ignorant of possible choices and their ramifications?

        • Q:

          In any case, it’s probably too late as far as climate change is concerned. Two hundred years from now, our descendants will be cursing our names and pissing on our underwater graves from their floating island-ghettoes. Waterworld will be crowned the greatest movie of all time.

          I’m not even completely convinced of this, there is a pretty good chance that if we can limit climate change at a couple of degrees that there may even be some benefits, for instance in mitigating or delaying the onset of a future ice age (a cycle which is very poorly understood).

          I just worry that because companies want maximum benefit at minimum cost, they are incentivized to market green-in-name-only products to an ignorant public. There’s so much misinformation out there, and people generally aren’t equipped to separate fact from fiction. We spend billions on nutritional supplements, most of which have no proven effect whatsoever, and yet many choose to distrust the scientific community on slam-dunk science like vaccines (and don’t even get me started on evolution).

          Yeah, that’s why I say the Priuses are a joke. Eventually we will get to a place where we need less CO2 in the atmosphere and all the Prius bullshit will be washed away by the real measurable impact of businesses, homes and governments buying carbon scrubbers, etc.

          Maybe the savvy, educated, environmentally aware consumer can make the right choices, but I have little faith in the majority.

          As I say, I am not even really sure this matters. Take the carbon out of the atmosphere and the CO2 faster than it is emitted (technologically feasible even today) and the problem goes away.

        • Mike A:

          If Ted Kaczynski is a good philosopher, why has no specific Malthusian catastrophe prediction ever really come true? Why did Ehrlich get blitzed by Simon? At some stage we have to recognise that Malthusianism is a dead end, probably due to hidden variables.

          Ted Kaczynski is just another typical mathematician; enamoured with models to the extent that he believes in them and their projections more than he believes in reality.

        • The guy featured here doesn’t even care about overpopulation (from our common POV) or Malthusianism. He’s just a rare case that got fixated on the idea that “nature” is an entity worthy of love and that humans are currently raping it (which he finds distasteful, so he’d like the problem resolved by culling the human population – except himself of course, so that he can remain admiring his fish and trees). I stopped short of calling him the next Unabomber (which he may very well be), because I’m interested more in what’s behind his skull. And certainly, his views may just be the exaggeration of tendencies present in all of us (biophilia).

        • Aziz-

          Have you read Ted’s work? The main crux of his critique isn’t so much about environmental degradation and a collapse of civilization (though this does play a part), but it is about the erosion of freedom due to technological-industrial society. It has very little to do with modeling and is rather very in touch with the mundane, daily experience of average human beings in a society in which large organizations dominate their existence.

          As far as Malthus, give it time. Very few predictions come true within the time frame designated by the predictors.

          -Mike

        • Yeah, I read Ted Kaczynski when I was 18. As I noted further up the thread, a while ago I was pretty strongly convinced of the entire Malthusian worldview, but a whole variety of things moved me to change. I will say that Kaczynski’s critique of modernisms and the technological society is actually quite illuminating, but as I became less convinced of the Malthusian projections he wraps it all up in I found the rest less worthwhile. And the fact he was motivated to violence by his ideology was totally self-defeating. He just ended up making environmentalists — and anyone who was even considering the issue of Malthusian constraints — look bad.

        • Aziz-

          You do realize that all major changes throughout history have occurred only because they were supported by violent revolutions, right?

          -Mike

        • You’re wrong — what you’re talking about is overt political change. Societies are molded and shaped by many forces, many of them very subtle.

          Consider the industrial revolution. Consider the invention of the automobile. The discovery of oil. Plastics. The printing press.

          I don’t believe current environmental challenges will be solved by overt political change, but instead by subtle economic changes.

        • Aziz-

          The automobile wasn’t a change, it was an extension or continuation of a trend. By change I mean a radical change in an unrelated direction, revolution. Oil, plastics, same thing. The printing press was sort of a radical change, but it occurred over such a long period of time that it cannot be compared to the Industrial Revolution, or the French or Russian Revolutions. And keep in mind that the Industrial Revolution was not without violence. The Luddites put up a very good fight. They get very little coverage in history textbooks and courses, especially when examined proportionate to their impact and resistance, etc. But what can you expect from an industrialised society? Any anti-industrialism gets short shrift, most certainly.

          Current environmental problems will not be solved by subtle economic changes. If time is running out, then how could subtle changes possibly be effective? (You might not believe time is running out, and I don’t believe you do given what you’ve said about Malthus) But disregarding environmental problems for the moment, the fact of the matter is that the world is overcrowded, and overcrowding has been shown objectively to cause stress, frustration, etc., and also that increased technical capability requires increased regulatory mechanisms. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the solution to the problem of technological society restricting my freedom is… greater technique. Reminds me of printing money to solve a debt problem.

          -Mike

        • I think your best point here is that modernity is shown to cause stress, fatigue, etc. You’re right about that. But is the problems of the modern society really proof of overpopulation? Aren’t you conflating lots of things? Overpopulation is strictly a function of carrying capacity — either the Earth and human labour can support the numbers, or they can’t. Your point about modernity is kind of relevant, but it’s not the same thing.

          At the end of the day if the problem is too much carbon in the air we can take carbon out of the air, that is technically possible today, it is just investment. If the problem is plastics in the ocean there is the technical challenge of getting the plastic to degrade (certain bacteria can do it today, so it seems soluble). If the problem is resource depletion or energy depletion we need to build more solar panels and perfect synthetic petroleum. And if the problem is the stress of population density then we need to spread out more. Huge swathes of the world are populated very thinly. I live in a very rural area, and there is lots of space and this is in the United Kingdom, which is hugely populated in comparison to America or Canada or the United States. When I lived in the cities I felt the pressure much more, so a lot of it comes down to lifestyle. Eventually with the free market people and society will probably be able satisfy their needs and wants.

        • Aziz
          “I’m not even completely convinced of this, there is a pretty good chance that if we can limit climate change at a couple of degrees that there may even be some benefits, for instance in mitigating or delaying the onset of a future ice age (a cycle which is very poorly understood).”

          Heh my last paragraph was mostly in jest.

          “Yeah, that’s why I say the Priuses are a joke. Eventually we will get to a place where we need less CO2 in the atmosphere and all the Prius bullshit will be washed away by the real measurable impact of businesses, homes and governments buying carbon scrubbers, etc.”

          Governments buying carbon scrubbers? Now that doesn’t sound like a free market solution to me ;-)

          “As I say, I am not even really sure this matters. Take the carbon out of the atmosphere and the CO2 faster than it is emitted (technologically feasible even today) and the problem goes away.”

          As you have frequently pointed out, the world can be unpredictable, and even our best models have the built-in failure to account for black swan events. Those who don’t buy into climate change like to point at climate models and criticize their simplicity and underlying assumptions. Certainly, there could be factors that would counteract rising temperatures of which we are unaware. But this argument goes both ways. There may be variables that will accelerate global warming once a certain threshold is reached. For example, we have observed the super greenhouse gas methane being released from underneath melting arctic ice in a potential positive feedback loop.

          Additionally, the resulting changes in weather patterns may not correlate linearly with increasing temperatures. Should we reach a point where global weather patterns have shifted, it could be impossible to return to a previous state even if you had an effectives means of lowering global temperatures. We are not a static system that is unaffected by starting conditions like a sealed container of water that can be boiled and cooled without any effect on its composition. Indeed, our planet is a dynamic system that depends on initial conditions. Sorta like a raw slice of filet mignon. Cook it up on a stove for 20 minutes, and it has been irrevocably changed into a juicy, sizzling slab of flavor. There is no going back.

          Ultimately, what do we know? We are observing climate change that appears to be at least partly man-made. We also know that humans are generally well adapted to the global climate in its current state. And finally, we do not know what our future climate will look like, only that it may be drastically different with more severe weather patterns. A significant percentage of the world’s drinking water is supplied by snow and glacial ice melt. If those sources recede, then water shortages will lead to droughts across the world. It is already happening in India. How will we fare? Only God knows.

        • Q, there are negative black swans and positive black swans hidden in everything. Who knows wat life on Earth might be like had we not started emitting the carbon post-industrial revolution or even post-Agriculture? Maybe we would be moving into a nasty, cold glaciation cycle. And possibly, we could end up being better adapted to the world post-climate change.

          As you hint, Pandora’s box is open. We are going to find out the effects of large scale cvilisation. Let’s hope for the best, and try and adapt for the best, and prepare for the worst (albeit in a manner that respects individual rights and freedoms).

        • Mike A
          Q says, “The more specialized our economy becomes, the less informed we are about everything else.” This is certainly true, but it extends to more than he anticipates: not just our choices as “consumers,” but our sphere of freedom is narrowed proportionately to how specialized and technical our social world becomes–can one really be “free” if one is ignorant of possible choices and their ramifications?

          Mike, you do bring up an excellent point. I was reserving my argument specifically to consumptive choice, but of course it can also apply to a person’s “sphere of freedom”. I think people naturally seek out those who are similar to themselves. Not everyone can be a free-thinker who yearns for exposure to different people and ideas. The stratification of knowledge and wealth can lead to a similar grouping of people. Scientists generally hang out with other scientists due to the nature of their work. Likewise with mechanics or pilots or whomever. These natural forces are somewhat unavoidable in our current socio-economic system. When most of our lives are spent at work or at home, how much opportunity is there to put ourselves out there and discover something new?

          Couple this with the advent of the internet, which allows us to find like-minded individuals without having to go out the door and risk contact with those who are different. Now you can sound off within your online intellectual enclave without ever being challenged in your views.

          But at the same time, I do feel that the internet can still be the great equalizer. The internet is the best tool we have to achieve awareness of possible choices and their ramifications. How else could we be having this conversation and gaining so many interesting perspectives? The increasing interconnectedness of people and ideas gives me hope. People just have to make that choice to delve into what they may initially find alien or repulsive. It’s up to them.

        • Your words ring so true. I hedged my bets. I built my retirement ranch high above the waterline.

          At least my decendants will make great capital gains, as the wealthy bid higher prices for the land above the waterline.

          I am a long term thinker.

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  17. When I first studied Thomas Malthus, I thought he was a huge hypocrite. He being an Anglican Vicar was obviously well placed socially. It is social prejudice masquerading as science. Why worry? Everybody dies it is inevitable, all our empires and achievements will end…why does it matter to any individual with a mortal life of 100 years maximum what the rest of humanity will do, or whether they will survive or not. It is nothing to do with anyone in my view, not my problem.

    However in the short term while we are alive we can see problems being caused by human beings and we cant try to alleviate these through not intrusive solutions. The State intervening in the economy is the biggest problem of all, it distorts everything so drastically that if this single cause was rolled back we would get a desired reset.

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  19. One thing to add: trees (or any bio item made from carbon) do NOT remove CO2 from the atmosphere except in a very short time frame – when it dies and gets eaten or burned it all goes back into the atmosphere. It is a cycle, and any appearance that it removes carbon is only because the observer is short-sighted. A far better approach is to be more efficient, so it takes less to do what we want, and this has been happening in many ways. Note that this takes more technology not less, so the Luddites have it exactly backwards.

    • The biosphere is temporary storage, yes. To keep storing the carbon, you have to maintain and grow the biosphere…. Or store is as charcoal (etc).

  20. While this guy is clearly a nutcase, there is still a small grain of truth in what he says. Malthus is always cited by those who believe there are no limits, but this is a finite planet.

    My considerable experience with the enviro movement here in the northwestern U.S. leads me to say that people like this guy are not the problem in it, far from it. The problem with the enviro movement here IMHO is that it is a victim of its own success. Money, lots of it, from well meaning individuals, and foundations (sometimes not quite so well meaning,) has spawned a vast bureaucracy of paid “environmentalists,” who, like any bureaucrats, are far more devoted to their own continued growth and remuneration than to saving anything other than themselves.

    The “Wilderness Society” in the U.S. is to wilderness about like the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea is to democracy. Sadly, there are many other examples as well…..

    Perhaps it was inevitable. Thanks for your efforts, Aziz, I’ve said it before and will say it again, your writings are way better than most pay subscription services. And you keep it up….thanks again.

    • Nice analogy. And thanks, Spruce. If I was 40 years older than I am, this would probably be a paid newsletter like Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. Luckily for all of us, I am young and enjoy being a Guest Poster on Zero Hedge.

    • Hi Spruce, Love the North West USA. My circular USA trip started and ended in Seattle. Your Red Wood forrests are world class.

      I agree with you. Not for Profit NGO type organisations are the new cancer. Most management builds a cosy empire. I am seeing in Australia the emergence of grass roots organisations. People are basically saying. “Look I love the Cambodian village, pay me direct and I will give the money direct. I know i am getting a funded airline ticket, and accomodation, but the money is going direct. Big organisations cost money!”

      I worked for a NGO once. When the Board appointed a builder with no formal tender process, I lost respect for their Tax free status. How could you be confident that the builder was not giving kickbacks to the Board? Where there is smoke there is fire I say. Guilty until proven innocent with a robust corporate governance and audit system I say.

  21. this website takes forever to load. waiting form s2.wp.com to respond of some shit. it was frozen until that was resolved for like a minute or something. i was going to read what you had to say, but now fuck that. i’m annoyed. it’s probably about ecosystem/economic bullshit about how population reduction is bad. well that ain’t so bad if you think about it terms of finite resource planet. there is only so much stuff. more people. less stuff for each person.

    • You don’t know better than nature, you don’t know what the optimal population of the planet is, anything you come up with will be a guess, and virtually all attempts to implement any such thing amount to central planning, which just misallocates capital and labour and screws up society.

      • Things are not black and white. As I’ve previously stated, I wouldn’t call central planning individuals getting together, looking at facts through the lens of the best scientific theories we have to date, and then taking action – while also maintaining a degree of flexibility and humbleness to account for the unknown unknowns, while also being careful not to become removed from the system as a whole (thus turning into real central planning). Note that as always, I only speak in general terms – I don’t care about what person did what when, nor do I talk about this individual who is just a demented psychopath who only wants to impose his personal desires upon the entire world population.

        • It’s not just unknown unknowns, it’s the size and scope of the known unknowns that is probably the biggest problem in ecology.

          I don’t have any problem with action, I just believe that action needs to respect individual liberty.

        • Your belief is noble. But I on the other hand, have no a priori beliefs, and will just look at the whole of the complex system in trying to understand it, while also trying to expand the other people’s knowledge with my own insights so that each person will be able to take better and more informed decisions.

        • It’s not even an a priori belief — it’s a heuristic — I just understand that historically that regimes that have trashed individual liberty have trashed everything.

        • Then this is useful. But only insomuch as people understand what this means, how it relates to the situation at hand, and what history has to teach us. Which requires understanding the situation at hand and being able to comprehend it as a heuristic for it to have value according to my above stated philosophy.

  22. Jesus, guys, you don’t understand! LINKOLA IS ALSO ON YOUR SIDE IN YOUR FIGHT AGAINST THE “NWO” GLOBALISTS! You would need to pick up the things where he supports your agenda and not focus only on the sides, which you disagree. I’m a countryman of Linkola and have been following him for years, even participated a briefing, where he was called as a keynote speaker. The bottom line to you is to say: just like you guys, LINKOLA IS THE ONE, WHO IS MOST HATED BY OUR GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ELITE! He is the one who criticizes their actions and has an alternate view to offer. Yes, he is a radical and has these extreme views, but we are talking about an 80-year-old lonely fisherman, who does not have any fearful political power or whatsoever. Yes, he became the leading figure of the so called “Green Movement” in the 1980s, but it’s crucial to understand, that he has been severely OUSTED from that movement, when it started to transform into a “salon eligible”, even neoliberal political party. Linkola is the one who most severely criticizes our present government and is severely hated by the establishment media and elites. He is against of the present new world order and just like Max Keiser, Peter Joseph, P.J. Watson, or Alex Jones, he firmly resists the present policies concerning the globalization of the world, European Union, sloppy immigration policies, global financial system, and so on. He would also like to “ECONOMIZE” in the true sense of the word. Don’t get misled, if he uses harsh rhetoric and wants to awake people with extreme examples – his basis, background and ideas about the present state of the world is largely the same as yours. THIS is what strikes me much more – the similarities with you guys – than the 5-10% differences, which are now focused. Focus on the 90-95% and discover more, guys! You’ll find so much more from Linkola, which will fully support your agenda!!

    p.s. Read more on Linkola i.e. at http://www.penttilinkola.com. Especially good title is “Johdatus 1990-luvun ajatteluun”; Porvoo: WSOY, 1989. Not sure if there are translations for so far (use google?), but it’s a particularly good essay collection.

    • Our only hope lies in strong central government and uncompromising control of the individual citizen.

      It is hard to find an alliance with someone with expresses that sentiment, Jaakko, however “outside the norm” they are.

      • Our only hope is a weak decentralized government with minimal control over the individual. This is the only form of government that will allow humans to evolve into their full potential as nature or God intended. The biggest falsehood of environmentalists beliefs are that by making humans the enemy of the natural order they ignore the fact that humans are as much a part of the natural order as the birds and the trees are. Nature wants humans to flourish and evolve just like every other creature on earth does. So when an environmentalist advocates the use of government force to stop the evolution of humans as nature intended, they are anti nature, anti earth and anti human.

        • I don’t think any reasonable person could claim he knows what nature or God intends. Environmentalism in its benign form is just a cultural movement just like any other – whether you ascribe to its beliefs or not, this is up to every person. There are many types of environmentalist thinking, but after taking a gander at Wikipedia’s entry for environmentalism, most seem much more reasonable than claiming to do what one person believes is “nature”‘s or God’s will.

        • Environmentalists like Linkola are the logical outcome of even the most “benign” environmentalists agenda. Just look at Global Warming. Despite the fact all off the dire IPCC climate predictions have not come about like: a steep rise in temps with the rise in CO2 (temps have not gone up since 1998) or a rise in the ocean levels wiping out tropical islands (no islands have been submerged) or the death of polar bears (polar bear populations have increased) environmentalists still want to use the force of government to shut down cheap energy sources like coal and oil. Instead of cheap and abundent energy like coal and oil they want government to use tax payer dollars to pay for and force people into using high cost, inefficient and bird killing energy sources like wind turbines. Oil and coal are a natural product of the earth, wind turbines are not. Nature is telling us something when a new study found that wind turbines not only kill a lot of birds, they cause global warming

  23. Pingback: The Face of Genocidal Eco-Fascism « Stop Making Sense

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    • I for one don’t even particularly care about the subject – I was merely arguing from a philosophical standpoint. And this may be important, particularly as many people don’t even know what “environmentalism” is (i.e. they don’t know what they’re talking about). It is funny that some anti-environmentalists here actually exhibit even more dangerous or unpredictable forms of environmentalist thinking (doing what “nature” wants and intends for us, or much of the same – doing what God wants). So basically I was arguing for a quality conversation on the topic. We can’t have a quality conversation when we don’t know what we’re talking about – and the guy featured here has little if any connection to the many topics bandied about here (he’s just an informed person having certain personal desires and biases that he’d like to be imposed onto the whole world population, just because he so desires).

  25. Pingback: The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 1271

  26. Pingback: Malthusianism: Not Just Wrong, but Dangerous | Magic Blue Smoke

  27. Pingback: Free Market Ecology « azizonomics

  28. Pingback: Guest Post: Free Market Ecology » A Taoistmonk's Life

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  30. Pingback: social animals and cultural evolution of herds « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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