Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day -some cogent counterpoints to the standard green koolaid

The first thing I remember about Earth day were reports of some cases of histoplasmosis in a group of well meaning well-meaners who breathed in a bunch of fungal spores when they set out to clean up their little portions of the earth.

Dr. Don Boudreaux,chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, submits this essay on what he is grateful for on earth day. He sums up his thoughts in this closing paragraph:

I am, in short, thankful for private-property markets that are the main driving force behind these (and many other) anti-pollutants -- a force so powerful that we today enjoy the incredible luxury of being able to worry, should we so choose, about very distant and very speculative forms of environmental problems such as species loss and global warming.

Dr. Mark Perry,economics professor at University of Michigan,wrote this editorial explaining what has driven the cleaning and greening of things since the 1970s birth of Earth Day. (hint it was not Al Gore). He ends his essay with this answer to what has made the earth greener.

.. capitalism has. Through wealth generated by the free market, we have enough resources to move beyond the subsistence economies that damage the environment, enough disposable income to fund clean-up programs, enough wealth to scrub and polish industry.

Only in advanced economies can the technology needed to recycle hazardous waste or to replace dirty coal-fired power plants with cleaner gas or nuclear plants be developed. That technology cannot be produced in centrally planned economies where the profit motive is squelched and lives are marshalled by the state.

There's nothing wrong with setting aside a day to honor the Earth. In fairness, though, it should be complemented by Capitalism Day. It's important that the world be reminded of what has driven the environmental improvements since Earth Day began in 1970.


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