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By Steven Milloy
October 23, 2008
If you need more evidence that the Greens intend to destroy our standard of living, you need not look further than the Oct. 18 issue of New Scientist magazine -- the cover of which reads, “The Folly of Growth: How to stop the economy killing the planet.”
The issue features eight articles that New Scientist editors believe justify their editorial entitled, “Why economic growth is killing the planet and what we can do about it.” Presented below the editorial is an ominously drawn graph purporting to show how global temperatures, population, carbon dioxide concentrations, GDP, and loss of tropical rainforest and woodland have dramatically spiked upward since 1750, and how species extinctions, water use, motor vehicle use, paper consumption, fisheries exploitation, ozone depletion, and foreign investment spiked during the 20th century. The editorial concludes that “the science tells us that if we are serious about saving the Earth,” economic growth must be limited.
In the first essay, University of Surrey (UK) sustainable development professor Tim Jackson doubts renewable energy technologies will work without reduced consumption. Rather than buying an energy efficient TV, you ought to consider not buying a TV at all, he says.
Next, prominent Canadian Green David Suzuki says that nothing is more important than the environment and that we need to lower our standard of living. You need to judge your standard of living by “quality of life, your relationships with other people and your community,” Suzuki says. Stores filled with food, record longevity and wealth is an “illusion,” he asserts, because we’re using up our children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance.
University of Maryland ecological economist Herman Daly claims that we’ve passed the point where economic growth provides benefits and that we need to “transform our economy from a forward-moving aeroplane to a hovering helicopter,” but that such a “steady-state” economy “doesn’t have to mean freezing in the dark under a communist tyranny.” In trying to explain his latter comment, he says that “Most of the changes could be applied gradually, in mid-air,” by which he apparently means replacing the income tax with a tax on goods to “encourage people to use them sparingly.” Although he acknowledges that this regressive policy would hurt the poor, he says taxes could be used to provide welfare.
James Gustave Speth -- Yale University dean, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and former adviser to President Jimmy Carter -- says that green values stand no chance against market capitalism. Economic growth “creates barrier to dealing with real problems,” he says. While we need to spend more money on social services and environmental protection, he is “not advocating state socialism, he claims, but rather a “non-socialist alternative to today’s capitalism” whatever that means.
Andrew Simms of London’s New Economics Foundation describes as "disingenuous" the argument that global economic growth is needed to eradicate poverty. He says that “we have to overcome knee-jerk rejection of the ‘R’ word -- redistribution” and that we need a “Green New Deal” that controls capital and raises taxes to create environmental jobs.
Susan George of the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute advocates developing a World War II-type mentality toward life including rationing, “victory” or home gardens and the government run by wealthy elites who would work for a salary of $1 per year.
London Metropolitan University “environmental philosopher” Kate Soper says that the tourist industry, food service industry, dating services and gyms are evidence that we need to shift to a less work-intensive economy. “Of course, we would have to “sacrifice some conveniences and pleasures: creature comforts such as regular steaks, hot tubs, luxury cosmetics and easy foreign travel,” she says, but “human ingenuity will surely contrive a range of more eco-friendly excitements.”
What’s missing from the New Scientist compilation of Green-think, of course, are essays from Thomas Malthus, Karl Marx, and, perhaps, Al Gore. Malthus, a prominent nineteenth century economist, famously predicted that a geometrically expanding human population would outpace the arithmetically expanding food supply. Unable to foresee the improvements in agricultural technology, he turned out to be entirely wrong.
Karl Marx could have chimed in with his communist slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” -- where the government gets to determine what your needs are. As implemented in the Soviet Union and Communist China, Marxism resulted in the starvation and murder of perhaps more than one hundred million of people and the political and social repression of the survivors.
Al Gore could have contributed an essay reassuring Green elites that none of this wealth redistribution and standard of living contraction would affect those who, like him, can already afford home indoor heated pools or those who can could afford to spend $65,000 and three weeks jetting around the world with the World Wildlife Fund.
The New Scientist essays reveal how the Greens aim to eviscerate life as we know it. They want to take us from 200 years of “more-bigger-better” to a future of “less-smaller-worse.” Won’t happen, you say?
With Barack Obama leading in the polls, one of his advisors recently issued an ultimatum to Congress regulate carbon dioxide emissions in 18 months or an Obama EPA will do it unilaterally. And then there’s Obama’s famous colloquy with “Joe the Plumber,” where he said he was for redistributing the wealth. And let’s not forget Obama’s comment in May that, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times…”
Obama has said he’s for economic growth, yet he’s willing to force-feed us Green policies that would crush it. And as it turns out, that’s what the Greens are really after in the first place.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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