Ron Bailey: The Anti-Malthusian

 

As conservatives, we’re dispositionally inclined to worry about the things we might lose — or have already lost — and it sure feels like we’ve been on the losing side of things of late. And, heck, even if all goes well in 2016, it’s going to be devilishly difficult to undo the damage that’s been done. In short, there’s no shortage of legitimate reasons to feel down about some very important issues.


On the other hand, there’s also plenty of reason for optimism and hope, and Ron Bailey’s new book The End of Doom showcases some of the most promising trends of the next century. Specifically regarding population growth, access to commodities such as food and energy, medical advances, and the likelihood that we’ll be able to adapt to innovate our way out of the challenges of Climate Change.

Bailey’s thesis is that the Malthusian doom-mongers have everything wrong because we’re (largely) past some major resource bottlenecks and should be able to innovate our way out of new ones. Unprecedented population growth is already largely behind us, so those susceptible to fecundophobia should chill and stop carping about those who choose to have larger families. Moreover, we’ve already found better ways to grow groups and harness energy ever than before — and have seen prices for both plummet in the last few years — and Climate Change is likely to be mild enough to be manageable through innovation. If we got through the problems of nearly-exponential growth without the technology and knowledge now available to us, we should be able to do quite well in the near future.

Among Bailey’s biggest concerns are that we’re going to fail to realize some improvement through over-caution and unnecessary intervention. It’s at least plausible — and perhaps likely — he says, that more lives would be saved by having fewer controls on drug development: while a handful of additional people might die from unknown complications, many more would likely live due to access to strongly-suspected, but-not-wholly-conformed benefits awaiting full regulatory approval. Likewise, many people’s misplaced fears of nuclear energy blind them to its usefulness while making its proliferation needlessly expensive. We need to freedom he said, to experiment, take some risks, and find new solutions. As he says in his Cato interview:

There is no trial without error. We learn from failure, not from success.

Let’s allow people to go make some errors. We’ll all be better off for it.

There are 14 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Barkha beat you to this but without as much commentary.

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: As he says in his Cato interview:

    There is no trial without error. We learn from failure, not from success.

    Of course, technocrats can just as easily use this sort of aphorism to justify their own tinkering. Just look at how they defend Obamacare with precisely this sort of rhetoric.

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Well, sometimes that happens. :)

    • #3
  4. The Forgotten Man Inactive
    The Forgotten Man
    @TheForgottenMan

    Take a look at this study http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/6/1237/2015/esdd-6-1237-2015.pdf reported in The Daily Caller today. Sorry I don’t know how to insert link.  It is well worth a copy and paste though. No worries mates.

    • #4
  5. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Misthiocracy: Of course, technocrats can just as easily use this sort of aphorism to justify their own tinkering. Just look at how they defend Obamacare with precisely this sort of rhetoric.

    Well, they should be free to tinker with their money.

    • #5
  6. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    This is The End of Doom.

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @MisterMagic

    Carrying on the fantastic work of Julian “People are the Ultimate Resource” Simon, the original Doomslayer,

    • #7
  8. profdlp Inactive
    profdlp
    @profdlp

    “…and the likelihood that we’ll be able to adapt to innovate our way out of the challenges of Climate Change…”

    I’ve already done that.  I turned on my air conditioner.

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OldBathos

    Mister Magic:Carrying on the fantastic work of Julian “People are the Ultimate Resource” Simon, the original Doomslayer,

    Spot on. The Malthusians lost this debate thirty years ago and yet there is still a market for their buffoonery.

    John Holdgren (one of the people Simon bet) is a Presidential science advisor (!?)

    Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga (famous for claiming that the Jews were hyping the priest sex scandals to take attention away from their mistreatment of Palestinians) is apparently the pope’s lead guy on climate and inexplicably made Malthusian nutball Hans Joachim Schellnhuber chief advisor.  (The guy thinks earth’s population should be reduced to 1 billion ASAP and he is not a climate scientist.)

    Fear? Ignorance? Some odd psychological need? I really don’t get the appeal of the doomsday cults.

    • #9
  10. hcat Member
    hcat
    @hcat

    Are these guys in contact with PERC
    and FREE in Bozeman, and the Breakthrough Institute in Berkeley? All of those doing remarkable stuff. H

    • #10
  11. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Bought this book at Porters, Tom, and am nearly all the way through it!

    • #11
  12. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    At the risk of being difficult…

    Liberals believe that we are doomed because they fail to see the ways, both technical and behavioral,  that human beings can and do adapt and innovate when circumstances change…

    Conservative believe we are doomed because they do see the ways, both technical and behavioral, that human beings can and do adapt and innovate when circumstances change… SSM, ART, sex education, birth control?

    • #12
  13. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Kate Braestrup:At the risk of being difficult…

    Liberals believe that we are doomed because they fail to see the ways, both technical and behavioral, that human beings can and do adapt and innovate when circumstances change…

    Conservative believe we are doomed because they do see the ways, both technical and behavioral, that human beings can and do adapt and innovate when circumstances change… SSM, ART, sex education, birth control?

    Rush Limbaugh has mentioned this a few times, that a substantial portion of humanity believes that we’re living in the end times, and has believed this for centuries, if not millennia.  The reasons for the end vary all over the place.

    Kate, were you able to meet a few Ricochetti at your recent book signing?

    • #13
  14. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Randy Weivoda:

    Kate Braestrup:At the risk of being difficult…

    Liberals believe that we are doomed because they fail to see the ways, both technical and behavioral, that human beings can and do adapt and innovate when circumstances change…

    Conservative believe we are doomed because they do see the ways, both technical and behavioral, that human beings can and do adapt and innovate when circumstances change… SSM, ART, sex education, birth control?

    Rush Limbaugh has mentioned this a few times, that a substantial portion of humanity believes that we’re living in the end times, and has believed this for centuries, if not millennia. The reasons for the end vary all over the place.

    Kate, were you able to meet a few Ricochetti at your recent book signing?

    I did—and it was really fun! (Sangria was involved).

    • #14
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.