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.

  1. MLH Inactive
    MLH

    Barkha beat you to this but without as much commentary.

    • #1
    • July 28, 2015, at 9:43 AM PDT
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  2. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    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
    • July 28, 2015, at 10:38 AM PDT
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  3. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Well, sometimes that happens. :)

    • #3
    • July 28, 2015, at 10:41 AM PDT
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  4. The Forgotten Man Inactive

    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
    • July 28, 2015, at 10:42 AM PDT
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  5. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    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
    • July 28, 2015, at 11:00 AM PDT
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  6. The Question Inactive

    This is The End of Doom.

    • #6
    • July 28, 2015, at 11:26 AM PDT
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  7. Mister Magic Inactive

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

    • #7
    • July 28, 2015, at 1:19 PM PDT
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  8. profdlp Inactive

    “…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
    • July 28, 2015, at 9:59 PM PDT
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  9. Old Bathos Member

    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
    • July 29, 2015, at 5:30 AM PDT
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  10. hcat Member

    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
    • July 31, 2015, at 4:42 PM PDT
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  11. GrannyDude Member

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

    • #11
    • August 2, 2015, at 6:22 PM PDT
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  12. GrannyDude Member

    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
    • August 3, 2015, at 11:09 AM PDT
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  13. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    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
    • August 3, 2015, at 11:41 AM PDT
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  14. GrannyDude Member

    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
    • August 3, 2015, at 11:44 AM PDT
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