Monday, 2 April 2012

Earth Day vs human ingenuity


Apparently some folk turned their lights off voluntarily on Saturday night in an attempt to emulate the plight of the dirt-poor North Koreans.

North Koreans endure the darkness due to their devotion to Marxism and to the death-worshipping dictatoriat  of the Kim family.  Which means, for most North Koreans, they have no direct choice about living in darkness.

But the fools turning their lights off on Saturday night were doing it by choice. They were doing it in the name of “sustainability.” Which as Craig Biddle points out, is fatuous nonsense.

The idea behind so-called sustainability is that if we humans consume too many raw materials (or “natural resources”) we will reach a point of unsustainability, where there is not enough left for us or for future generations and thus we or they will die. Accordingly, the argument goes, we must stop people from using so many “natural resources”; we must curb our predilection to consume; we must embrace a policy of “sustainability.” Hence the various drives: We must periodically “turn out the lights” or “use less gas” or in some other way make do with less.
    This notion, however, is nonsense, and we can see that it is if we identify the context that the environmentalists drop in order to get people to buy in to their nonsense.
    The notion that we need a policy of “sustainability” assumes that man is merely a consumer and that raw materials are “limited.” But neither of these assumptions is true.
    Man is not merely a consumer; he is also, and more fundamentally, a thinker and a producer who can take raw materials from nature—whether dirt, berries, petroleum, or atoms—and transform them into the requirements of his life—bricks, food, energy, and weapons. And when man is free to act on his judgment, he can continually discover and implement new ways to use raw materials for his benefit.
    Nor are raw materials “limited”—at least not in any meaningful sense of the term. Of course there is a finite amount of aluminium, petroleum, and the like in the earth. But Earth is nothing but raw materials—of which we’ve tapped only a minuscule fraction of a infinitesimal portion—and the rest of the universe is nothing but a whole lot more. Petroleum used to be just goo you didn’t want to get on your feet or crops; now man uses it to fuel industrial civilization, to make heart valves, to manufacture Kindles, and so on. Sand used to be good for nothing but sunbathing and sandcastles; now man uses it to make eyeglasses and fiber-optic cables. Uranium used to be just a toxic metal you’d want nothing to do with; now man uses it to create inexpensive electricity... And on and on. There is no telling what uses man will discover for other raw materials in the future

The point to grasp here is that resources are not so much found as they are discovered; and not so much discovered as they are created—created by human ingenuity applied to human needs: identifying stuff within the infinity of the universe that can be made to meet that need and to be gainfully brought into a causal connection with that need.   So as long as we remain free to create and produce new resources, the only limit to “our” resources is our ingenuity.

As long as we do remain free to produce. Which is precisely what the Luddites wish to shut down.

1 comment:

  1. A NASA scientist I was listening to recently pointed out that just one average sized near-Earth asteroid (NEA) contains more minerals than have ever been mined in human history and that the NEAs that pass close enough to Earth to mine with currently envisaged technology contain more than enough minerals to last the human race until the death of the Sun. And these are a small fraction of the millions of asteroids in the solar system. So we're not going to run out of minerals any time soon.


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