Thursday, January 02, 2003
Might as well kill ourselves nowPerhaps you had a good day yesterday. Perhaps you had a good year last year. Perhaps you had a good decade last decade. Well, not according to resident Guardian nitwit George Monbiot (last seen arguing that starving Third World residents are happier than people in the West because they're too poor to afford anything -- a point well-Fisked by James Lileks), who argues that quality of life in the United States peaked -- I kid you not -- in 1968. His
With the turning of every year, we expect our lives to improve. As long as the economy continues to grow, we imagine, the world will become a more congenial place in which to live. There is no basis for this belief.Except, you know, all of Western history since the Enlightenment.
If we take into account such factors as pollution and the depletion of natural capital, we see that the quality of life peaked in the UK in 1974 and in the US in 1968, and has been falling ever since. We are going backwards.I think what Monbiot means is that he last read a newspaper in 1968; how else could he get the idea that pollution was increasing? Perhaps he missed the extensive Clean Air Act of 1970, or the Clean Water Act of 1972.
Oh, what's the use? His argument is simply Malthusianism/Ehrlichism revisited: the earth's resources are finite so eventually we'll all starve and die. The only thing he forgot to point out is that the sun is going to go nova one day, and even our starving pitiful little corpses will be wiped out of existence. One thing I've never seen these people address: if our resources are as finite as their imaginations, doesn't that mean we're going to run out of them and die no matter what we do? So doesn't the reduction of our consumption simply postpone the inevitable? What's the point?
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