What happens when economists get their dander up? They go on the warpath against their perceived enemies: environmentalists, egalitarians, anti-capitalists, organic agriculturalists, anti-GMO activists, anti-authoritarians and defenders of democracy. And they make incredibly ignorant statements!
In a revealing interview on EconTalk, aka Library of Economics and Liberty web site (provided by Liberty Fund, Inc., “a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals”), Russ Roberts (Associate editor, author, PhD from University of Chicago, co-creator of the Keynes-Hayek rap videos), interviews Jesse Ausubel Director of the Program for the Human Environment at the Rockefeller University.
“The program aims to elaborate the vision of a large, prosperous society that emits little or nothing harmful and spares large amounts of land and sea for nature. The work spans forests and farms, marine life, human population, energy and materials, and climate as well as life, earth, and engineering sciences. Underlying the work are studies of the mathematics of growth and diffusion.” (http://phe.rockefeller.edu/jesse/)
So go the wet dreams of economists: unlimited growth, prosperity for 10 billion people, walled off from Nature, with no negative impacts on the natural world. Some people never give up their fairy tales, even when they allegedly grow up!
Reading the EconTalk interview, one is mightily impressed with their almost total ignorance of simple facts of agriculture, forestry, botany, biology and ecology. They don’t know the difference between a tree farm and a forest, they think that producing more corn per acre will result in more land available for Nature, they think aquaculture can reduce human pressures on oceanic species, they know nothing of evolution, natural selection or genetics.
No wonder people like Michael Shellenberger, Ted Nordhaus and Alex Epstein write books and make TED talks about “decoupling” from Nature by intensifying technology, and using fossil fuels to “save nature.” They have no understanding of how technology affects the natural world, that everything used in technology comes from the natural world and the waste products from “intensified” technology go into and degrade the natural world.
This is the new growth industry, pimping for energy corporations, co-opting environmental rhetoric and pretending that resulting technology has no effect on the natural world. It’s an Internet phenomenon, completely divorced from physical reality, swirling round and around in electronic cyberspace. Support for these misguided economists comes, not from their own writing and presentations, but from the corporations they support and promote on the side.
It’s the New Concentric Bird Economy that flies round and round in ever decreasing circles until it disappears up its own fundamental ignorance.
What happens when economists go on the warpath? They fall on their own spears.
Click HERE for Econtalk interview