On the flight back from Montreal (which is a great city BTW) I read a somewhat scary essay in the July/August edition of Foreign Affairs Magazine titled, “Environmental Alarmism, Then and Now” by Bjorn Lomborg.
The author sought to discredit the Club of Rome report completed 40 years ago that predicted potential environmental collapse due to human activity, but did not bother to cite ANY current Literature on Sustainability. He described paper recycling as unnecessary because some countries have sustainable forests and that organic farming is “killing tens of thousands of people”. Because a scientist made an incorrect prediction 40 years ago does not release us from our current situation: we need to change the way the economy functions – its is unsustainably using finite resources. There may be some factual truth to his arguments on some issues, but regardless of some errors in the report or some environmental successes, sustainability needs to be a priority as we look forward. Yes we can extract more resources from the earth, but at what cost? What are the long run implications of loss of habitat, ecosystem destruction, climate change, aquifer poisoning, fishery destruction, loss of rain forests,…?
I do agree with the author in some of his criticism, I think it can be counterproductive to ONLY have a doomsday scenario scripted. I believe in people and their ingenuity – if properly harnessed I believe WE can create a sustainable economy in which we all can prosper (and have clean air to breath, clean water to drink, and clean food to eat). I believe is starts with good policy, politics, and economics.
Had an interesting conversation today with Barry Matchett of The Environmental Law & Policy Center (elpc.org),
“The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization. We develop and lead successful strategic environmental advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural heritage. We are public interest environmental entrepreneurs who engage in creative business deal making with diverse interests to put into practice our belief that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together. ELPC’s multidisciplinary staff of talented and experienced public interest attorneys, environmental business specialists, public policy advocates, and communications specialists brings a strong and effective combination of skills to solve environmental problems and improve the quality of life in our Midwestern communities.”
They are doing great work to find market based solutions to the environmental challenges we all face. We discussed the challenges and opportunities in renewable energy in the Midwest.
I found inspiration in our conversation today – please support organizations/politicians that support this work – it is imperative to creating a sustainable economy.
My plan for this blog is to offer salient and interesting commentary on public policy within the following areas: sustainable development, environmental economics, green growth, macroeconomic,energy policy, environmental policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and trade policy.
I am particularly interested at the intersection of macroeconomic policy and environmental/energy policy (impact of trade agreements and monetary policy on the environment).
Essentially I would like to offer advise on saving the world from ourselves. Most of the “problems” in the above areas are a direct result of people acting in their own best interest, but the result is a collectively unsustainable economy overly focused on excessive growth at all costs (environmental, social, other). I am by no means negative or pessimistic on these issues, but we do have challenges in these areas that need to be addressed as soon as possible. As a society we have been amazingly successful in the technological sphere (this blog is a testament), but we now need to apply the same amount of effort in the public policy realm. I am pro-business and pro-prosperity, but we need to find a way to live in harmony with our world. I firmly believe good economics and good policy are means to that end. As they say, “Follow the Money!!”.
If you are reading, welcome aboard.