Resourceful Earth Day: Fred Smith on Julian Simon

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — April 21, 2023

Ed. Note: April 22nd (tomorrow) has been celebrated since 1970 as Earth Day. However, this day needs an update by the simple addition of one word, Resourceful, to become Resourceful Earth Day. Human ingenuity has proven in the last 53 years that optimist/realist Julian Simon was right and neo-Malthusians were wrong on the human condition and its prospects. This name-change suggestion, and tribute to Simon, by the founder and longtime head of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Fred Smith, remains as relevant as when it was published in 1999.

“The problems of famine, overpopulation, poverty, and disease are resolvable. In fact, they have been resolved in the United States and other places where human ingenuity is free to solve them.”

April 22, once associated with the optimism of revolutionary Marxism (as the birthday of Lenin) and then with the pessimism of modern Malthusianism (environmentalist’s Earth Day since 1970), merits redemption.

A new label, Resourceful Earth Day, is appropriate as we enter the 21st century, a title selected to honor mankind’s increasing ability to solve environmental as well as economic problems.

This title, of course, is inspired by the late Julian Simon, author of “The Resourceful Earth,” who combated with passion and power those who viewed man as the cancer of this planet and his future as bleak and austere.

Resourceful Earth Day also signals a hope more appropriate to spring, marking a return to a positive view of man’s role on this planet. Indeed the old Marxists, convinced that they would dominate the future, optimistically favored economic and technological change. The forces of change, they believed, would move man toward heaven here on Earth.

That optimistic element has disappeared. The environmental establishment has grown increasingly gloomy, convinced that the Earth is suffering from the “Terrible Toos” — too many people, too much consumption, too great a reliance on technology which is understood too little. Earth Day has become a day of atonement for man’s criminal assault on our planet. That pessimism reflects, in part, their realization that history is no longer on their side; thus, change is no longer in their interest. Stasis must be the order of the day.

With attacks on things like biotechnology, automobiles, suburban opportunity and trade, they now seek only, as Aaron Wildavsky noted, “an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.”

Had God not expelled man from the Garden of Eden, so the story goes, the “greens” certainly would have. And, indeed, their ideal land use is “wilderness,” defined as an area from which man is excluded.

Simon was a wonderful critic of all this foolishness. He investigated and refuted the gloomy projections that Western Civilization was a failure, that our civilization was non-sustainable and doomed to inevitable decline as the planet’s finite resources were depleted.

But the finite nature of the Earth’s material resources pose no great problem, he argued, because the Earth’s most precious resource is infinite and organic. It is its people, contributing to  the ever-growing stock of useful human knowledge. When people have been free to apply their intellect, they have always found ways to meet needs and answer crises, and always will.

Simon pointed out that, while people are born with stomachs, they are born with brains and hands as well. The latter allow them to create far more than they consume. People, after all, are not ciphers, which helps explain how the growth in the world’s food supply has outstripped the growth in the world’s population.

The problems of famine, overpopulation, poverty, and disease are resolvable. In fact, they have been resolved in the United States and other places where human ingenuity is free to solve them. The calamity criers of the green movement predicted great disasters afflicting the planet by the year 2000. The Carter administration’s Global 2000 Report forecast global calamity, and Paul Ehrlich claimed on the Johnny Carson Show, “If I were a gambler, I would bet even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Unfortunately for the eco-catastrophists, as we approach their due date for disaster, the planet is in increasingly good shape. This point was recently conceded by America’s arch-druid. “Not only do we have the healthiest economy in a generation,” said Vice President Al Gore, “we also have the cleanest environment.”

On this Resourceful Earth Day, we may hope that Gore and his fellow foot soldiers in the environmental brigades will ponder these points and rethink the wisdom of the current policy of placing all one’s faith in federal political solutions. The greens’ constant calls for massive government controls, forced population limits, harsh curbs on economic activity, and a curtailing of technology threaten to produce exactly the results that such actions seek to avoid —a world of ecological and economic disaster. On this April 22, let us commit to both a freer and a cleaner world; they go together after all.

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Tom Halla
April 21, 2023 6:07 pm

It is much more Lenin’s Birthday than concern for the environment. The Faith is misanthropic, and has much too much confidence in their vision of how the world should work.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 22, 2023 12:11 am

I agree it is much more about Lenin et al that ecology. Earth Day was founded on 22 April 1970, Lenin’s centenary. Unless someone would like to argue that was accidental …

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  markgobell
April 22, 2023 8:23 am

new religions often redo the symbols of old religions – the way the Catholic Church updated many old pagan holidays- so the new eco religion took over Lenin’s birthday- maybe, still waiting for an alternative explanation

April 21, 2023 6:36 pm

In the last 40 years the Green’s mantra has not changed – “The world will end in 20 years!”

Rich Davis
Reply to  ScienceABC123
April 22, 2023 6:38 am

Something like fusion power, except that’s been 30 years out for 75 years.

Reply to  Rich Davis
April 22, 2023 6:46 am

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra

Reply to  Rich Davis
April 22, 2023 10:43 pm

Fusion sounds like gas from grass that was launched 8 years ago in England from the Guardian but still not started construction I would think is because Electocity has to raise money with no promise of a return for the investors ,just helping the earth.
Cutting grass off over 2000 hectares = 5000 acres and ensiling it then putting it through a digester to produce a methane rich gas .
In New Zealand we could turn that much grass into 2000 tonnes of whole milk powder worth well over $6 million US .

April 21, 2023 7:22 pm

The West has to get its priorities right first and own the feels-
Government launches new $6 million ‘Love Better’ family harm prevention campaign | Newshub

Reply to  observa
April 22, 2023 1:42 pm

So their government is now celebrating and supporting divorce and the breakup of the family. Good job, idiots. I can already envision the tools and methods of their madness.

Rich Davis
Reply to  pflashgordon
April 23, 2023 6:25 am

Aotearoa is so lost. The last sane Kiwi should switch off the lights on his way out.

April 21, 2023 8:03 pm

“Terrible Toos” — too many people, too much consumption, too great a reliance on technology which is understood too little. 

We can lay the blame squarely on Baron Howard Florey’s shoulders for the mess Earth is in.

Florey is credited with development of modern antibiotics that are estimated to have increased average human life by 23 years.

Without antibiotics the global population would no longer be increasing – what a disaster for the planet!

Last edited 1 month ago by RickWill
Pat from Kerbob
April 21, 2023 8:11 pm

Mother Nature is an awful evil biatch who has wiped out 99% of all species that have ever existed.

I think the climate/insane simply hate the fact that we are winning.

They keep predicting she’s going to strike back and it never comes and it drives them insane with rage.

All they can do is get out a bottle of wine and a box of Kleenex and watch “After Humans” and other such eco porn on Discovery channel Friday night and dream of the end.

Sick puppies.

John Hultquist
April 21, 2023 8:31 pm

Is this the day we are supposed to burn wood?
Saturday night the local temperature is expected to be about 38°F (3.3°C).
I expect the woodstove will need to stay hot for hours.
The wood is sourced from trees on the property, cut 2 years ago and now dry.
Resourceful – warms me when I cut it, when I split it, and when it burns.
The final stage is helped by a glass of wine.

Reply to  John Hultquist
April 21, 2023 9:02 pm

Trees are truly a precious resource. They devoured most of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere until it reached starvation level. Now nature, in the form of humans, are returning some of the carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere. Nature restoring the balance.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  RickWill
April 22, 2023 8:29 am

I’m currently reading “Unsettled”. I was a bit surprised that he suggested that coal formed in the Carboniferous Period because there was no fungi to break down the wood in the trees. I don’t think so. The wood didn’t break down as it grew in swamps and the water was anaerobic.

ethical voter
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 23, 2023 2:57 pm

I think there is more to the formation of coal than swamps and water. Many coal seams are extraordinarily thick and often covered in marine sediments. Also the coal itself can contain flora, fauna and bitumen which does not resemble what is happening in swamps today.

John V. Wright
Reply to  John Hultquist
April 21, 2023 9:42 pm

Absolutely right John. I recently chainsawed my way through several tree trunks and the resulting large logs are stored at the rear of my property in England. After about a year of natural seasoning I will use my long-handled axe to produce smaller logs perfect for my woodburner. My father told me: “Good wood warms twice”. I commend the idea to the House.

Reply to  John V. Wright
April 22, 2023 11:39 am

Always split wood when it’s wet/green otherwise you might get bruises on your forehead when the axe bounces back.

ethical voter
Reply to  Nansar07
April 23, 2023 2:46 pm

Remember too. Wood, like women, splits from the thick end.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  John Hultquist
April 22, 2023 8:26 am

the climate whack jobs are now pushing the idea that we should never cut any trees again

I’ve been a forester for 50 years so I don’t agree. 🙂

April 21, 2023 8:43 pm

Following on from Simon is the book SUPERABUNDANCE, “The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet” by Economists Marian L Tupy and Gale L Pooley. They redefine economics to define the time price of goods and services so the price is the working time needed to buy these goods and services. They show that the amount individuals and populations can purchase with their earnings has been increasing exponentially since around the present. The growth is highest in a free enterprise system and drops as one moves towards a more government controlled system eg communism.

They go through the whole history of society and innovation. Humans in general at every time or age have always had a pessimistic attitude in thinking they were better off at some earlier “golden age” and that catastrophe was ahead. They thus tended to follow the relevant doomsayers (enemies of progress) of the time.

When the present madness is over and the latest enemy of progress is beaten, free enterprise can be restored.This will then add another chapter to the history of the past and the various setbacks which slowed natural human progress at the time,

Paul Stevens
Reply to  KensoGhost
April 22, 2023 5:08 am

Fabulous book. Very detailed and all of the references you would ever need to prove the author’s point, but even if you skip 10 – 15% of the details, the message and arguments come through as clear as day. Humanity, given personal freedom, a free market, and the right to personal choice will continue making this planet a better place.

Peta of Newark
April 22, 2023 1:57 am

Quote:”of man’s role on this planet.

My Soap Box:
man’s role on this planet Is to correct for and repair Soil Erosion

Planet earth is now very old and the things that kept it alive for as long as they did (volcanoes, new mountains, plate tectonics) are slowing to the point of complete halt.

i.e. The rate of new soil creation is less than the rate of natural erosion. Natural erosion being an inevitable consequence of atmospheric CO2, rain and the fact that all rock on this Earth is ‘basic’ in nature.
Rain eats rock, washes it into the ocean and because the ocean is itself basic, the metals comprising that rock can not just spontaneously bubble back out.
There is no Henry’s Law for Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Cobalt, Manganese or the complete set of 52 elements vital for life.

Without volcanism or mountain building, Earth will become another Planet Mars

If you believe in Natural Variation, if you believe in ‘co-incidence’ as per the GHGE = Global Warming then how can you deny:

Our arrival on Planet Earth at this exact timeThat all the raw materials we need (black coloured rock/basalt) are simply there lying about, even up to a height of 28,000+ feet. How can anyone miss thatThe stuff needed to make machines is similarly easily found (Iron ore, Aluminium, Copper)The stuff needed to power those machines likewise (Coal, oil & gas)
Thus Our Role on Planet Earth: Use those raw materials in conjunction with the brains we were given to replicate what volcanoes, mountain building and plate tectonics do

No, We are not going to be doing that for selfish reasons. i.e. To Save Our Own Souls

We are saving The Bacteria ##
The bacteria are = Life on Earth.
If they’re OK, we and everything else will be OK

Who are you kidding ffs:”Mankind’s increasing ability to solve environmental as well as economic problems.
Please explain how $4 Trillion per year on healthcare means that the environment = food is ‘solved’How a $30 Trillion deficit means the economy is solved. Printing money does not solve anything.
Ploughs, Nitrogen fertiliser and Glyphosate have massively incalculably accelerated Soil Erosion i.e. Planet Earth’s descent into its becoming another Mars

I am not (try not to project onto me) the abolition of those things.
What I am asking for (The Family Idso have got to be The Most Insane Roadblock Ever on this) is an understanding of how those devices actually work, what they do, how they do it and how they affect, not least, Climate.

That’s all.
Would it be too big a difficulty just to run a little ‘trial plot’ somewhere
We do have 38% (it was 33% when I was a kid) of Earth to go at.
What about Southern California for a start. Reill the Salton Sea and use you lovely new train to import a few chunks off of Mt St Helens
(Say bye bye to Tornado Alley as a consequence – what’s not to like)

## The Hubris is simply off the scale where/when around here (in another story?) about 99% of all species have been ‘extincted’

Of course and we all know/assume/project that A Species is something resembling us.
How could it possibly not?

Pick up a 2-hands scoopful of black-coloured dirt from anywhere you find it and there are more ‘species’ between your fingers than stars in the sky.
Yet we **’know’** in our self-appointed cleverness and our God-Given Dominion Of Earth that 99% of all species have become extinct.
We actually do believe that we ourselves are = Gods

there aren’t the words because if we persist in that thinking, we *will* get what’s coming
The higher you fly, the bigger the fall

Last edited 1 month ago by Peta of Newark
Rich Davis
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 22, 2023 7:03 am

Well this time you got your soil erosion in but you failed to mention sugar k!lling us and GHGE being a fantasy. Yes, for those who know ye well, the implication was there. But still you’re slipping, Peta. Maybe if you could be a bit more voluminous in your exhortations? Why the reticence to expound on your wisdom?

Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 23, 2023 2:14 pm

Vulcanism and plate tectonics have slowed to a crawl?
Not on this planet.
Fertilizer accelerates soil erosion? Really?

Last edited 1 month ago by MarkW
April 22, 2023 1:38 pm

I have been an environmental professional for close to a half century, and I have never recognized nor celebrated “Earth Day.” It is a pagan Earth worship celebration founded and perpetuated on lies. I like Bradley’s idea of redeeming the day for good rather than evil.

April 22, 2023 3:53 pm

These people are not going away. If I could wave a magic wand and all climate crisis concerns disappeared they would regroup tomorrow and plan their next campaign. That is precisely why satisfying them should not be our goal. Once satisfied they just move on to the next crisis

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