Michael Shellenberger Critiques Radical Environmentalists

John Tierney and Joel Kotkin review Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, by Michael Shellenberger. Tierney (in the Wall Street Journal) writes:

“He chronicles environmental progress around the world and crisply debunks myth after gloomy myth,” writes Tierney. “No, we are not in the midst of the ‘sixth mass extinction,’ because only 0.001% of the planet’s species go extinct annually. Continue reading “Michael Shellenberger Critiques Radical Environmentalists”

Is Climate Change Killing People?

Numerous news sources are reporting a claim that a warmer climate is killing so many American that health departments aren’t equipped to handle the upsurge in cases. Yet the most precise measurements we have show there has been no increase in U.S. temperatures since 2005, writes Heartland Institute scholar James Taylor. He  goes on to note that cold temperatures cause more deaths than warm temperatures:

“In a peer-reviewed study published in the prestigious medical journal  Lancet, researchers found that colder-than-ideal temperatures kill 20 times more people globally than warmer-than-ideal temperatures. That includes the United States, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control report far more Americans die each day during the cold winter months than during the warm summer months. Therefore, even if temperatures were warming in the United States, any such climate change would save the lives of far more people than would die because of the warmer temperatures.” Continue reading “Is Climate Change Killing People?”

Barry Asmus, RIP

Barry Asmus, who died March 30, 2020, studied at  Montana State University, where he was mentored by  economists at PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center. He  picked up his appreciation of the free market from them (Richard Stroup was his thesis adviser). While Barry didn’t enter the environmental field, he became an advocate for the free market.


John Goodman remembers Barry Asmus:

Almost everybody I know believes in something.

But no one I ever met believed as fervently and passionately as Barry Asmus. He didn’t just believe. He wanted you to believe, too. His speeches on public policy came close to being sermons. If you happened to be a liberal, he did everything he could to save your political soul.

He loved to get in front of an audience and give his listeners an unforgettable experience. He was disappointed if he didn’t get a standing ovation at the end.

He once told me: when you finish a speech, if you aren’t sweating from head to toe you haven’t done your job.

I think it was Paul Samuelson who once said, “I’m very lucky; I get paid for doing something I would have done for free.” I believe the same could be said of Barry. He made a good living as one of the nation’s  most effective public policy speakers. But if he didn’t need the money, I think he would have done it all for free. Continue reading “Barry Asmus, RIP”

The Environmental Impact of Coronavirus

The World Meteorological Organization said the coronavirus pandemic is expected to push carbon dioxide emissions down by 6 percent this year, which would be the largest one-year decrease since World War II. WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a virtual briefing that the drop could be traced to the “lack of emissions from transportation and industrial energy production.” (Reuters) Continue reading “The Environmental Impact of Coronavirus”

A Laffer Curve for Pollution?

Most of us naturally assume that some pollution is the price we must pay for economic progress.

That may be true, but studies show that more pollution is bad for health, IQ, productivity and employment. That means that pollution reduces human capital.

There may be a “Laffer Curve” for pollution, just as there is for taxes. If taxes are too high, we get less income (people produce less and therefore pay fewer taxes). At some point, lowering taxes will increase income.

Similarly, if pollution is too high, we suffer a panoply of human-capital impacts. Continue reading “A Laffer Curve for Pollution?”

The Wealthy Spend a Lot on Energy (While Attacking It)

By John C. Goodman

Wealthy liberals who are concerned about economic inequality and climate  change have a new reason to feel guilty. Not only are they enjoying the fruits of wealth inequality, but they are using their wealth in ways that generate far greater inequality in the use of energy.

In a first-of-its-kind study, University of Leeds researchers combined European Union and World Bank data to calculate the distribution of energy footprints. As described by David Roberts at Vox:

The numbers are particularly striking for transportation, where the top 10 percent consumes 187 times as much in vehicle fuel and operation as the bottom 10 percent. Continue reading “The Wealthy Spend a Lot on Energy (While Attacking It)”

The War against Poachers

Anti-poaching action leads to multiple deaths of rangers and poachers alike.

The International Ranger Federation reports that 269 rangers were killed across Africa between 2012 and 2018, the majority of them by poachers….

[R]esearch on organized crime estimates that between 150 and 200 poachers were killed in the Kruger National Park alone [between 2010 and 2015]. In neighboring Botswana, anti-poaching action has reportedly resulted in dozens of deaths, and the country’s controversial “shoot to kill” policy—which gives rangers powers to shoot poachers dead on sight—has drawn allegations of abuse.

From Cathleen O’Grady in the Atlantic.

And more:

South Africa’s most recent rhino-poaching crisis came out of the blue. In 2007, the country lost just 13 rhinos to poaching; the next year, that number jumped to 83, kicking off a nightmarish escalation. Losses peaked at 1,215 in 2014, and deaths are still high: 2018, with 769 rhinos killed, was the first year that losses had dipped under 1,000 since 2013. South Africa is home to 93 percent of Africa’s estimated 20,000 white rhinos and 39 percent of the remaining 5,000 critically endangered black rhinos, making South Africa’s rhino crisis a global rhino crisis.