Eco–doomsday predictions are unhinged from reality

(CCU Faculty) Bulletin: Harold Camping is alive and is now a columnist for the New York Times. Not really; It’s just Thomas Friedman cranking out yet another jeremiad with warnings of apocalyptic doom.

“The earth is full … We have “crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once.” Friedman then recites the usual Malthusian themes. Sana, the capital of Yemen, is running out of water. This, of course, is due to environmental irresponsibility.

Could it be more the case that Yemen is a violent, primitive country riven by tribal violence and descending into anarchy? Is political implosion more the problem than environmental scarcity? Is it because Yemen is “a distinctive culture of dagger–wearing men and most adults chewing qat?” (See Daniel Pipes’ description here.)

Is Friedman really suggesting that the world is running out of drinking water when more people have access to potable water than at any time in the history of the human race?

Then there is Friedman’s second example—China. “The conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today … ” What China is telling us is that, “the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit, given current technologies.”

Since 1978 more than 100 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty. Their economy has grown at nearly 10% a year—doubling every decade. Starvation is being replaced by food and by hope. A question for Mr. Friedman: How many people are you willing to lock into permanent poverty to achieve your environmental goals?

A third example—rising food prices in the Middle East. “Population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices; rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more instability.”

Is Mr. Friedman seriously suggesting that the fundamental problem facing the Middle East is rising food prices? This is the source of unrest? Not autocratic, oppressive governments that deny basic human rights, subjugate women, and leave their citizens oppressed in every way?

Friedman ends his piece on a positive note—when we reach the crisis point he is hopeful that people will make the right choice. What is needed is ”a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.” (No doubt Friedman ponders all this while relaxing in his 11,400 square foot mansion, pictured here.)

I guess I am no longer surprised by eco–fear mongers who predict the end of the world, lecturing others on how to live, and totally unaffected in their own personal lives. But it is still annoying.

One last point. The implicit assumption in all apocalyptic environmental sermons is that there is no God. A generation ago Jean Paul Sartre asserted, “We are alone in a hostile universe.” No one believes him more than environmentalists. There is no God controlling man or nature. We are on our own. We cannot be saved by divine intervention but only by the elitists at the New York Times.

I want to end on a positive note. The God who is missing in Friedman’s pieces actually exists. He sovereignly rules the world He created. It will end all right but when he decides to end it, not man. In the meantime He has given mankind the marvelous ability to materially improve our world lifting countless millions of poor into a better life. They may not live in Thomas Friedman’s house but they are bettering themselves. And may God keep the Friedmans of the world from stopping this wonderful process.

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