Denial of Limits
Updated 23 June 2019 My highlighting in red
ACCIONA ‘Sustainability For All’ website - Link here
This website is an example of the hijacking and bastardisation of the term ‘sustainability’. Economic growth or any form of growth in a finite environment cannot be sustainable. The ‘What is Sustainability’ web page here states the following:
“Origin of sustainability:The concept of sustainability first appeared in the Brundtland Report, published in 1987. This document which was also referred to as Our Common Future, was elaborated for the United Nations in order to warn about the negative environmental consequences of economic development and globalization It was written with the aim of offering solutions to the problems arising from industrialization and population growth. Today, sustainability tries to secure present needs without compromising the future generations. How? Without giving up any of the three essential pillars: environmental protection, social development and economic growth. Environmental, social and economic sustainability. Sustainability is concerned with assuming that nature and the environment are not an inexhaustible resource and so, it is necessary to protect them and use them rationally. Sustainability promotes social development, seeking cohesion between communities and cultures to achieve satisfactory levels in quality of life, health and education. Thirdly, sustainability focuses on equal economic growth that generates wealth for all without harming the environment. Nowadays, many of the challenges that humans face such as climate change or water scarcity can only be tackled from a global perspective and by promoting sustainable development”
Bjorn Lomborg - Wikipedia profile and publications link here An example of a trivialist of the impact of climate change
In 1998 Lomborg was a professor in statistics who trivialised the impact of climate change in his 1998 book "The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World". In a recent 2019 Aljazeera People and Power documentary on TVNZ about geoengineering Lomborg was referred to as being a political scientist.
Lomborg devoted a chapter to Global Warming pp 258-324 in his book. On page 323 he states the following with his own emphasis in italics. The extent of the following quotations ensures context.
"... global warming is not anywhere near the most important problem facing the world. What matters is making the developing countries rich and giving the citizens of developed countries even greater opportunities. "
Lomborg concludes his chapter on page 324 by basically stating that economic growth is more important than investing in mitigation, though he concedes that we could invest in mitigation, however our descendants would be better off if the same investment were placed elsewhere:
"What this illustrates is that if we want to leave a planet with the most possibilities for our descendants, in both the developing and the developed world, it is imperative that we focus primarily on the economy and solving our problems in a global context rather than focusing in the IPCC “lingo" on the environment in a regionalized context. Basically, this puts the spotlight on securing economic growth, especially in the third world, while ensuring a global economy, tasks which the world has set itself within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
... To put it squarely, what matters to our and our children's future is not primarily decided within the IPCC framework but within the WTO framework.
... Yet, one could be tempted to suggest that we are actually so rich that we can afford both to pay a partial insurance premium against global warning (at 2-4 percent of GDP) and to help the developing world (a further 2 percent) because doing so would only offset growth by about 2-3 years. And that is true. I am still not convinced that there is any point in spending 2-4 percent on a pretty insignificant insurance policy, when we and our descendants could benefit far more from the same investment placed elsewhere. But it is correct that we are actually wealthy enough to do. And this is one of the main points of this book."
Lomborg provides a summary of his book in Chapter VI The Real State of the World pp 327-352 as follows:
“The central point here remains: if we are to make the best decisions for our future, we should base our prioritizations not on fear but on facts. Thus, we need to confront our fears; we need to challenge the Litany.
... The fear created by the Litany is effectively communicated by organizations and the media, which again (and for a variety of reasons) selectively use some of science's many results to confirm our concerns. This fear is absolutely decisive because it paralyses our reasoned judgment. Thus, it is imperative that we regain our ability to prioritize the many different worthy causes.
... Prioritizing is made harder by two tendencies which supplement each other. Psychologically we have a tendency to underestimate large risks and to overestimate small ones. At the same time the media have a tendency to focus on dramatic rather than everyday risks. This is a dangerous cocktail.
... This book has shown that many of our deeply ingrained beliefs from the Litany are not supported by the facts. Conditions in the world are not getting worse and worse. As mentioned earlier, we have more leisure time, greater security and fewer accidents, better education, more amenities, higher incomes, fewer starving, more food, and healthier and longer lives. There is no ecological catastrophe looming around the corner to punish us.
Consequently, we must stop giving our environmental thinking a Doomsday perspective. It is imperative for us to see the environment part of the many challenges we must handle part of the many challenges we must handle to create an even better world and the most progress for the rest of the century.
... Environmental initiatives must present sound arguments and be evaluated on the basis their advantages and disadvantages, in precisely the same way as proposals to boost Medicaid, increase funding to the arts or cut taxes.
... However, this necessitates that the precautionary principle be strictly circumscribed.
... The most obvious example is global warming, where the mere fact of scientific uncertainty is not in itself an argument against (or for that matter, for) action. Rather, as we discussed in the chapter global warming, we need to look at the level of uncertainty, the direction of that uncertainty, and then particularly at the likely costs and benefits of different levels of action.
However, this understanding of the precautionary principle is very Anglo-Saxon, whereas a much more radical interpretation comes from the German version (the so-called Vorsorgeprinzip), the more common interpretation on the Continent. This principle in essence suggests building "a margin of safety into all decision making. In the Danish interpretation it becomes "giving nature and the environment the benefit of the doubt." But this is a rather problematic argument. In essence it argues "better safe than sorry," which of course sounds eminently agreeable. However, such an approach ignores the fundamental insight from the Harvard study, namely that if we try to become more safe in some areas, we spend resources that cannot be used doing good in other areas. Thus, saving extra lives at great cost just to be sure quite possibly means forgoing the chance to save more lives more cheaply in other areas.
... If we do not make considered, rational decisions but base our resolution on the Litany, that typical feeling that the world is in decline, we will make poor and counterproductive choices.
... On the whole I believe it is important to emphasize that being overly optimistic is not without costs, but that being too pessimistic also carries a hefty price tag. If we do not believe in the future, we will become more apathetic, indifferent and scared hiding within ourselves. And even if we choose to fight for the planet it will very probably be as part of a project that is born not of reasonable analysis but of increasing fear.
... We must take care of the problems, prioritize reasonably, but not worry unduly. We are actually leaving the world a better place than when we got it and this is the really fantastic point about the real state of the world: that mankind's lot has vastly improved in every significant measurable field and that it is likely to continue to do so. Think about it. When would you prefer to have been born? Many people are still stuck with the Litany and have a mental image of children growing up with a shortage of food and water, and with pollution, acid rain and global warming. But the image is a mixture of our own prejudices and a lack of analysis.
Thus, this is the very message of the book: children born today" in both the industrialized world and developing countries will live longer and be healthier, they will get more food, a better education, a higher standard of living, more leisure time and far more possibilities without the global environment being destroyed. And that is a beautiful world."
IDick Taverne -Wikipedia profile and publications link here
Herman Kahn - Wikipedia profile and publications link here
Ian Plimer - Wikipedia profile and publications link here
John Maddox - Wikipedia profile and publications link here
Julian Simon - Wikipedia profile and publications link here
Ramez Naam - website link here Ramez Naam writes the following in the preface of his book ‘The Infinite Resource’:
“I’m claiming in this book that it’s possible for humanity to live in higher numbers than today, in far greater wealth, comfort, and prosperity, with far less destructive impact on the planet than we have today. I’m claiming that raw energy, materials, and the other resources we need to survive are plentiful on Earth and limited primarily by our understanding of how to collect, harness, and efficiently use them. I’m claiming that in the midst of this abundance of matter and energy the most valuable resource we have and that we have ever had is the sum of our human knowledge—our comprehension of how the universe around us functions and how to manipulate it to our ends. I’m claiming that if we act quickly enough and decisively enough, we can have our cake and eat it too—a healthy thriving planet, and a human civilization of ever-growing wealth. These propositions are at odds with the prevailing wisdom that energy or land or oil or fresh water are our most precious resources, that their finite nature and growing scarcity place fairly imminent caps on the size, wealth, and sophistication of human society, and that living sustainably on this planet necessarily means living more modestly and accepting slower or even halted economic growth. To back those claims up, I’ll show how new ideas have overcome physical resource limitations again and again in the past. I’ll show how our progress in science and technology have the potential to leapfrog us past our current challenges of energy, climate, water, food, minerals, and other resources. And I’ll show how high the true limits on this planet are.”
Siegfried Fred Singer - Wikipedia profile and publications link here
Wilfred Beckerman - Wikipedia profile is not available. Publications include:
‘In Defence of Economic Growth’ (1974) - Amazon.com link here
‘Small is Stupid: Blowing the Whistle on the Greens’ (1995) - Amazon.com link here
A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth’ (2002) - Amazon.com link here