… is from page 14 of the late, great Julian Simon’s Introduction to his brilliant 1995 edited volume, The State of Humanity :
When considering the state of the environment, we should think first of the terrible pollutions that were banished in the past century or wo – the typhoid that polluted such rivers as the Hudson, smallpox that humanity has finally pursued to the ends of the earth and just about eradicated, the dysentery that distressed and killed people all over the world as it still does in India, the plagues and other epidemics that trouble us much less than in generations past, or not at all. Not only are we in the rich countries free of malaria (largely due to our intensive occupation of the land), but even the mosquitoes, that do no more harm than cause itches with their bites, are so absent from many urban areas that people no longer need screens for their home and can have garden parties at dusk. It is a mark of our extraordinary success that these are no longer even thought of as pollutions.
DBx: Yes. Capitalism cleanses our world, and lengthens and enriches our lives. Our environment truly is cleaned by capitalism .
Were we not made so rich by the market order, none of us would enjoy the leisure and luxury to worry about the environment in the manner in which so many people worry about it today.
Do not think me inattentive to Simon’s mention of plagues and epidemics. These do indeed “trouble us much less than in generations past.” By far the greatest trouble from the Covid-19 pandemic comes not from the pathogen itself but, rather, from humanity’s deranged overreaction to the pathogen.