Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal: I sent it in response to a letter written by two women who (as described in the WSJ) “lead the climate psychology certificate program at the California Institute of Integral Studies”:
Leslie Davenport and Barbara Easterlin object to Allysia Finley’s just criticisms of the case – oh so chic in elite circles – for quaking in fear of climate change (Letters, August 14). But unlike Ms. Finley who reasons, Ms. Davenport and Ms. Easterlin emote. Using heart-rending language to describe particular tragedies caused by natural disasters, these “climate psychologists” don’t acknowledge that there is no strong evidence that the frequency or intensity of natural disasters are on the rise; nor do they mention the lack of agreement among scientists on the connection between climate change and natural disasters.
No doubt it’s emotionally gratifying to tell of “the farmers who lose thousands of acres of crops because of flooding or extreme heat, and the small-business owners whose dreams are destroyed by wildfires.” But why not tell instead of the bountiful fruits of market-driven economic growth? Of the falling rate of deaths from air pollution? Of the American workers who enjoy ever-safer workplaces? Of American parents whose newborns are less and less likely to die before celebrating their first birthday. Of Americans of all ages who are increasingly likely to survive cancer? And of the steady rise in Americans’ life expectancy at birth, which today is more than ten percent longer than it was 50 years ago?
Indeed, why not mention that, as Bjorn Lomborg documents, “deaths caused by climate-related disasters have declined precipitously over the past century”?
Why not also tell of the steady decline in the portion of our disposable incomes that we Americans spend on food? This fact is especially impressive given that we work fewer hours than in the past. And why leave out of account the impressive, productivity-driven increase in crop yields?
Of course we know why “climate psychologists” don’t tell of these and other relevant realities: such realities belie the distorted portrait of modernity and the absurd predictions of coming calamity that we Americans must be induced to swallow if we are to sacrifice more of our liberties and treasure on the altar of Environmentalism.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030