Re: Roll Over Malthus

by Steven F. Hayward

Jonah wonders where I and brother Jonathan are while this new doomsday UN study is being released. Brother Jon is probably in class, but I’m enjoying the coastal environment out in California at the moment–in fact, watching the once-endangered grey whales spout off in increasing numbers right out my window.

There is nothing surprising about the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; it has been in the works for several years. I haven’t read it yet, but I suspect much of it is correct: there are massive environmental problems in the developing world. The question is what to do about it. Certainly not the UN agenda. Also, it will be worth noting what the assessment says about the U.S. Almost every environmental category in the U.S. continues to improve dramatically (10 million acres of forestland gained in the last decade, for example; 2004 lowest air pollution levels since monitoring began in the 1950s, species loss greatly reduced, etc). Why? Because we are a wealthy nation. The solution for the developing world is clear: get rich. Then you will have the resouces to save your forests and fix your lakes and rivers. Keep the UN bureaucrats away. These problems are serious, but they are not the apocalypse. One hundred years from now the degree of alarm over this will look silly, like Teddy Roosevelt’s worry in 1901 that we might have to ban Christmas trees because the U.S. was running out of trees (true story).