One of the greatest strengths of free markets is a force sometimes called “creative destruction.” As new and better products and services are developed by profit-seekers and entrepreneurs, existing businesses and companies had better adapt to a changing reality or simply fade away. For example, the great successes of Japanese auto-makers almost took the “Big Three” into bankruptcy. As it is, Toyota has surpassed Ford as number two, and Chrysler would be history if it weren’t for some government intervention and internal reinvention.
It’s the same with the power of ideas. Science is kind of a free market for ideas, sometimes been called “the self-correcting process of discovery.” We throw out old ideas when new evidence comes in.
The notion of a free market in ideas has been under assault for many years by the high priests of political correctness who have deemed certain notions out of bounds for debate. “This is just so,” they thunder. And expect the rest of us to meekly comply.
Well the gloves are coming off in a number of areas and the sacred bastion of environmental orthodoxy under serious challenge. Much of this challenging of the received wisdom is simply based on evidence. Much of the political influence of environmental activists stems from their ability to frighten the general public about the poor state of the environment. “You are all about to condemn your children to a bleak future unless you…….” You fill in the blanks. If some courageous soul actually challenged this, the attack dogs of political correctness barked them into submission. “Don’t you care about the children?” was usually enough to send the poor soul running for cover.
Things have changed. Most important was the publishing of the landmark 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist by Danish statistician, Bjorn Lomborg. In mind-numbing detail, Lomborg proves that the environment is not in nearly as bad a shape as we were led to believe. There are issues to address, as Lomborg freely admits, but we have the means to do that without radical changes in tax or regulatory policy.
Another cherished myth relates to the benevolence and altruism of environmental activists and their fellow travellers, the animal rights extremists. They just want to save the Earth, right? Wrong! Far too often they cause catastrophic harm in their quest to stop any and all development, not to mention the damage as they move governments along the road of expanded spending and control over our lives.
A conference devoted to the “problem of eco-imperialism” convened on January 20, 2004. Nice choice of words. Sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality, a New York-based civil rights group and the Women’s National Republican Club, the conference sought to start holding international environmental activists accountable for their actions.
One of the speakers recounted the pride with which environmental groups report that they have blocked 300 hydro-electric dams in developing countries. The lack of reliable power in many countries prevents improvements in public health, such as clean water, which ultimately condemns millions of Third World people to poverty and misery. The book, Eco-Imperialism-Green Power-Black Death, by Paul Driessen, explores this phenomenon in great detail.
Aided by the Internet and e-mail, an intellectual revolution is occurring. Legions of critical thinkers are taking on the High Priests of political correctness. Join the battle and have some fun.