In a recent column, I noted that young people like Greta Thunberg should be thankful for the uniquely peaceful and wealthy world they’ve inherited.
Of course, whenever I write pieces that point out that life has vastly improved for billions of people despite climate change, angry readers inundate me with links about glaciers and coral reefs and heat waves. These events are allegedly apocalyptic proof that we’ve left a rickety planet to our kids. Never once do any of these emailers consider the tradeoffs that accompany the authoritarian system they propose to fix climate change. For many, of course, the authoritarian system is the point.
Now, I can’t disprove forecasts about our impending collapse. But I can point out that Malthusian environmentalists have been consistently and spectacularly wrong going on five decades and that even in a warming planet, nearly every quantifiable measure of human existence is improving. The retreat of socialism — exactly the kind of system environmentalists would like to bring back to fight global warming — has led to extraordinary gains in the most important aspects of human existence over the past 30-40 years.
Here are just a few:
Capitalism is eradicating extreme poverty.
It’s eliminating child mortality.
The remarkable decline in child mortality, where each dot is a country. pic.twitter.com/HKhbklmjPu
— Todd R. Jones (@toddrjones) September 21, 2019
It’s increasing life expectancy.
It’s mitigated conflicts — both internal and external.
It’s keeping us safer…
…Even from guns.
(The homicide rate ticked up the past few years. In 2017, it was 5.3 per 100,000, still near historic lows.)
It has made education more accessible.
And it’s made us wealthier.