State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Eco-Fads, The Review

I promised a review of the book Eco-Fads, by Todd Myers a while back, and I have finally finished the book.  In posts I believe I have covered most of the important ideas he brings to light, so at this point I will focus on the possible differences in opinion that we have.  The main points on which we seem to disagree have to do with government involvement in solving environmental problems and the infamous idea of Cap and Trade.

On the first point, Myers seems, in general, to have nothing against government intervention, so long as it is productive.  I will give to him that there have been times that such has been the case.  The system of cap and trade to reduce and eliminate sulfer dioxide emissions may well have been a necessary and effective government program.  I will agree that this may have been the proper course where science truly showed a real problem that needed intervention.

On the flip side, I believe that at this point, the government is so over-involved in so many things, especially as related to the environment, that the mere fact of government involvement creates an eco-fad.  Measuring effectiveness of government programs is nearly impossible and getting rid of bad ones is almost doubly impossible.  We now live in a time when the EPA would like to rule us by the almighty hand of regulation, whether it has the authority from Congress or not.  I have written extensively about  this problem.  The EPA is also responsible for the irresponsible ban on DDT which has cost many more human lives than the EPA could ever claim to have saved or improved with any of its policies.  Overall, I believe Mr. Myers makes the case perfectly well as to why the government should no longer be involved in the vast majority of environmental regulation that it is in, he simply seems to not want to fully give up that power.

 This leads to his seeming support for the idea of Cap and Trade.  This is somewhat implied throughout the book, as he compares the expensive solutions we often fund right now to the seemingly inexpensive solution of Cap and Trade.  He doesn’t go deep into Climate Change, and seems to realize that the fear mongerers have way over-blown the possible problems, but does seem to want to insure against Climate Change somehow.  I read his subtle support for Cap and Trade as his preferred method.  He states:

“Although there is still much to learn, even scientists who call themselves climate skeptics or climate realists argue that human-caused CO2 emissions can influence Earth’s temperature, creating risk of some harmful impacts.  The trends we have seen so far have been at the low end of the projections, but dealing with the potential risk in a thoughtful way makes sense.”

He correctly states the skeptics view that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and therefore does have some influence on Earth’s temperature.  He somewhat distorts the truth, though truthfully saying “creating risk of some harmful impacts.”  The truth is that many, if not most, scientists from disciplines such as biology agree that there will be many more good results from mild warming than bad.  While he is correct that there is some risk, to frame that as the only consideration is false.  Daniel Botkin, as I have quoted in my review on Tragedy & Hope, as well as Dr. Craig Idso, along with many others, believe basically the opposite to be true.  A correct analysis of the best science we have shows CO2 enrichment for another 100 years to basically be a good thing for the planet, though as with everything, there is some risk of some downside as well.

Myers incorrectly states “The trends we have seen so far have been at the low end of the projections”.  The correct statement would be below the low end of the projections.  He also opines that “but dealing with the potential environmental risk in a thoughtful way makes sense”.  This is an opinion, as I have pointed out before that many scientists don’t believe it makes sense, at least for a number of decades, as we should reap many more benefits than problems.  This time would give us time to gain in knowledge and make proper decisions.

Other than these objections, I think the book is a wonderful read.  Mr. Myers does a great job of myth-busting many eco-fads and shows very well that the free market is the best solution to the problems that do exist.  I highly recommend the book, but suggest that it is not taken as absolute truth simply because he writes in an agreeable manner to many of us skeptical of the big government environmental cause.  The casual reader should do a lot of research to fully understand his arguments and the counter arguments that are out there.  In this way, I believe this book brings a lot of truth to the table.

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