Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two items you may have missed

1. North Korea is preparing Scuds for firing, according to Yonhap News.  WaPo has missed this entirely, and NYT buried it way down on its "World." page.

2. spiked has a biting review of Andrew Simms' new enviro book Cancel the Apocalypse.  The end is nigh, says Simms: "Climate change, financial meltdown, the global peak and decline of oil production, a mass extinction event of plant and animal species, overuse of fresh water supplies, soil loss, economic infrastructure increasingly vulnerable to external shocks - it’s the age of the complex super disaster."  But if we just follow Simms' remedies -- consume less, stop economic growth, get rid of free markets, live green -- we can avert doomsday.  Hooray!

Here's a bit of spiked's response: "Now, aside from the reheated neo-Malthusian nonsense about the finitude of natural resources – history has repeatedly shown that there is nothing finite or natural about resources – what is striking is the function science performs in Cancel the Apocalypse. Simms effectively dresses up a moral-political vision of how we should live – informed by an essentially Romantic-Aristocratic rejection of modernity – in the garb of science. Moral-political demands that we change our behaviour, that we become content with less, that we stop seeking to better ourselves materially (a staple of left-wing aspiration for two centuries), are passed off as scientifically backed statements. If we don’t change our behaviour, if we don’t become content with less, if we don’t stop seeking to better ourselves materially, then we’re not just challenging Simms’ vision of the not-so Good Life - we’re defying the laws of nature. Likewise, the scientifically verifiable apocalypse – which is actually neither scientific nor verifiable – performs the same function: it turns the political demand that we live differently into a science-backed imperative. An argument that effectively devolves upon an ‘or else’."

"The difficulty for Simms and pals is that the vast majority of the globe actually wants the gains of modernity - political, social and material. And right now, with the economy continuing to flatline, I’m pretty sure most of us in the UK would also like quite a bit of the economic growth that Simms and his cohort of wellbeing-spouting plonkers think is so spiritually deleterious. And this is Simms’ other big problem: environmentalism is not only profoundly unpopular - its demands are pitted against the people."

I particularly like the line "there is nothing finite or natural about resources."  That's something hardly anyone understands, but it is absolutely true.  <== free book!

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