Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Joel Kotkin on Copenhagen and the Suicide of the West

I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Kotkin this weekend at the Claremont Institute's California Public Policy Conference. A self-described, "Harry Truman Democrat," Kotkin showed in his detailed, chart and graph, way how the California Left has effectively left the poor behind with its new found religion of climate change. He told us about this upcoming Forbes magazine article. Here are a few representative paragraphs:

You can get a glimpse of this future in high-unemployment California. Here a burgeoning regulatory regime tied to global warming threatens to turn the state into a total "no go" economic development zone. Not only do companies have to deal with high taxes, cascading energy prices and regulations, they now face audits of their impact on global warming. Far easier to move your project to Texas--or if necessary, China.

The notion that the hoi polloi must be sacrificed to save the earth is not a new one. Paul Ehrlich, who was the mentor of President Obama's science advisor, John Holdren, laid out the defining logic in his 1968 best-seller, The Population Bomb. In this influential work, Ehrlich predicted mass starvation by the 1970s and "an age of scarcity" in key metals by the mid-1980s. Similar views were echoed by a 1972 "Limits to Growth" report issued by the Club of Rome, a global confab that enjoyed a cache similar to that of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

To deal with this looming crisis, Holdren in the 1977 book Ecoscience (co-authored with Anne and Paul Ehrlich) developed the notion of "de-development." According to Holdren, poorer countries like India and China could not be expected to work their way out of poverty since they were "foredoomed by enormous if not insurmountable economic and environmental obstacles." The only way to close "the prosperity gap" was to lower the living standards of what he labeled "over-developed" nations.

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