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How do you respond to good news? I suppose the answer depends on whether you are a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person. What if I told you that scientists have discovered a way to generate electricity and subsequently remove any and all pollution that it might create, and to do so in a manner that is at least as cost-effective as the best electricity sources today?

One would imagine this would be cause for a huge celebration, as not only would our environments become cleaner, safer and more diverse, our ability to do work would be enhanced – life would get less expensive. Of course, we are right now on the cusp of these kinds of breakthroughs, and given my experience talking to folks on environmental and economic issues, I am going to make the following prediction. If and when we do see a breakthrough in energy and pollution abatement, it will not be celebrated by the people who are most worried about those things right now. No, it won’t. Rather, expect to see a great wailing unleashed upon is stupid masses. About what? Well, now that we have come to the precipice of clean, cheap, abundant energy, then “we will be able to go on with our grossly overconsumptive and people-exploitive ways.” In other words, there are folks who will see a future of clean energy abundance as yet another threat to, …, well, it can’t be a clean planet … maybe they think it will give us greater means to shape our environments in potentially destructive ways? No, what is far more likely is that we will have put 6-feet underground yet one more charge and argument that capitalism is evil and the only way to undo that evil is to create some sort of new social model – with the alarmistas of course leading it.

You watch – even minor successes today have the, … “but” … attached to them.

2 Responses to “When All News is Bad News”

  1. Trey says:

    Which is why we should read D McCloskey’s Bourgeois series. She calls capitalism Market Tested Innovation. It’s not a zero or negative sum game. Trade is virtuous, not neutral.

    One has to have a different mind set, or there will always be an *ism (like environmentalism) suspicious of capitalism.

  2. Michael Carson says:

    I’ve never said capitalism is “evil” (aside from the fact that pure capitalism has never existed anyway and if it did would collapse nearly instantly) but why is it that certain types respond to any criticism of capitalism with reminders that hey, market capitalism is responsible for the food you eat and the clothes on your back so why don’t you just be grateful? (Hillary and Bernie have been called “ingrates” so this isn’t a straw man) As if I had a choice to get basic necessities some other way, as if capitalism were some benevolent deity who is offended by blasphemy, as if capitalism having indeed made major advances in the past means that capitalism will be always and forever Good?

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