A few months ago we talked about
critiques of the view that capitalism has been responsible for vast increases in standards of living globally. I remain skeptical, and particularly of the “Degrowth
” movement that argues that we need to stop pursuing economic growth to save the planet from ecological disaster. I was reminded of this this week because of a series of tweets
by Noah Smith
on the non-role of capitalism in promoting climate change.
The left has tended to adopt a “purity” preference
- one normally associated with the right, according to Jonathan Haidt’s superb The Righteous Mind
- in its response to climate change. Many activists are resistant to the idea of climate change as a manageable problem, with calculable costs and mitigation strategies (for a good articulation of the opposite view, see this podcast
with controversial economist Bjorn Lomborg). But perhaps that’s rational. As Smith says elsewhere, perhaps it’s only if we adopt truly apocalyptic language
that we’ll do anything at all.