Oh Goody—It’s Earth Day!

Everyone’s favorite pagan holiday has rolled around again: It’s Earth Day! Of course, the religion of environmentalism now has to compete with the religion of anti-racism to get attention, so expect that there will be lots of talk today about “environmental racism” to tie the two together.

When dealing with a fundamentalist religion it does no good to point out the facts and data about improving environmental conditions, or the reasons behind these happy trends (namely economic growth, open markets, and technological advance), or the sorry record of environmental doomsday predictions ever since the first Earth Day 51 years ago. This one may be my favorite:

Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

Or this:

Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

But let’s look at a few facts and trends anyway. One of the best resources around for this and related subjects is HumanProgress.org, run by the intrepid Marian Tupy. Human Progress is out today with an update of its “Simon Abundance Index” (named for the late, great Julian Simon), which shows that resources are steadily growing more abundant, contrary to the Malthusian environmentalists who always think we’re running out.

Here’s the summary description and the deadline chart:

Global resource abundance increased by 5.9 percent in 2020, according to the 4th annual Simon Abundance Index. The base year of the index is 1980, and the base value of the index is 100 percent. In 2020, the index reached 708.4 percent. In other words, the index rose by 608.4 percentage points over the last 40 years, implying a compound annual growth rate in resource abundance of around 5 percent and doubling of global resource abundance every 14 years or so.

See also the case for environmental optimism from our friends at the Institute for Energy Research.

I’ll be back in a little while with a separate post about the Biden Administration’s moves in today’s climate summit.