The Biggest Covid Lesson Not Learned

June 15, 2021

The subject of the environment is a bit off-topic for me, since the focus of this blog is to warn of the economic consequences of overpopulation, leaving others to focus on the environment. But with all of the Biden administration’s renewed focus on climate change, I just can’t let this pass.

Trump called climate change a “hoax.” Is it? I don’t think so. The science is clear that certain gases like carbon dioxide and methane, just to name a couple, have a greenhouse effect, trapping heat below the atmosphere. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has soared over the last decades far above its historical norms. And temperatures seem to be rising. But is there a cause and effect relationship between rising CO2 levels and rising temperatures? I’m not quite so sure.

Never mentioned is the heat-island effect of larger and more densely-populated cities. The temperature in cities is always at least a couple of degrees higher than in the surrounding suburban and rural areas as cool, moist ground is replaced by hot asphalt and concrete. As our population grows, so too does the heat-island effect in big cities. Smaller cities grow into bigger cities. Small towns grow into cities, and new towns appear in once-rural areas. Heat-islands are getting bigger and new ones are appearing everywhere. How do you quantify how much of the higher temperature readings are due to the heat-island effect vs. greenhouse gases? You can’t. Nor does it matter. The effect is the same. The planet is getting hotter thanks to our growing population.

Still, I find it logical to conclude that rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are playing a part in rising temperatures. So what’s the solution? To arrive at a solution, you have to first understand the real cause. Emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 is the result of human activity. The total volume of these emissions is the product of the number of humans multiplied by the average per capita emissions from their activity. Total greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by addressing either the average per capita emissions or by reducing the number of humans, or through a combination of both approaches. If climate change caused by greenhouse gases is an existential threat to our planet as environmentalists, political leaders and business leaders claim, then the latter approach – one that addresses both factors in the equation – the number of humans and the average emissions that they produce – is absolutely critical.

At this point, let’s take a step back and digress because it’s essential, especially for younger readers who didn’t live through it, to understand some history of the environmental movement. In the ’60s and ’70s, people were fed up with pollution. Our lakes and rivers and sky were absolutely filthy. The landscape was strewn with litter along the highways and with unregulated dumps and landfills and junkyards. The environmental movement was born.

Soon, however, perhaps because of the extent of the problem and the opposition by industry to do anything about it, environmentalists became quite radical. Much of their focus turned toward overpopulation to the point where environmentalists were perceived as “anti-human,” looking upon all humans with scorn. Industry and politicians alike hated the focus on overpopulation because economic models are based upon and depend upon growth. Industry’s profit growth goals depended on population growth. People, too, hated being told that their very existence was the problem and began to hate the environmentalists. The environmental movement was in peril. At the same time, people also began to hate industry for its opposition to cleaning up the horrible mess they had created.

In the interest of survival, environmentalists, industry and politicians came together and, in an unholy alliance, came to a mutual understanding. Industry agreed to embrace the environmental movement and pursue technologies that would clean up the environment and, in return, environmentalists agreed to never again focus on the role of overpopulation. The concept of “sustainable development” was born. All sides agreed that we can be clever enough to continue growth and development while, at the same time, protecting the environment from harm. All sides embraced this new concept of “sustainable development.” Never mind that little voice inside your head telling you that “sustainable development” in a finite world is an oxymoron and is nothing more than BS. If and when it proved to be exactly that – a bunch of BS – it would be far enough down the road that it would be some later generation’s problem to deal with. Today, you are that generation.

OK, back to climate change and how to approach it. If climate change is, in fact, an existential threat to our planet, then any approach that doesn’t include some focus on stabilizing our population – worse yet, leads us to believe that, through changes in technology we can eliminate the problem while still growing our population – is clearly doomed to failure. It is, in fact, a hoax, just as Trump proclaimed.

Take the Paris Climate Accord, for instance. If you read it’s mission, you’ll find that it’s goal is not to stop climate change but to reduce it to a manageable level – a level at which “sustainable development” can continue. There you have it. “Sustainable development” has been practiced now for at least fifty years and all of our environmental problems – especially climate change – are the end results. Does the Paris Climate Accord want to end it? No. It’s main goal is to keep “sustainable development” going. And what is required of the U.S. as a member of this accord? The U.S. is required to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to the effort. And what is that money ear-marked for? Green energy projects? No. In fact, it’s earmarked for exactly the opposite. It would be spent to develop underdeveloped countries like India using fossil fuel technology, with the rationalization that they must first be developed cheaply so that they can then afford to make the switch-over to green energy technology. Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you, but it’s true. Read the Paris Climate Accord for yourself.

Along comes the recent G7 meeting where Biden agreed to donate another $100 billion to the cause. To advance green technology? No, it’s earmarked to help poor countries cope with the effect of climate change.

Then there’s the promise that green energy will create jobs right here in the U.S. But, at every opportunity to demonstrate that that’s true, what happens? Wind turbines are imported from Denmark. Solar panels are imported from China. The new electric Ford Mustang is built in Mexico. The Chevy Bolt EV is primarily made in South Korea.

Frankly, the entire environmental movement has devolved into a hoax, one that is designed to create the illusion that our problems are under control so that unbridled population growth – fueling sales and profit and tax base growth – can continue without opposition.

Back to the title of this post. Despite all the death and hardship it has caused, the Covid pandemic has provided us with one benefit. It gave us an opportunity to see what would happen if human activity was dramatically curtailed. Some amazing things happened. The air quickly cleared. The people of Beijing, China actually saw blue sky – probably many for the first time in their lives. The sky turned bluer everywhere and plants and trees thrived in a way that hadn’t been seen in at least half a century. Greenhouse gas emissions were slashed far more than any scientists thought could possibly be achieved through green energy projects. The roads were cleared of traffic. People took to the outdoors once again – walking and biking. And people began leaving their high-rise apartments in big cities in droves, realizing for the first time just how stifling and risky living in densely-populated conditions can be. The work force was pared down to essential workers and, with federal assistance, we all got along fine. We didn’t really need to eat out so much, or need many of the trappings of modern living that make life such a rat race.

Those of us who have been around a while – long enough to remember a time when our population was half of what it is today – have seen it all before. It brought back a lot of fond memories of what life was like in those more simple, uncrowded times. Frankly – and I’ve heard others make the same observation – it was a breath of fresh air. It was a glimpse of what is possible in a less crowded world.

That lesson is clearly lost, however. No one – not environmentalists, economists, politicians or industrial leaders have dared to utter a peep to suggest a new approach – one guaranteed to resolve climate change with far less effort and expense – an approach that includes steps to stabilize our population. In fact, Biden has thrown the immigration doors wide open in an effort to grow our population even faster. China, in an effort to avoid any decline in its enormously bloated population, is encouraging families to have more children. So is Japan. None of them really care about climate change or any of the other overpopulation-induced maladies that threaten the planet. All they care about is putting on a show to fool you into thinking that there’s actually a plan.

I have warned for a long time that unbridled population growth, through declining per capita consumption and worsening unemployment, will push us into poverty and be our undoing. If we don’t learn to moderate our population, mother nature will do it for us and it won’t be pretty. We’ve seen Covid hit poorer, overpopuated countries the hardest and there take the biggest toll. As grim as the Covid toll has been, something else will come along and it’ll be much worse. What will it take before we finally learn this lesson? I dread to find out.