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But I find the essays of Pinker and Boisvert inspiring, not enervating.I plan to assign the essays to my students, who have become quite gloomy lately.More importantly, they prompted breakthroughs in reverse-osmosis desalination technology, cutting by half the energy needed to extract fresh water from the sea and dramatically lowering the cost to just 58 cents per cubic meter (1,000 liters) of drinkable water…
One essay, published in the ecomodernist essay, Pinker spells out a key assumption of ecomodernism. It has fed billions, doubled lifespans, slashed extreme poverty, and, by replacing muscle with machinery, made it easier to end slavery, emancipate women, and educate children.
It has allowed people to read at night, live where they want, stay warm in winter, see the world, and multiply human contact.
Energy use has leveled off, and even carbon dioxide emissions have turned a corner.
These diverging curves refute both the left-wing claim that only de-growth can curb pollution and the right-wing claim that environmental protection must sabotage economic growth and standard of living.” My mood got an even bigger boost from “The Conquest of Climate” by Will Boisvert, a journalist I met at an ecomodernist powwow a few years ago. Human greenhouse emissions will warm the planet, raise the seas and derange the weather, and the resulting heat, flood and drought will be cataclysmic. While the climate upheaval will be large, the consequences for human well-being will be small.
By tapping limitless sea-water resources it could drought-proof agriculture and thus eliminate the greatest threat posed by climate change.” Boisvert notes that “when we think harder about the specific problems global warming poses—problems of water management, agricultural productivity, cooling and construction—the threat becomes less daunting.
Our logistic and technical capacities are burgeoning, and they give us ample means of addressing these problems.” Greens fear that optimism will foster complacency and hence undermine activism.
As an example, he examines a 2016 study that predicted that by 2050 climate change will cause food shortages that result in 529,000 deaths each year.
The food shortages, Boisvert points out, “are relative to a 2050 baseline when food will be more abundant than now thanks to advances in agricultural productivity that will dwarf the effects of climate change.” Even factoring in climate change, the study was nonetheless headlined, “Climate change could cause half a million deaths in 2050 due to reduced food availability.” Boisvert comments: “A headline like ‘Despite climate change, rising food production will save millions of lives’ isn’t great click-bait, but it would give a truer picture of a future under global warming.” He adds: “Global warming won’t wipe us out or even stall our progress, it will just marginally slow ordinary economic development that will still outpace the negative effects of warming and make life steadily better in the future, under every climate scenario.” I also like Boisvert’s discussion of water shortages.
Here is a typical passage: “Since 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency was established, the United States has slashed its emissions of five air pollutants by almost two-thirds.
Over the same period, the population grew by more than 40 percent, and those people drove twice as many miles and became two and a half times richer.