Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Industrialization Is the Antidote to Global Poverty. Global Warming Activists Don’t Care. | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 18, 2021

To everything I have said, some might retort that the state sector can effectuate the construction and development of a green energy economy better than the private sector can. History has repeatedly demonstrated that this is not the case—the Wright brothers beat the US government to the invention of the aircraft by a long shot, and much of America’s most basic infrastructure was built by competing private sector entities, after the state had made disastrous attempts

Eben Macdonald

Having long ago lost the argument that capitalism can’t deliver a higher standard of living, the Left’s current anti-capitalist strategy is to claim capitalism requires environmental destruction. Yet even if one were to assume carbon emissions are the driving factor behind climate change, we must acknowledge the moral and economic necessity of industrialization. Between 1250 and 1800, world GDP per capita barely budged; in 1800, global life expectancy was a mere thirty years, infant mortality was commonplace, and eight in ten humans lived below the poverty line. Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, that has all changed: despite the environmental impacts, global per capita income has risen fourteenfold and billions have risen from poverty—a phenomenon the economist Deidre McCloskey describes as “the Great Enrichment.” Industry and the establishment of national industrial infrastructure are and have been the keys to economic growth and poverty alleviation. Data indicate that GDP per capita—the amount of goods and services produced per person—is the single best predictor against extreme poverty (graph displayed below):

Poverty to GDP

Moreover, although GDP growth can signal government increases in the money supply rather than true increases in production, poverty reduction has tightly tracked GDP per capita growth in the developing world. A 2010 paper produced a very clear correlation between GDP growth and the poverty rate in Sub-Saharan Africa (graph displayed below):

poverty and growth in Africa

It is unfair to use climate change to indict neoliberalism. Industrialization, albeit posing long-term environmental consequences, has lifted the human standard of living by extraordinary amounts. More importantly, the charge makes no sense, considering that the solution to climate change lies in the free market, as recent emissions trends and developments in the energy sector show. The central advantage of capitalism is its capacity for self-rectification and alleviation of the problems it initially creates. That is the miracle of innovation.

Market Development Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions

See the rest here


Eben Macdonald

Eben Macdonald is a 16-year-old student, a keen free-marketeer, and he wants a society which is predicated on liberty.

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