Oh dear, I was writing about Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, then I was writing about modern criticism of the book, then I was writing about environmental regulation vs economic freedom, then I was quoting George Osborne, and it all went downhill from there. But I enjoyed the rant 🙂
Let us hear from George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer. In October 2011, he told the Conservative Party Conference that saving the planet risked “putting our country out of business”. A few weeks later, in the Autumn Budget statement, he said: “If we burden [British businesses] with endless social and environmental goals – however worthy in their own right – then not only will we not achieve those goals, but the businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer.”
Hmmm. Now I don’t know what planet George Osborne is living on. Maybe it’s in an alternative universe where God created the economy ex nihilo. But my planet is the one which underpins all economic activity, the one in which economic actors live and move and have their being. You know, the planet with the environment that provides the soil that we grow food in, the fresh water that we drink, the fossil fuels that power most of our activities, the forests and minerals that provide our raw materials, and lots of natural processes that clean up the muck we throw into the air, water and ground – up to a point.
On my planet, soil is finite, water is finite, fossil fuels and minerals are finite, and nature’s tolerance margins are finite. In this round hole, infinite economic growth makes a very square peg.
So to Mr Osborne I say: “If we burden the planet with endless economic growth – however attractive in its own right – then not only will we not achieve that growth, but the energy sources we depend on and the soil we grow food in and the water we drink and the air we breath will fail, health and contentment will be lost, and we will die; oh and businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer too.”
Someone needs to put him under a restraint, for his own good. We could call it an Obstructing Social Behaviour Order, or OSBO for short.