Doom or Boom?

February 10, 1999

Are we headed for doom or boom? The answer depends on whether you listen to environmental doomsayers or optimistic futurists. But there is a way to end this rhetorical stalemate: look at the facts.

Every year at about this time, the Worldwatch Institute publishes its State of the World report which is then translated into 30 languages. Its message is predictable: the state of the world is dire and environmental collapse is inevitable. But is it?

Jerry Taylor at the Cato Institute suggests you do the research yourself. Pick up a copy of the Statistical Abstract of the United States (I happen to have one right here on my bookshelf) along with a few other books you can find in nearly any library: World Resources Report, World Development Report, and the Human Development Report.

He says we can tell if a resource is becoming more abundant or more scarce by examining inflation-adjusted price trends. And guess what? Prices are dropping. "Whether we examine timber prices, food prices, energy prices or whatever, we see falling prices indicating increasing resource abundance."

He says when you look at natural resources largely outside of the marketplace (like wetlands or endangered species), the picture is more mixed. But he points out that many of the problems have to do with economic issues rather than environmental ones. In other words, when property rights are correctly allocated there are fewer problems than in circumstances where governmental ownership and management predominate.

"What about air and water pollution? The data show that pollution is largely correlated with poverty. Rich countries are far less polluted than poor countries."

Well, I could go on, but I think you get the point. Jerry Taylor at the Cato Institute is trying to give a perspective that is often ignored in the media. We arenít headed for disaster. In fact, we seem to be headed in the other direction.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.

© 1999 Probe Ministries International