New data reveal that capitalism is saving the bees, proving that market innovations do more for the environment than any state initiative or international treaty. It seems capitalism is really green.
Over the last five years, environmentalists and the media have channeled their inner Nicolas Cage, yelling, “Not the bees! No! Not the bees! No!” Multiple reports have portrayed a “world without bees” and declared that crops were at “a crisis point.” This is because scientists have warned that bees are going extinct, which is a dangerous trend to unfold because we need them.
Of course, humans, like any other negative eco occurrence in recent years, are being blamed for the death of the bee. The predictable response since then has been to encourage rigorous government intervention.
In response to the apocalyptic language – beepocalypse and beemageddon – the market has swung into action by trying to save the bees. Data suggest that the mortality rates of bees are increasing, but there is a counter development happening: the number of honey-producing bee colonies has surged to its highest level in twenty-two years.
Fortunately, because of a healthy demand for pollination services, beekeepers have started to address the rising mortality rates by rebuilding their hives. And consumers haven’t had to bear the costs.
As Reason opines:
It’s a remarkable story of adaptation and resilience, and the media has almost entirely ignored it.
This shouldn’t necessarily be surprising to anyone. The power of the market is remarkable. Capitalism generates goods and services we demand, but it also responds to growing challenges that face us every day, even if liberal environmentalists don’t want to concede it.
Let’s take a look at trees for example.
Everyone knows about tree-huggers, a group of hippies that chain themselves to trees so that private industry doesn’t tear them down for developmental purposes. The rate of which trees are torn down may have been concerning in the 1980s, but today that problem is essentially non-existent.
Why? It’s simple: we’ve gone digital.
The USB flash disk, for instance, has saved more trees than Greenpeace or politicians. As more offices adopt paperless work settings and go mobile, they rely less on printing paper and depend more on smartphones, tablets and cloud computing for all of their document needs.
We can go back to the mid-19th century to see how capitalism saved another precious species: whales.
The whaling industry was a massive one because these beautiful creatures provided a wide array of goods. The whale offered meat for the Japanese, oil for trains, ambergris for perfumes, bones for fertilizer and ribs in the mouth for umbrellas, skirt hoops and buggy whips. Despite profit margins remaining small, by 1846, there were 735 American whaling fleets, producing as much as five million gallons of sperm off, ten million gallons of train oil and 165 million pounds of bone.
Suffice to say, the whales were going extinct at this rate. That is, until market forces indirectly stepped in.
You may have heard how evil John D. Rockefeller and Samuel Andrews were – you likely haven’t even heard of Dr. Abraham Gesner. Well, they contributed to the development of kerosene.
Gesner, a Canadian geologist, created a method that could make kerosene distilled from petroleum. This would make kerosene cheap and easy to produce and avoid emitting a terrible odor like whale oil. By the end of the 19th century, dozens of kerosene plants were set up in the U.S. But it didn’t end there.
Rockefeller understood that too much capital was being allocated into locating and extracting oil and not enough money was being invested in processing. In partnership with Andrews, Rockefeller created a network of kerosene distilleries, which helped make kerosene widely available at a cheap price.
What happened afterwards? The demand for whale oil cratered. What about skirt hoops and buggy whips? The former utilized spring steel and the latter was soon eliminated because of the automobile.
Rockefeller, Andrews and Gesner did more for the whales than Greenpeace or the state.
Today’s biggest environmental problem we need to contend with is global warming, a consequence of CO2 emissions created from private industry, according to government.
Whether you concur with man-made climate change or not, it is true that CO2 emissions have risen over the last century across the globe. The solution for so many on the left has been to establish ridiculous treaties like the Paris Agreement or to extend expensive subsidies so the rich can buy luxury electric cars.
What many on the left have not considered is capitalism, and one thing in particular: fracking.
You may have heard over the last couple of years how hydraulic fracturing – the process of fracking rocks with fluids to extract oil or gas – is destroying communities, poisoning our water and contributing to global warming. Is this true? There is an abundance of evidence to the contrary.
Akin to the bees and trees, whales and snails, the media likely have not told you that the U.S. is one of the few nations to reduce their CO2 emissions from the electric power sector. Thanks to fracking and the shale revolution, U.S. CO2 emissions are at their lowest levels since 1988. This should be plastered on the front page of newspapers all over the country. Instead, President Donald Trump exiting a worthless global pact is spurring outrage and condemnation from the media, declaring the end of the world.
Leftists may attribute solar and wind power to this trend, but they only account for 0.9% and 5.6%, respectively, to the nation’s electric power. They may also allude to public policy for this trend, but the federal government’s climate strategy has barely been overhauled over the last two decades.
Economist Stephen Moore writes in Real Clear Politics:
So here is the real story in a flash: Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling technologies, we are producing more natural gas than ever before. Natural gas is a wonder fuel: It is cheap. It is abundant. America has more of it than anyone else — enough to last several hundred years. And it is clean-burning. Even Nancy Pelosi inadvertently admitted this several years ago before someone had to whisper in her ear that, um, natural gas is a fossil fuel.
Meanwhile, the left has declared war on a technology that has done more to reduce carbon emissions and real pollution emissions than all the green programs ever invented. Maybe the reason is that they aren’t so much against pollution as they are against progress.
This is just more proof that progressives are really regressives.
The left will need to eventually admit that capitalism does more to save the environment than all the tree-hugging, criminal offenses and immense littering at demonstrations ever will. Market economies react with problem-solving innovations, while environmentalists react with whining and protests.
Embracing capitalism is true progress. Trying to extinguish its power is only going to harm us.
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