Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Earth 2100

While watching television on my trip to D.C., I came across a television shown on ABC called Earth 2100. While watching the show, I could not help but shake my head in disgust. If so many people were not taking this show so serious, I would have been laughing. I don't think that I have ever come across a show that was such "green", climate change, propaganda. This show is just another attempt to motivate people to do things they would not otherwise do by scaring them.
To begin, this show is just a modern version of the Malthusian prediction of global catastrophe. In the movie the world is dying, with our industrial, pro-business, model killing the world. There will be mass starvation and depleted resources. It is to bad that these predictions have failed time and time again. Malthusians' prediction of mass starvation failed, so did the predictions made in the book "Population Bomb." Yet this story continues. When proponents of this world view are confronted with these facts, they usually respond that just because these predictions failed in the past, it does not mean that this prediction will not come true. However, given the fact that all these predictions have consistently failed, I would tend to place my faith in the assumption that they will fail again. I am also comforted that these predictions also lack any basic economic understanding.
In the show there was a comparison to the current modern world to Easter Island. Assuming the facts are correct, the inhabitants of Easter Island striped their island of all the trees, killing one of their primary life providing resources. However, what they fail to understand is that this happened simply because of a lack of adequate property rights. If we want to prevent this from occurring here in the modern world, we need to promote individual property rights so that individuals have very strong incentives to prevent the complete depletion of resources. Without property rights, I can see the Easter Island scenario occurring. However, instead of promoting individual property rights, they instead suggest we simply need to "act green."
In addition, the show was ridiculously critical of businesses, and only found love in government planning. Throughout the entire show, there was continued talking about the need of government planning. In the show, there is the story of a business that developed a massive desalination plant to provide drinking water. While the supply of water dropped considerably, which caused prices to rise, people only complained, which required protests. In the show, the business eventually "gave in." What the developers of this show fails to realize, now no new desalination plants would be build, limiting the supply of fresh water even more.
I don't know what bothered me more about this show, the complete lack of economic understanding, or the absolute promotion of green, and social, planing. Like I said before, if I was not so concerned about so many people taking this show seriously, I would have laughed so hard, considering the complete ridiculousness of the show. I hope that other people, who watched this show, see the ridiculous methods used in this show to scare them, but I fear many people will not see this.