An antidote that’s more than an anecdote

March 24th, 2007
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In this current article in Reason Online, author and evident optimist Indur Goklany provides a well-argued antidote to the Gaia-is-sick-mankind-is-a-cancer crowd and, come to think of it, to the entire anti-globalization left:

The proximate cause of improvements in well-being is a “cycle of progress” composed of the mutually reinforcing forces of economic development and technological progress. But that cycle itself is propelled by a web of essential institutions, particularly property rights, free markets, and rule of law. Other important institutions would include science- and technology-based problem-solving founded on skepticism and experimentation; receptiveness to new technologies and ideas; and freer trade in goods, services—most importantly in knowledge and ideas.

That’s the nub of the argument. But the column is more than mere anecdote, being larded with interesting statistics on higher life expectancy worldwide, improved education (on average) and increased wealth available to pursue social goals and environmental protection. Well worth reading to furnish some intellectual meat for dinner-table, bar-room or airport departure lounge conversations against today’s near-ubiquitous doom-and-gloomers.

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