By now, you have probably heard of Greta Thunberg, the world-famous Swedish teenage climate-change activist who has urged immediate action to address the risks posed by man-made climate change. That’s putting it mildly; in the words of Ms Thunberg, “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” Although Ms Thunberg is no doubt a very eloquent speaker, her stern and strident call for action suffers from a fundamental flaw: one must also consider the benefits–not just the costs–of continued economic growth. Climate activists like Ms Thunberg do a great job of pointing out the environment costs of economic growth, but we must not blind ourselves to the benefits of growth nor ignore the costs of economic decline. A further irony is that curtailing the world’s continued economic growth will make it less likely that we will find a solution to climate change! To sum up, fanaticism in defense of the environment is a vice.
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