‘Deep Optimism Manifesto’ (David Siegel’s cure for ‘climate anxiety’)
By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 12, 2022
David Siegel is a man with a message. His Deep Optimism Manifesto spells out a new approach to viewing the world that is at once realistic and optimistic. Written last year, its message is timeless and timely. His opening quotation comes from Julian Simon’s essay in The State of Humanity, p. 642.
I am writing this in response to the Ecomodernism manifesto. It’s a group of smart people doing very important work to help improve the future for humanity and nature.
I think if they looked more into the science of climate change and the economics of abundance, they would arrive at Deep Optimism, a term coined by Matt Ridley, the rational optimist.
People who understand the economics of abundance don’t apply enough critical thinking to understanding climate and the natural world (Hans Rosling, Bjorn Lomborg, Peter Diamandis, Tyler Cowen, Steven Pinker). They take model projections of doom and gloom at face value, which dampens their message of abundance.
Here I present the basic principles as I see them. (Opinions expressed here are my own.)
In a Nutshell
Capitalism works. Capitalism does more to help the world than the UN, World Economic Forum, Club of Rome, NASA, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and a long list of clueless celebrities put together. Capitalism helps humans escape poverty and improve the environment. There are a few incentive problems to address, but here is the track record so far …
As technology advances, dematerialization reduces the use of natural resources. Your mobile phone is now your camera, answering machine, calendar, pen, video camera, watch, and much more. Soon it will be your heart monitor, baby monitor, chauffeur, doctor, and much more. Car sharing, mass transport, megacities, and other developments will reduce our requirements for raw materials. We reached peak factory worker on planet earth more than 15 years ago. We have already reached peak farmland and soon peak milk. Even though the population is growing, we produce more and more value with less and less material. For more than 60 commodities, we are already on the downslope, even as populations continue to grow (see video below). The Metaverse will accelerate this trend. Bonus — no need to colonize space or other planets!
As technology advances, we will use far less land for agriculture, returning a huge amount back to nature.It’s already happening (see video below). We are using less land for agriculture than we did ten years ago. Soon, a large percentage of our chicken, fish, and beef — even filets and steaks — will be manufactured in labs, providing safer food at lower prices with far less land, fishing, agricultural runoff, and bycatch. By 2050, we’ll feed 9 billion people and should be able to return an area of land the size of India back to natural forests. (See video below.)
If you want to join us, there are plenty of resources on this page. Spend some time here, investigate for yourself, tell your friends, and and help us promote capitalism as the best solution for most problems. Can we make capitalism better? Yes. Let’s do that. But let’s not throw it out in favor of something less effective.
3. People in the developing world need reliable, affordable power. Some will need to burn coal, while many can rely on natural gas until 4th generation nuclear is commercially viable. Once fusion is commercially viable, it will just be a matter of time before it takes over.
Let’s talk this out. Let’s agree on the physics and construct a cost-benefit framework we can use to recommend smart energy policies and technologies for the future. I hope this will lead to a constructive scientific conversation between our two groups, so we can work together toward a better future for humans and nature.