Article by Brendan O’Neill.
The ‘somewhat surprising’ news about the reef’s good health – as one newspaper diplomatically describes it – is a very serious blow to the apocalyptic scaremongering of the eco-elites.
Eco-alarmists aren’t only wrong about the death of Earth – they’re wrong about life on Earth right now. The message they constantly send is that everything is dire. The big, disgusting ‘human footprint’ on poor Mother Earth is causing heatwaves and storms and death on an unprecedented scale, they say. It is all so overblown. We are actually safer from nature’s violent whims than we have ever been. The number of people dying in natural calamities fell from around 500,000 a year in the 1920s to 14,000 in 2020. That’s a 96 per cent drop. The percentage of human beings living in poverty fell from more than 80 per cent at the start of the 19th century to less than 20 per cent in the 2010s. Deaths from disease and war have also declined dramatically in the modern era. Child labour, too. Life expectancy, meanwhile, has shot up. In Europe, it went from 34 years to 79 years between 1770 and 2019. That is, at the exact time that mankind was having industrial revolutions and allegedly being a plague on the planet, the health and prospects of humanity improved in a way our ancestors could only have dreamed of. It’s almost as if modernity is good for us.
We must never let the anti-industrial rage of the elites blind us to how brilliant our impact on the planet has been. We haven’t destroyed Earth – we have tamed it and civilised it; we have unlocked its secrets; we have transformed this wild and unpredictable ball in space into a planet that can happily host eight billion people, and more besides. Occasionally bleached coral is a very small price to pay for the liberation of humanity from death and drudgery, wouldn’t you say?
Of course things are far from perfect. We’re heading into a serious economic and energy crisis. It will hit the working classes in the West and the people of the South hardest of all. But this crisis is not an indictment of modern human society. On the contrary, it’s an indictment of the elites’ turn against modern human society. Decades of eco-doom-mongering, of fury against fossil fuels, of constant demands for a slowing down of economic growth and for a violent shrinking of the ‘human footprint’, have unquestionably helped to drag us into this worrying new reality of energy crisis and shortages. It isn’t the ‘human impact’ on the planet we should be worried about – it’s the establishment’s hostility to the ‘human impact’ on the planet. Mastery of nature is essential if we are to continue improving human life. It will also help us to look after nature itself, including its greatest wonders like the Great Barrier Reef.