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Nicolas Loris, an economist, focuses on energy, environmental and regulatory issues as the Herbert and Joyce Morgan fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read his research.
This Earth Day, it almost feels like we should be carving some turkey. Why? Because we have a lot to be thankful for since the first Earth Day event occurred 49 years ago.
Gloom-and-doom - Predictions - Decades - Population - Growth
We should be thankful that the gloom-and-doom predictions made throughout the past several decades haven’t come true. Fearmongering about explosive population growth, food crises, and the imminent depletion of natural resources have been a staple of Earth Day events since 1970. And the common thread among them is that they’ve stirred up a lot more emotions than facts.
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate … that there won’t be any more crude oil,” ecologist Kenneth Watt warned around the time of the first Earth Day event. “You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.'” Watt also warned of global cooling and nitrogen buildup rendering all of the planet’s land unusable.
Issue - Trends - Number - Reasons - Innovation
The issue, however, is that present trends don’t continue. They change dramatically for a number of reasons. Innovation happens. Consumer behavior changes. Importantly, price signals play a huge role in communicating information to energy producers as well as consumers.
Higher prices at the pump encourage companies to extract and supply more oil. Expensive gas prices, meanwhile, motivate entrepreneurs to invest in alternatives to oil, whether that’s batteries, natural gas vehicles, or biofuels. Drivers will examine their consumption options as well, whether carpooling, finding alternative modes of transportation, or, over time, purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Years - Watt - Deadline - Drivers
Here we are, 19 years past Watt’s arbitrary deadline, and drivers are pulling up to the...
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