Saturday, July 31, 2010
So why do we find it so difficult to celebrate these facts? Ridley points out that developed societies seem to live in constant fear of things coming to an end: what he calls ‘turning-point-itis’. From fears of nuclear armageddon, an epidemic of pesticide-induced cancers and global starvation in the Sixties and Seventies, to panics about pandemics and climate change today, the defining worldview is of things getting worse and worse with the root cause of the impending disaster being humanity itself. The collapse of the old left and the rise of the greens is built on the assumption that the world is going to hell. Indeed, there are distinct echoes of apocalyptic religion in environmentalist discourse today. The facts of an improving world jar with such a sense of doom, which helps to explain the vitriolic reaction to Lomborg and Ridley from many commentators.