Hydrogen engineI wrote the following response to Declan Allison’s article on sustainability here. Declan is a campaigner with Friends of the Earth.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a “want-based” culture. Pursuit of happiness, and all that. It’s a certain ideologically-motivated foolishness that ascribes taxes and bans and restrictions to human activities rather than optimistic, technology-based solutions; the new religion with its litany of sins – leading ultimately to the belief that humans are this scar upon the natural world and this feeling that everything would be much better if we were all dead – becomes wearying.

The only problem we have is a temporary one: our current technologies and lifestyles can produce their own issues of sustainability. And that’s precisely why the earth’s resources are not this static quantity that Declan assumes above, but instead the earth’s resources are relative to human technology. What is a ‘resource’? It’s a naturally occurring commodity that’s used in the course of human lifestyle. As technology changes, so do the ‘resources’ and the way we impact the environment.

It used to be, for example, that we needed lead in our petrol. Now lead-based petrol, basically, doesn’t exist – and that a VERY short time later. It used to be that CFCs were universal in certain products; now they’re gone.

Despite on what Friends of the Earth, in their impatience, may insist, we won’t always need the same resources that we do today. Those protracted models which project far into the future are based upon the falsehood that we will never change the resources we need and that technology is a static quantity (unless we’re jolted by a Good Government, of course). Thus the problems are temporary. In the future we’ll be mining our own landfills, generating power by sustainable means, using resources in renewable ways, and more – and we’ll do it all as rampant consumers and lovers of freedom, without apology, without compromise.

That’s the future…. not the horrible bagless, rationed version advocated by Declan. It’s the job of free markets to respond to these tensions – as they already are – and produce better results for the future of humanity. Rather than a society that is invested in human achievement, prosperity and betterment through technology, we’re surrounded by depressing whiners who take it all for granted and do nothing but complain that we haven’t quite reached “Utopia” yet.

Bottom line? It’s asinine to say you’d prefer Egypt when you’re halfway to the Promised Land.