A Certain Conundrum About The UN’s Biodiversity Report

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There’s that report out from a part of the United Nations telling us that we’re slaughtering all the cute bunnies out there and that this is a bad idea. Could well be true too, both assertions. However, we also get told that we should be against trade, against industrial farming. The problem is that we can’t go around saying that all are bad ideas:

All of which, to me at least, is the joy of this and other similar reports. We can take seriously their warnings about nature and the biosphere, in which case we should want as much industrial production of food and energy as we can — that mine to feed a nuclear power plant might kill a few bugs but it’ll leave more space for nature than solar panels to produce the same power — so that we leave more room for the biodiversity we desire to save. Or we can say that we don’t need to worry about that room for not-human activity to thrive, in which case we have enough to allow ourselves the luxury of resource-intensive things such as organic farming and other inefficiencies such as local production. But what cannot be true is both, that we must mind the world by intruding upon it less and also go back to inefficient methods of production.

For any given level of resource use trade gives us a higher standard of living than not-trade. For any given level of standard of living trade uses fewer resources than non-trade. Thus, if we desire less resource use we desire lots and lots and lots of trade in order to have less resource use.

Similarly, if our major worry is that it is land use changes which are driving other species extinct – a major assertion of this report – then we want industrial farming because this uses less land than alternatives like organic farming.

All of which is long before we get to the interesting point that only rich – meaning capitalist and free market – societies have the economic surplus for people to be willing to divert some to saving the cute bunnies. Poor people eat them into extinction as our forefathers did the megafauna in every place they got to – and as they got to those places.

Which is rather a joy, isn’t it? That in order to save that biodiversity, as the Green rightly insist we should, we should do absolutely nothing the Greens otherwise recommend, in fact perform exactly the opposite action. Drenching the Cerrado in chemicals to feed the world is exactly and precisely what will save biodiversity.

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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

As always in the case of a million dead species or 40,000 dying from air pollution, what are their names?

david
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david

They allege, I think, that 1m species are in danger of extinction by 2050. In round numbers, that’s 100 per day. Why don’t they list the daily top 10 newly extinct species. Every day. Starting NOW.

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

I would still like to know what the right amount of bio-diversity is, and what the correct number of species going extinct per day is.

Or perhaps the Greens don’t believe in the Theory of Evolution, and think that nature ought to be static…?

Davidsb
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Davidsb

I would still like to know what the right amount of bio-diversity is, and what the correct number of species going extinct per day is.

That report is scheduled for just after the release of the report on the atmosphere’s correct CO2 proportion, the world’s correct temperature, and the correct sea level.

Oh, and the world’s correct population (are you listening, Saint David/Population Matters?)

Not holding my breath…..

;¬)

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

I assume that there will also be a report on the correct amount of pay for the proles and the correct amount of caviare for the rulers…

Climan
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Climan

I drove through the New Forest yesterday, what a dreary and monotonous area of land that is. No doubt there are some rare species there, such as the sainted crested newts that have a habit of invading sites where some new construction is proposed, but why not allow some proper farming and housing there, and a fossil-fuel power station to help to keep it all green and healthy.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

You’re right that bunnies + farming = civilisation equation holds, but you’ve dropped the ball thinking the Greenies want the civilisation term to remain constant. It is their explicit desire that C *and* F go down in order for B to go up.