Peter Coclanis serves as an academic adviser to the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI). In “Food for Thought about Climate Change” in the July 18th issue of The American Conservative, Dr. Coclanis, a leading economic historian at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, beams wisdom for young people concerned about global warming. He has no patience with doomsday scenarios in the media and the academic establishment.
“The climate is changing in significant ways, observed Dr. Coclanis, “as it often has in the past.” Human actions are probably to blame for the slight rise in temperatures, but that is not the whole story.
The world has more pressing matters to attend to, such as diseases and poverty. Modern collective wisdom has “almost always answered the call” for innovation to get us out of our predicaments. “[T]he human brain, or rather, human brains collectively, are the ultimate resource.”
He looks at the history of the world’s food production and technological innovation to give us hope. “Over the course of the 20th century and the first few decades of the 21st, the efforts of research scientists, policymakers, agribusiness professionals, farm organizations, and individual farmers have transformed production possibilities in profound ways.” In this regard, doomsday academics such as Paul Ehrlich and Dennis Meadows utterly failed to have their predictions come true.
“The human propensity to innovate and adapt, particularly when underpinned and reinforced by research commitments, well-designed market incentives, and respect for individual freedom and diverse paths,” Dr. Coclanis pointed out, “gives me more than a margin of hope that the well-fed and increasingly wealthy 10.4 billion or so people projected to inhabit the Earth in 2100 may look back and wonder what all the climate fuss was about.”