Once again my economic friend Donald Boudreaux has simplified the complex while avoiding the sarcasm that so many are expressing over the celebration of Earth Day. 192 countries have joined in the chorus so it’s a fact of life. We can ridicule it as silliness but there it is. Instead, Boudreaux reminds us that free markets have done a heck of a lot more to make our planet a nicer place to live than any attempt at recycling or holding banners in a protest movement.
I’m thankful for the automobile, which has cleaned our streets and highways of animal feces, which is both foul and filthy itself, and that attracts flies that spread it into our homes and workplaces.
I’m thankful for the automobile also because it allows us to travel in a cleaner environment than we had when we traveled on horseback or in buggies. Modern automobiles cool or heat the air immediately surrounding their passengers, making these passengers comfortable and, in summer, less sweaty and stinky.
I’m thankful for air-conditioning that keeps our interior environments not only comfortable but more healthy, as it allows us to better keep insects out of our homes, shops, factories, and offices — and also, in humid places, to dramatically reduce the growth of mold and mildew in our homes.
I’m thankful for indoor plumbing. (The anti-polluting properties here are too obvious to spell out. Ditto for disposable diapers — yet another product for which I’m most grateful.)
He (and I) are thankful for the little things that we take for granted, like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, dental floss, toilet paper, detergents, dishwashers, plastic bags, light bulbs, refrigerators, t-shirts, socks, Windex, aluminum foil, eyeglasses, and …
I am, in short, thankful for private-property markets that are the main driving force behind these (and many other) anti-pollutants — a force so powerful that we today enjoy the incredible luxury of being able to worry, should we so choose, about very distant and very speculative forms of [alleged and often phony] environmental problems such as species loss and global warming.