by Larry Smith
"I get upset every Earth Day," says Laura Huggins, a political scientist at the Hoover Institution in California who describes herself as a free market environmentalist. "I get upset because of all those catastrophic claims that have been made about the environment for the past 40 years."
What "outrageous" claims is she referring to? The link between industrial pollutants and cancer made by Rachel Carson; the suggestions by Paul Ehrlich that population growth poses major problems for humanity; and the idea that we are plundering the planet at a pace which will outstrip its capacity to support life, to name a few.
Huggins was speaking at a public meeting last week organised by the Nassau Institute, which advocates libertarian free market policies for the Bahamas. She is a director of the Property and Environment Research Centre in Montana, and the author of books and articles that promote market principles to help solve environmental dilemmas.
"Are resources really finite?" she asked. "That depends on how you look at it, because our ultimate resource is the mind. Every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new recipes and ideas. The sky is not falling, and the end of the world is no closer today than it was in 1970."
But that too depends on how you look at it.