Fingering capitalism for the world’s evils seems a bit perverse
To the Expositor:
The August 4, 2021 edition of this paper included an editorial which focused initially on the space escapades of Bezos and Co and then went on to again sound the alarm regarding the dangers of climate change (‘Billionaire space race highlights madness of consumer society,’ Page 4). I would like to point out some chinks in the arguments made in the editorial. First of all, I hadn’t really followed any of the details of the flights as they occurred but when I read the editorial it seemed strange that emissions would be a problem. Most space flights employ rocket engines and these devices normally burn liquid hydrogen supported by liquid oxygen. Water is the result of the burn, nothing else! A quick check of the Bezos flight confirmed that the craft was indeed propelled by a rocket engine.
Moving on to the “oh my goodness we are all going to die” section of the editorial, one reads that droughts and wild weather patterns threaten crops on a biblical scale and the Bezos space caper and other extravagances will be the end of us all. It would be interesting to know where the science is to support such claims. I have stated several times in this paper that the evidence does not align with such hyperbole. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (if one ignores the summaries for journalists and politicians) has stated that there are no discernible trends for droughts, hurricanes etc. Regarding wildfires, The Royal Society recently published an update of a study by Dr. Cristina Santin and Professor Stefan Doerr of Swansea University entitled ‘Global Trends in Wildfire and its Impacts.’ Here is a quote summarizing the findings: “When considering the total area burned at the global level, we are still not seeing an overall increase, but rather a decline over the past decades.” Fires are a regional issue and need to be investigated as to why they burn the way they do and what can be done now to limit the resultant damage. In addition, trends for crops world-wide have been positive for decades and I have not seen any credible evidence that would suggest otherwise.
The 21st century robber barons comment merits a response as well. If J.K. Rowling writes a series of books that many people want to buy, read and enjoy, is she one of these? How about Michael Jordan? If a basketball team is willing to pay him millions and fans are willing to pay the ticket price, is he included? A great music composer or entertainer—are they tainted with the same label? How is Jeff Bezos any different? He has a service to offer. Many people think it is great and willingly pay the price. These people have earned their money by being very good at what they do and many people benefit as a result.
Finally, it would be interesting to see an editorial detailing the differences between “unfettered capitalism” vs “fettered capitalism.” I have always thought that the basis for a free market is the opportunity for individuals to offer a service or product for sale at a certain price and customers are free to accept or reject the offer. Fingering capitalism for the world evils seems a bit perverse as the opposite would seem to be the case when one looks at the benefits accrued to any society lucky enough to have the means to employ such a system. Just ask anyone in Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea—the list is a long one. More telling, ask anyone who has been lucky enough to escape these places and ended up here in Canada.