“Save the Planet, Eat the Children,” reads a T-shirt at a congresswoman’s townhall. Meanwhile, a teenager skipping school and in obvious emotional distress makes the Nobel Peace Prize shortlist for berating world leaders about a supposedly looming mass extinction.
The most privileged generation in human history — enjoying the longest, healthiest, wealthiest, and most comfortable lives men and women have ever lived — thinks the world is collapsing around us.
What a time to be alive — literally.
By nearly every measurement, from child mortality and life expectancy to poverty and education, quality of life around the globe is better than it’s ever been. In much of the world, subsistence living is a thing of the past and humanity is flourishing — especially those with ready access to electricity.
The Industrial Revolution, when an unprecedented boom of technological innovation transformed agrarian America into the nation we know today, wasn’t just a time of economic change and scientific progress. It propelled humanity to the most prosperous time in our history.
Once a rare treasure, electricity now powers everything we touch. It provides the essentials like clean running water and warmth in the winter and the luxuries like Instagram and Amazon Prime. It powers the institutions we depend on: Our banks, law enforcement agencies, doctor’s offices, farms, plants, stores, and schools. Similarly, affordable and dependable cars allow us to travel freely, farther, and more often than our ancestors could have fathomed, giving us the ability to do business over long distances and travel for mere pleasure.
Not everyone in the world enjoys these benefits. Nearly a billion people still don’t have access to electricity or any of the benefits that come along with it. These are communities where medieval-sounding diseases like cholera and dysentery still reign — where life expectancies lag 20 to 30 years behind those of the developed West.
Lest we think this fate is reserved for the third world, Venezuela represents a cautionary tale on the consequences of losing the precious resource that is electricity. In March, a week-long blackout in Venezuela left more than 40 people dead because hospitals couldn’t provide basic medical care, including routine procedures like dialysis. Even now, electricity and critical healthcare infrastructure are spotty at Venezuelan hospitals, leading one doctor to turn pregnant patients away and send them instead to neighboring Colombia.
These are the dangers we should be worried about — real threats to human health and safety — not the overblown dangers of slightly warmer weather.
For all the environmentalist movement’s hand-wringing, you’d think our extinction was scheduled to commence tomorrow. But despite the wildly popular and equally wildly misinterpreted trope that all scientists agree the world is ending, there is no concrete evidence right now to suggest climate change will be anything but mild and manageable, or that we won’t be able to handle it.
Humans are becoming more resilient to mild changes in average temperature. Migration trends show Americans are readily moving to warmer states. Even more crucially, deaths due to climate-related natural disasters have declined by a providential 98.9%. That is thanks to our modern-day technology, which allows meteorologists to more accurately predict storm patterns and near-instant communication keeping the public better informed and prepared. It’s the reason the Great Galveston Storm of 1900 claimed more 8,000 lives, but a recent storm of similar magnitude on the Texas coast — Hurricane Harvey — killed just 68. We can and should work to improve disaster readiness, but we should do so without the fear-mongering.
Given how much society has transformed since the Industrial Revolution, the potential of future generations to spread the health and prosperity we enjoy around the world should be limitless.
Yet climate change hysteria is plaguing an entire generation with a crippling fear of the future. Not only is foisting this burden on today’s children and young adults unhealthy — it’s simply unfair to limit the younger generation’s potential to contribute to the innovations that will drive the future. Young leaders should be empowered to pursue their passions and encouraged to experiment with new solutions, just as the greatest innovators of the past have done.
We live in the healthiest, most prosperous, most resilient time in human history. It is unfortunate that climate alarmists can’t see how far we’ve come — or how bright humanity’s future can be.
Katie Tahuahua is Communications Manager for Life:Powered, a national initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation to inform policymakers and the public about the value of abundant, reliable and affordable energy to the human condition.