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Why it’s not anti-environmental to be in favour of economic growth

Degrowthers are using the cost of living crisis to try and further their cause.



In the midst of today’s cost of living crisis, many people who are critical of the idea of economic growth see an opportunity. In their recent book The Future is Degrowth, for example, prominent advocates Matthias Schmelzer, Aaron Vansintjan and Andrea Vetter argue that the post-Covid inflation has predominantly been caused by the inherent instability in the capitalist system.

This came in the form of problems with global supply chains and the asset price inflation which stemmed from government action in response to the pandemic. Since the same system is, in their view, also responsible for causing climate change, moving away from it and curbing the economic growth on which it turns will help kill two birds with one stone.

Arguments like these recall and are directly influenced by a famous scientific report from 50 years ago called Limits to Growth. Written by a group of researchers commissioned by the Club of Rome think tank, it warned of an “overshoot and collapse” of the global economy within 100 years.

The researchers forecast that this decline would be caused by exponential growth in populations, industrialisation, pollution, food production and resource depletion. The answer, they said, was to move to a state of economic and ecological stability that would be sustainable far into the future.


When the oil crisis of October 1973 to March 1974 saw oil prices quadrupling, it was seen as vindicating the report’s prediction of a dramatic surge in the price of oil. A famous Newsweek edition from late 1973 ran with the headline “Running out of everything”, next to a picture of Uncle Sam looking into an empty cornucopia.

Yet contrary to the predictions in the Limits report, the oil shock was not caused by resource scarcity but by geopolitics. The Saudis and oil-supplier cartel Opec had imposed an oil embargo on the west to protest the US arming Israel in its wars against Syria and Egypt.

A similar misapprehension lies at the heart of the arguments by today’s degrowthers over the cost of living crisis. The oil and gas shortages causing soaring prices are mainly due to the Ukraine war and a fall in supplies due to the majors investing less in production because of the net zero agenda.

Wrongheaded economics

Not only did the writers of the Limits report predict a spike in oil prices for the wrong reasons, they also failed to consider how the market would respond. Higher prices reduced demand and incentivised energy efficient investment and oil exploration, with major new reserves being identified.

Growth has not (yet) been constrained by a lack of resources, partly because technological advances enable us to generate more from less, and partly because of market forces. When a product or commodity becomes more expensive, people either use less of it or switch to an alternative.

So the reality is that inflation may well subside over time, depending of course on what central banks do with monetary policy. Equally, pursuing degrowth could be inflationary or deflationary. It depends on whether the supply of goods and services falls further than the demand.

Both in the 1970s and today, one of the main issues is a fundamental misunderstanding of what economic growth is and what drives it. It is seen as being quantity driven, in the sense that degrowthers think there is an insatiable demand for more of the same, which will eventually have “devastating consequences for the living world”.

But economic growth is more about quality than quantity. It’s not just about producing more cars, for example, but about making them more fuel efficient or electric. This in turn creates demand for different resources, such as lithium for batteries.

Or to give another example of how economists view growth, one important study looked at how the price of a unit of light fell over time. This was because as technology shifted from candles to modern light bulbs, the cost of production in terms of hours worked fell dramatically.

Yet in another respect, the degrowthers are entirely right. Again, it’s worth looking back at the Limits report to understand this. To test their base case, the researchers looked at various alternative scenarios for how the future might pan out.

In one, they assumed that the world’s stock of available non-renewable resources doubled. This meant that scarcity was less of a problem than in their base case. But they predicted that, rather than averting catastrophe, this would instead cause damaging increases in pollution associated with economic activity.

Pollution has indeed become a bigger issue than resource constraints. For example, Limits predicted that CO₂ concentration in the atmosphere would reach 435 parts per million (ppm) by 2022 if trends in fossil fuel consumption continued unabated. It is currently 421ppm, so they were fairly close. It is this linkage between environmental harm and the economy that is the report’s most important legacy.

Managing the wealth of nations

After the Limits thesis, economists began incorporating the idea of finite resources more explicitly into models of economic growth. This formed the basis of the economic approach to sustainable development, which says that you achieve intergenerational equity by reinvesting the proceeds from finite resources into other assets like buildings, machines or tools.

For example, if US$1 of oil is extracted from the ground, US$1 should be reinvested elsewhere. Though still far from universally adopted, some oil-producing nations such as Norway do this.

A related idea is that we should move away from thinking about growth of national income and instead focus on managing national wealth. Wealth in this context refers to all assets from which people obtain wellbeing, and changes in wealth per capita – referred to in the field as “genuine saving” – are indicators of whether development is sustainable.

The key is to put the right price on different types of assets, including taking into account damage from pollution. For example carbon is clearly very important when valuing changes in wealth. The following chart uses our calculations to show an alternative to using GDP to measure progress over the 20th century.

How per capita ‘wealth’ changed over the 20th century

Graph showing growth in wealth per capita and GDP in the world over the 20th century
Authors' data/Our World in Data

Rather than encouraging degrowth, it is now accepted by most environmental economists that this measure of human wealth is a useful complement to GDP. This is being taken increasingly seriously by governments. For example, the US recently announced it would start accounting for its natural assets.

But if we are to win the argument about changing the basis on which we measure human progress, it is vital that we are clear about the reasons for doing so. Believing that economic growth is inherently bad is not helpful.

Eoin McLaughlin receives funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Project P19-0048:1, "Genuine Savings as a measure of sustainable development. Towards a GDP replacement."

Cristián Ducoing receives funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Project P19-0048:1, "Genuine Savings as a measure of sustainable development. Towards a GDP replacement."

Les Oxley receives funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Project P19-0048:1, "Genuine Savings as a measure of sustainable development. Towards a GDP replacement".

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Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19…



Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19 vaccination weakens the immune system, potentially making people susceptible to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, according to a new study.

A man is given a COVID-19 vaccine in Chelsea, Mass., on Feb. 16, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines lead to higher levels of antibodies called IgG4, which can provide a protective effect. But a growing body of evidence indicates that the “abnormally high levels” of the immunoglobulin subclass actually make the immune system more susceptible to the COVID-19 spike protein in the vaccines, researchers said in the paper.

They pointed to experiments performed on mice that found multiple boosters on top of the initial COVID-19 vaccination “significantly decreased” protection against both the Delta and Omicron virus variants and testing that found a spike in IgG4 levels after repeat Pfizer vaccination, suggesting immune exhaustion.

Studies have detected higher levels of IgG4 in people who died with COVID-19 when compared to those who recovered and linked the levels with another known determinant of COVID-19-related mortality, the researchers also noted.

A review of the literature also showed that vaccines against HIV, malaria, and pertussis also induce the production of IgG4.

“In sum, COVID-19 epidemiological studies cited in our work plus the failure of HIV, Malaria, and Pertussis vaccines constitute irrefutable evidence demonstrating that an increase in IgG4 levels impairs immune responses,” Alberto Rubio Casillas, a researcher with the biology laboratory at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and one of the authors of the new paper, told The Epoch Times via email.

The paper was published by the journal Vaccines in May.

Pfizer and Moderna officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Both companies utilize messenger RNA (mRNA) technology in their vaccines.

Dr. Robert Malone, who helped invent the technology, said the paper illustrates why he’s been warning about the negative effects of repeated vaccination.

“I warned that more jabs can result in what’s called high zone tolerance, of which the switch to IgG4 is one of the mechanisms. And now we have data that clearly demonstrate that’s occurring in the case of this as well as some other vaccines,” Malone, who wasn’t involved with the study, told The Epoch Times.

So it’s basically validating that this rush to administer and re-administer without having solid data to back those decisions was highly counterproductive and appears to have resulted in a cohort of people that are actually more susceptible to the disease.”

Possible Problems

The weakened immune systems brought about by repeated vaccination could lead to serious problems, including cancer, the researchers said.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 22:30

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Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Authored by Jessie Zhang via Thje Epoch…



Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Authored by Jessie Zhang via Thje Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

An Australian and Swedish investigation has found that among the hundreds of COVID-19 research papers that have been withdrawn, a retracted study linking the drug hydroxychloroquine to increased mortality was the most cited paper.

Hydroxychloroquine sulphate tablets. (Memories Over Mocha/Shutterstock)

With 1,360 citations at the time of data extraction, researchers in the field were still referring to the paper “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis” long after it was retracted.

Authors of the analysis involving the University of Wollongong, Linköping University, and Western Sydney Local Health District wrote (pdf) that “most researchers who cite retracted research do not identify that the paper is retracted, even when submitting long after the paper has been withdrawn.”

“This has serious implications for the reliability of published research and the academic literature, which need to be addressed,” they said.

Retraction is the final safeguard against academic error and misconduct, and thus a cornerstone of the entire process of knowledge generation.”

Scientists Question Findings

Over 100 medical professionals wrote an open letter, raising ten major issues with the paper.

These included the fact that there was “no ethics review” and “unusually small reported variances in baseline variables, interventions and outcomes,” as well as “no mention of the countries or hospitals that contributed to the data source and no acknowledgments to their contributions.”

A bottle of Hydroxychloroquine at the Medicine Shoppe in Wilkes-Barre, Pa on March 31, 2020. Some politicians and doctors were sparring over whether to use hydroxychloroquine against the new coronavirus, with many scientists saying the evidence is too thin to recommend it yet. (Mark Moran/The Citizens’ Voice via AP)

Other concerns were that the average daily doses of hydroxychloroquine were higher than the FDA-recommended amounts, which would present skewed results.

They also found that the data that was reportedly from Australian patients did not seem to match data from the Australian government.

Eventually, the study led the World Health Organization to temporarily suspend the trial of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients and to the UK regulatory body, MHRA, requesting the temporary pause of recruitment into all hydroxychloroquine trials in the UK.

France also changed its national recommendation of the drug in COVID-19 treatments and halted all trials.

Currently, a total of 337 research papers on COVID-19 have been retracted, according to Retraction Watch.

Further retractions are expected as the investigation of proceeds.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 17:30

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Complying, Not Defying: Twitter And The EU Censorship Code

Complying, Not Defying: Twitter And The EU Censorship Code

Authored by ‘Robert Kogon’ via The Brownstone Institute,

So, word has it that…



Complying, Not Defying: Twitter And The EU Censorship Code

Authored by 'Robert Kogon' via The Brownstone Institute,

So, word has it that Twitter has withdrawn from the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation, a fact that appears only to be known thanks to a couple of pissy tweets from EU officials. I cannot help but wonder if this is not finally Elon Musk’s response to the question I asked in my article here several weeks ago: namely, how can a self-styled “free-speech absolutist” be part of a “Permanent Task-Force on Disinformation” that is precisely a creation of the EU’s Code?

But does it matter? The answer is no. The withdrawal of Twitter’s signature from the Code is a highly theatrical, but essentially empty gesture, which will undoubtedly serve to shore up Musk’s free speech bad-boy bona fides, but has virtually no practical consequences. 

This is because: (1) as I have discussed in various articles (for instance, here and here), the effect of the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) is to render the hitherto ostensibly voluntary commitments undertaken in the Code obligatory for all so-called Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and (2) as discussed here, the European Commission just designated a whole series of entities as VLOPs that were never signatories of the Code.

Twitter is thus in no different a position than Amazon, Apple and Wikipedia, none of which were ever signatories of the Code, but all of which will be expected by the EU to comply with its censorship requirements on the pain of ruinous fines. 

As EU officials like to put it, the DSA transformed the “code of practice” into a code of conduct: i.e. you had better do it or else.

Compliance is thus not a matter of a signature. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And the fact of the matter is that Musk and Twitter are complying with the EU’s censorship requirements. Much of the programming that has gone into the Twitter algorithm is obviously designed for this very purpose.

What, for instance, are the below lines of code?

They are “safety labels” that have been included in the algorithm to restrict the visibility of alleged “misinformation.” Furthermore – leaving aside the handy “generic misinfo” catch-all – the general categories of “misinformation” used exactly mirror the main areas of concern targeted by the EU in its efforts to “regulate” online speech: “medical misinfo” in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, “civic misinfo” in the context of issues of electoral integrity, and “crisis misinfo” in the context of the war in Ukraine.

Indeed, as Elon Musk and his lawyers certainly know, the final version of the DSA includes a “crisis response mechanism,” (Art. 36) which is clearly modeled on the European Commission’s initially ad hoc response to the Ukraine crisis and which requires platforms to take special measures to mitigate crisis-related “misinformation.” 

In its January submission to the EU (see reports archive here), in the section devoted precisely to its efforts to combat Ukraine-war-related “misinformation,” Twitter writes (pp. 70-71): 

“We … use a combination of technology and human review to proactively identify misleading information. More than 65% of violative content is surfaced by our automated systems, and the majority of remaining content we enforce on is surfaced through regular monitoring by our internal teams and our work with trusted partners.”

How is this not compliance? Or at least a very vigorous effort to achieve it? And the methodology outlined is presumably used to “enforce on” other types of “mis-“ or “disinformation” as well.

Finally, what is the below notice, which many Twitter users recently received informing them that they are not eligible to participate in Twitter Ads because their account as such has been labeled “organic misinformation?”

Why in the world would Twitter turn away advertising business? The answer is simple and straightforward: because none other than the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation requires it to do so in connection with the so-called “demonetization of disinformation.” 

Thus, section II(d-f) of the Code reads:

(d) The Signatories recognise the need to combat the dissemination of harmful Disinformation via advertising messages and services.

(e) Relevant Signatories recognise the need to take granular and tailored action to address Disinformation risks linked to the distribution of online advertising. Actions will be applicable to all online advertising.

(f) Relevant Signatories recognise the importance of implementing policies and processes not to accept remuneration from Disinformation actors, or otherwise promote such accounts and websites.

So, in short, vis-à-vis the EU and its Code, Twitter is complying, not defying. Removing Twitter’s signature from the Code when its signature is no longer required on the Code anyway is not defiance. Among other things, not labeling content and/or users as “misinformation,” not restricting the visibility of content and/or users so labeled, and accepting advertising from whomever has the money to pay would be defiance.

But the EU’s response to such defiance would undoubtedly be something more than tweets. It would be the mobilization of the entire punitive arsenal contained in the DSA and, in particular, the threat or application of the DSA fines of 6 percent of the company’s global turnover.

It is not enough to (symbolically) withdraw from the Code of Practice to defy the EU. Defying the EU would require Twitter to withdraw from the EU altogether.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 10:30

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