Scare-mongering, Gandhian self-denial etc

Bjorn Lomborg wrote recently about how the Goreans – catastrophiliacs – will make great horror film makers. They scare people silly-

The continuous presentation of scary stories about global warming in the popular media makes us unnecessarily frightened. Even worse, it terrifies our kids.


In the US, the ABC television network recently reported that psychologists are starting to see more neuroses in people anxious about climate change. An article in the Washington Post cited nine-year-old Alyssa, who cries about the possibility of mass animal extinctions from global warming. In her words: “I don’t like global warming because it kills animals, and I like animals.” From a child who is yet to lose all her baby teeth: “I worry about [global warming] because I don’t want to die.”

The newspaper also reported that parents are searching for “productive” outlets for their eight-year-olds’ obsessions with dying polar bears. They might be better off educating them and letting them know that, contrary to common belief, the global polar bear population has doubled and perhaps even quadrupled over the past half-century, to about 22,000. Despite diminishing – and eventually disappearing – summer Arctic ice, polar bears will not become extinct. After all, in the first part of the current interglacial period, glaciers were almost entirely absent in the northern hemisphere, and the Arctic was probably ice-free for 1,000 years, yet polar bears are still with us.

Another nine-year old showed the Washington Post his drawing of a global warming timeline. “That’s the Earth now,” Alex says, pointing to a dark shape at the bottom. “And then it’s just starting to fade away.” Looking up to make sure his mother is following along, he taps the end of the drawing: “In 20 years, there’s no oxygen.” Then, to dramatise the point, he collapses, “dead”, to the floor.

And these are not just two freak stories. In a new survey of 500 American pre-teens, it was found that one in three children, aged between six and 11, feared that the earth would not exist when they reach adulthood because of global warming and other environmental threats. An unbelievable one-third of our children believe that they don’t have a future because of scary global warming stories.

Since I believe in free speech, I think the catastrophiliacs have every right to scare people. Parents should keep kids away from Gorean propaganda. That should do the trick.

Mira Kamdar writes

The die was cast for India’s development path on July 22, 1947, when India’s Constituent Assembly resolved to replace Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel, or charka, with the emperor Ashoka’s wheel of dharma on the Indian national flag. The move symbolically rejected what the incoming government abandoned upon assuming office: Gandhi’s vision of an equitable and sustainable agrarian society based on self-sufficient, pared-down consumption.

For Gandhi, the spinning wheel symbolized the need to assume personal responsibility for consumption as a first step toward achieving justice and freedom for all. But Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, believed in industrialization and urbanization, famously calling the new mega-dam projects his government underwrote the “temples of modern India.”


When asked what he thought about Western civilization, Gandhi famously replied, “It would be a good idea.” He also said that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” For Gandhi, greed led to violence, violence to militarism, militarism to war, and war to annihilation. His philosophy of non-violence was aimed at the most basic form of human aggression: the appetite for more than one’s share.

India’s essential challenge is to take up Gandhi’s mantle and boldly imagine a future that is different from the West’s present. Of course, no one is under the illusion that India or any other country will abandon its cities for a life as simple as the one Gandhi strove to live; but that doesn’t mean that India can’t look to Gandhi’s core values for inspiration.


Nehru’s vision has had a good run; now it is time to bring back Gandhi’s.

There exist people in this world whose ethics consists of keeping people backward, denying them the “good life” which a free market can provide, and reducing their average life span – by force. All this would have been the consequence of Gandhian socialism, if it had been implemented. Thankfully, the man believed in non-violence more than he did in self-reliance. Regrettably, his disciple Nehru believed in soviet style state coercion more than he did in development. That’s why India is the way it is. But I guess it wouldn’t have mattered either way – if a majority of Indians really did believe in freedom, they could have had it any day they wanted.

Anyway, here’s what Mises wrote half a century ago about, for lack of a better phrase, Gandhian hypocrisy-

Mahatma Gandhi expresses a loathing for the devices of the petty West and of devilish capitalism. But he travels by railroad or by motor car and, when ill, goes for treatment to a hospital equipped with the most refined instruments of Western surgery. It does not seem to occur to him that Western capital alone made it possible for the Hindus to enjoy these facilities.

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  • you12  On June 18, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    I believe she is mistaken, Wasn’t Nehru the one who said cities are un-indian?

    Although I don’t think its a deliberate attempt to put people in misery. The likes of Kamdar haven’t really analyzed the errors of their ways. The snobs always love socialism because they get to decide whats good for everyone, instead of a market where everyone decides on their own. Its not a matter of ethics its pure snobbery.

    I suspect just like Gandhi, Kamdar isn’t able to sense her own hypocrisy. The eye cannot see itself. But then again everyone is a hypocrite. Everyone.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On June 19, 2009 at 2:04 am

      # “Wasn’t Nehru the one who said cities are un-indian?”
      Don’t know if he said that, but it was Gandhi who absolutely loved the Stone Age. Nehru, as far as I can tell, was a socialist of the scientific variety – basically a Marxist minus the dogma. Land redistribution + state ownership + technology = development.

      # “Its not a matter of ethics its pure snobbery.”
      Some of them are snobs, but most of them believe that they are indulging in acts of virtue by doing all this – redistribution, asceticism etc. Idiots.

      # “But then again everyone is a hypocrite. Everyone.”
      I agree. Haven’t met anyone who isn’t – the one I see in the mirror each day is one too. But again, there are degrees of hypocrisy. Given Gandhi’s status, he is right there at the top. Maybe he believed in Schopenhauer’s principle that a philosopher need not be a saint, and vice versa.

  • MCLA  On June 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for Mises’s money quote on Gandhi! Where did you find it?


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