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Pierre Desrochers

Articles by Pierre Desrochers

James Watt: “Bringing the Treasures of the Abyss to the Summit of the Earth.”

March 13, 2022

In his opening speech at the recent 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told politicians and activists they were meeting in the city where, 250 years before, James Watt “came up with a machine that was powered by steam that was produced by burning coal.” In Johnson’s take, Glasgow was the birthplace of the ticking “doomsday machine” that heroic eco-worriers, much like the (imaginary) Scotsman James Bond, had to defuse before it was too late.
Some locals have also defamed Watt and his legacy. High ranking officials for the University of Glasgow thus tried to appease a few Extinction Rebellion activists dressed in modern clothing who had chained their necks to their institution’s gate. Instead

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Regenerative Agriculture and the Denial of Comparative Advantage: Part 3

January 23, 2022

Agricultural Productivity and Standards of Living
There was a time not too long ago when most people understood that comparative advantage, trade, the division of labor and specialization delivered greater agricultural productivity and standards of living. Perhaps because they or members of their extended family weren’t all that removed from quasi-subsistence farming, they saw the virtues of specializing in the production of “cash crops” for which there were lucrative and often distant urban markets. By participating in a larger division of labor in which they concentrated on what their land was best suited for, commercial farmers achieved a much higher standard of living for themselves and others.
A well-documented historical case in the transition from

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Ancient Wisdom on Climate and Society, Part 2

December 13, 2021

Physiologist Jared Diamond’s 1997 Guns, Germs, and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies is a rare publishing phenomenon. An ambitious yet accessible study on the development of human civilization, it won a Pulitzer Prize, sold over a million copies, was translated into 36 languages, turned up on college reading lists everywhere, and was eventually made into a 3-part National Geographic TV series.
What impressed many reviewers was, in the words of the National Geographic narrator, Diamond’s “highly original theory that what separates the winners from the losers is the land itself – geography. It was the shape of the continents, their crops and animals that allowed some cultures to flourish while others were left behind.” Yet, as illustrated by the fact he buried

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Resourceful Earth Day (celebrate freedom, innovation)

April 22, 2016

Reprinted from MasterResource
“What many environmentalists seem incapable of understanding is that resources are created. After all, crude oil is just sludge until you get it out of the ground and figure out how to use it as an energy source.”
“This Earth Day, we should all give two green thumbs up for human freedom and innovation.”
There is a certain fringe of the environmentalist movement whose members have almost nothing good to say about their fellow men and women. If not for humans, they sometimes explicitly argue, the Earth would be a wonderful place. The lion might not lie down with the lamb, but at least “nature” would be allowed to run its course unobstructed by humankind—which in their reckoning is somehow not a part of nature.
Admittedly, humans have a particular nature that sets them apart from the rest of the fauna on this planet. We do not just inhabit the Earth; we shape it, and far more extensively than any other species does. Beavers may build dams, but they don’t build Hoover Dams.
Yet are the actions of human beings necessarily harmful to other parts of nature? Are we truly like a cancer in the breast of Mother Earth?
The notion that nature is fragile and humans a threat dates back a lot further than 1970 and the first Earth Day chastisements.

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