Shellenberger Rebuts MoJo RE: Sri Lanka

Thursday, September 22, 2022

I'm glad to see that John Stossel has written about Sri Lanka's centrally-planned "organic" farming debacle. This is first and foremost because the story has gotten much less attention than it deserves, even as some Western countries are getting ready to make the same mistake.

Many more people need to know about this.

On top of that, the fact that this story isn't all over the place doesn't mean that the left isn't busy crafting a narrative to cover its tracks, as Stossel notes and addresses in this exchange with Michael Shellenberger, author of Apocalypse Never:

Mother Jones has been spreading manure about manure since Sri Lanka's collapse. (Image by Malene Thyssen, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
"Why can't we just make more organic manure?" I ask.

"It takes twice as much land to produce all the cows that you need to get the manure," he explains. "Synthetic fertilizers are a friend to saving nature because they reduce how much land we need."

Now the environmental purists make excuses for Sri Lanka.

Mother Jones said it's "ridiculous to single out [the fertilizer ban] as the 'underlying' cause, as Shellenberger did." Others say that Sri Lanka just needed time to adjust to organic farming.

"You might be able to become poorer over five or 10 years, rather than over six months," replies Shellenberger. "But the result will be the same."

I push back. "There were other causes of the problems: higher oil prices, COVID, other stuff happened."

"But those same problems affected other countries where the economies did not collapse," he replies. "What made the difference in Sri Lanka was its fertilizer ban."
Sri Lanka came up recently in a conversation, and, although I think I did an okay job giving some of this background, I found myself wishing there were a short, clear piece about it that I could refer others to. Now there is one, and as a bonus, its clear example of a respected left-wing outlet running interference for a failed policy will also be instructive for thinking, persuadable adults.

-- CAV

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