Keywords: historicism, Karl Popper, Julian Simon, Bjorn Lomborg, environmental Kuznets curve, EKC, endogenous substitution, green economics
Historicism and the green backlash: a study of Julian Simon and Bjorn Lomborg
Popper described the core of 20th century ideologies of the far right and left as 'historicism' – the false belief that social development is literally determined by material factors and that every seemingly contingent sequence of historical events can be explained by a scientific 'law' of historical development. This concept can valuably be applied to present-day environmental 'sceptics' who argue that our historical experience of material progress was produced by underlying economic laws, which will inevitably ensure that humankind will surmount obstacles such as resource depletion and global warming. This essay focuses on the writings of Simon and Lomborg, while drawing attention to the ideas on which they draw and the influence which they have enjoyed.