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An Economist Explores the Unintended Consequences of Man's Quest for Short-Term Gains from 1493 to Today

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In a column today on, Biodiversity and the Environment: Silent Spring For Us?, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, an American economist and assistant secretary of the treasury during the Reagan Administration, explores how the "now generation" is devastating our environment and human health. He traces how man's greed and creation of "new technologies" to extract the Earth's resources for maximum profit at the lowest cost has caused the "unintended and unexpected" exploitation of the world's natural resources and human health—from 1493 to today.

He references the book 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann that chronicles how colonialism united two isolated continents with different plant life and illnesses, ultimately leading to the "international transfer of human and plant diseases, deforestation, destructions of peoples and empires..." and globalism, Dr. Roberts writes.

The consequences stem from "the actions of elites and of those that elites dominated." Dr. Roberts explains that the first slaves were the Indians, who had no immunity to European diseases.

Following European invasion, the initial environmental destruction resulted primarily from deforestation, which lead to flooding, and the washing away of soils and crops in the fertile valleys.

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A growing population put increased pressure on our natural resources. With new technologies—deforestation, offshore oil drilling, fracking, mountain top removal mining, and modern agribusiness including chemical farming and genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—has come unintended destruction.

Fracking and mountaintop removal mining have polluted our ground waters, forcing ranchers and farmers out of work and contaminating drinking water, which has been linked to a host of fatal diseases.

Most recently, chemical farming and the creation of GMO seeds to produce crops resistant to herbicides have presented severe threats to the environment and human health. GMO crops are stripped of critical nutritional value and have been linked to an increase in animal and human infertility, Dr. Roberts writes in reference to plant pathologist and soil microbiologist Don Huber's 2011 letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The genetically engineered crops additionally strip soil of its fertility, causing toxic effects on microorganisms, thus disrupting nature's balance.

"Thus, the planet can be destroyed by the short-term profit and convenience interests of one generation," Dr. Roberts writes.

Dr. Roberts’ latest book is Economies in Collapse: The Failure of Globalism, published in Europe, June, 2012. Read his full column at