"A lot of the environmentalists are also concerned about global poverty. We've got to harness nature for prosperity rather than just lock it up in a museum case. I think a lot of environmentalists want to pretend that there's no conflict between preserving nature and ending global poverty — but there is. The ostriches just have to be made to think about their children. But I think most people are responsible about making sure that they don't plunder nature. So I think that the ostriches are rare."
Collier says we are custodians of natural assets, and ethically obliged to pass on to future generations the equivalent value of assets we were bequeathed by past generations. He's troubled by the ethics of food for fuel, for example — seeing biofuels as a sort of scam, with huge agricultural subsidies.
"It's not, first and foremost, about generating fuel. If it was about generating fuel, you'd be encouraging Brazil to produce ethanol in Brazil — sugar cane into ethanol, just vastly more efficient than grain into ethanol. But instead, you've actually imposed import restrictions on ethanol coming from Brazil. So this was all about agricultural protections in America rather than about energy efficiency and energy self-sufficiency."
Collier says there is no substitute for asking whether we can convert natural assets into something more or less valuable to the future than the assets themselves. Ed Mayberry, KUHF News.