Monday, April 19, 2010

Environmentalism In the Balance

In April many celebrate "Earth Day."  It began in 1970, so we were at ED40.  We ought to celebrate "Earth Day" with all the enthusiasm that the British celebrate the 4th of July.

A broad range of people and groups are called "environmentalist."  Some are really wacky, like Earth First!, while others, like the Sierra Club, go for a more main-stream image.  But when you examine environmentalists of all sorts, you do find some common themes.

According to environmentalists, people and their productive activities are a problem at best, and a plague at worst, for the earth.  For example, Thomas Lovejoy, tropical biologist and assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, has said, "The planet is about to break out with fever . . . and we are the disease.  We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles."  -- does this Lovejoy fellow have the wrong last name, or what?

According to environmentalists, the problems caused by people are leading to an imminent catastrophe for the earth.  According to environmentalists, the only way to avert this catastrophe is by immediate and massive government control of the activities of people.

You can see that it has some stressful internal tensions.  Some of these internal tensions are amusing.

Environmentalists are always concerned about the things people do.  People, according to many environmentalists, get in the way of "nature."  I find this at least a little amusing because, according to most moderns, human beings are a part of "nature."  "But," the environmentalists often say, "human beings change nature."  Well, so do many other things that are part of "nature."  The vast herds of American bison that roamed North America at one time left some definite changes in their wake.  (Think about that for a moment!)  But they are not condemned by environmentalists -- only human beings are worthy of such condemnation!  After reading some environmentalists on the problems that people cause, one wonders why many of the environmentalists don't just link up with Jack Kavorkian and begin to solve the problem by killing themselves.

Next we come to all those problems caused by people.  One amusing little tension here is this:  environmentalists often worry about people -- about there being too many people.  Then they worry about the alleged disasters that human beings are going to cause.  But they seem to forget that if these catastrophes are going to be as destructive as they claim, they would get rid of most of the human population, thus solving the problem of "too many people and their pollution."

Environmentalists are sometimes anti-technology.  The "Unabomber" made clear that he was blowing people up, in part, because of their connection to technology.  One of the items found in the Unabomber’s hideout was a marked-up copy of Al Gore’s book Earth In the Balance.  When you think of what the alternative to much modern technology is (harder work, more suffering, and earlier death, to name a few things!) it is hard to sympathize with this -- but don't forget, most environmentalists think there are too many people anyway, so to them some death is always a good thing, as long as it is someone else.

But the environmentalist funnies don't stop there.  To solve the problems allegedly caused by people, the environmentalists want the government to do something.  This is amusing for a couple of reasons.  First, environmentalists usually believe that "small is beautiful."  They want to decentralize production, scale-down the economy, simplify life, and make everyone “economically independent” - which is another way of saying “poor.”  But if anyone decides not to go along with these moves, the environmentalists want a big, powerful, centralized government to force you to do it!

It seems to escape the notice of the environmentalists of our world that governments are composed of people!  Of course, as the environmentalists envision this, these government people are not just common, ordinary, stupid people.  They are upstanding, intelligent environmentalists like Al Gore.  Such human beings transcend the frailties and ignorance of mere mortals.  They are the elite.  They are the priests of the religion of environmentalism.

For all of the amusement that can be derived from environmentalism's internal tensions, there is plenty to cause alarm in the posture and program of environmentalism.

One problem with environmentalists is their lack of honesty.  Most environmentalists want the state to take action to curb the current productive practices of human beings.  They want government action, and they want it now.  They do not want humans doing anything that might change the earth.  But human beings do not change easily, or without some compelling reason.

Environmentalists need an impending disaster.  A mere problem to be studied and solved is not sufficient.  In fact, one thing that bothers a lot of environmentalists is that when careful, scientific studies are done on the problems that concern environmentalists, the seriousness of the problem often pales in the light of the evidence, and the solutions proposed are just not drastic enough to suit the environmentalist mentality.

I have, in effect (in case you missed it in this mess of verbiage) just called many environmentalists a bunch of liars.

Consider an admission from Stephen Schneider.  He is a scientist who went from "we are all going to die from global cooling" in the '70s to a "we are all going to die from global warming" in the '80s.  In one of his more honest moments of self-examination, he said this:

On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but -- which means we must include all the doubts, caveats and ifs, ands, and buts . . .On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well.  And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change.  To do that we need to get some broad-base support, to capture the public's imagination.  That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage.  So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified,  dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.  This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula.  Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

We could try to help Mr. Schneider decide what the right "balance" is by reminding him that it is the truth that sets us free.  But at key junctures and at important points, environmentalists have taken pains not to reveal the truth.

The truth is this: Earth Day is the Pentecost of the Environmentalist religion.  It is a religion whose god is ‘nature.’  This religion despises humanity, even though it is the religion of many human beings.  It is a religion that is welcomed in the government’s schools, where Christianity is not.  Most of all, it is a religion of lies.

No comments: