"By pursuing his own interest [every individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." ~ Adam Smith
Save The Trees
Many of us middle-aged curmudgeons grew up in the early 1970s. For a six-year-old with no knowledge of Vietnam , it was an idyllic time. I recall a great emphasis on the environment, except we used the buzzword "ecology." Marvin Gaye sang about it. The television broadcast numerous public service commercials about it. Activists founded many of today's well-known environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace.
Default">The beauty of nature compels even the most heartless old curmudgeons. How could anyone hate clean air, pure water, and lots of trees? An idealistic child certainly could not. We learned to recycle. We learned not to throw our trash on the roadside, lest we make native Americans cry. We learned that big automobiles spewed noxious fumes into the atmosphere, and that we could burn cleaner fuels to help clear the air.
Default">My father raised me with Depression-era morals. Don't waste anything; respect other people and property. Recycling made sense. Throwing trash on the roadside at native Americans disrespected not only the native Americans but also the owners of the land. Driving a gas guzzler simply wasted money. I was willing to listen.
Default">I'll be the first to admit that the attention to our common natural resources was sorely needed. But as causes tend to do, the environmental movement changed from a kindly, well-meaning father to a bastard evil stepson who mouths off at you and would prefer to see you dead. Literally.
Default">The message from the environmental groups grew more shrill and hostile. As the environment actually improved, predictions turned more dire. Environmentalists first taught us how greedy, evil corporations were destroying the planet, and then taught us how we were all responsible for destroying the planet.
Default">Fortunately, the extreme environmentalists had a solution in mind. This solution is in accord with that of today's Muslim fundamentalist terrorists: both clubs want you and your miserable capitalistic existence exterminated. Except the environmentalists are worse--they would just as soon see all of humanity exterminated, not only the capitalists. You are the enemy. (I suppose the environmentalists somehow see themselves as a better class of humans, otherwise they'd help the cause by killing themselves first.)
Default">My favorite quote comes from David Graber, who said this while working for the United States National Park Service in the late 1980s: "We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth . . . some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along." That's a representative quote, not an anomaly.
Default">The brow-beating over the environment started to work. It made me feel bad about myself and humanity.
Default">The environmentalists screamed about the falling sky and the population explosion more than 30 years ago. There was no way we would be able to feed all the billions of extra hungry mouths come the turn of the century. Silly me, I thought they actually wanted to solve the problem of how to feed the hungry.
Default">We did solve world hunger! We can now feed vast amounts of people on far less land with far less waste through modern agriculture. The only people that truly starve to death today do so because of politics and greedy governments. And I was wrong about the intentions of the environmentalists. Damn the hungry, they only wanted less people; they wanted millions of starving, fly-plagued third world peasants to stop breeding and die.
Default">Today, environmentalists want you to purchase costlier organic food that comes from organic farms. I give them good capitalist credit for being able to increase the price on food items that are no healthier than non-organics. But their goal is not to make you healthier. The environmentalists resist successful mass food production. Organic farming by definition takes considerably more land and generates far less produce. Less produce means less food to go around means more starving peasants dead sooner.
Default">So far, I've no doubt come across like an anti-environmentalist, right-conservative nut job. I may be a nut job, but none of the other labels that they would paint me with are true. I love the environment. I respect it to the extent that is reasonable. I live in a beautiful city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains , with electric-blue sky and crystal-clear tap water. No way do I want to see this tainted.
Default">Back to my feeling bad about myself: How could I reconcile my belief in capitalism and liberty with environmental concerns? Discovering libertarianism provided me with many answers. The government is one of the worst offenders when it comes to destroying the environment. The government has done a poor job of stewarding its lands. Libertarians believe that private land owners do a better job of protecting their investment, which means ensuring that they or others aren't destroying it. Land given up by the government for free use is abused. Land held privately, at continually improving market values, is well-kept.
Default">Patrick Moore, my modern-day environmentalist hero, provided me with more answers. Moore was one of the founders of Greenpeace, but has lately led the charge for responsible, economically sound environmentalist policy. Wired magazine recently painted him as an "eco traitor," an interesting take for a company, the chief product of which kills trees on a regular basis. (And unnecessarily so, I might add, seeing that Wired is a forerunner amongst high tech publications. Wired should be able to figure out how to survive solely on the World Wide Web. That is, if they were honest about the politics they preached.)
Default">Moore suggests that "trees are the answer." Trees, unlike fossil fuels and metals, are renewable resources. Contrary to what you might believe, we have more trees today than 70 years ago. A lot of unfortunate myths surround activities like logging and clear cutting. Moore dispels a lot of these myths on his web site, Greenspirit.com.
Default">One interesting point Moore makes is with respect to biodiversity--the measure of the variety of organisms found in a given area. On a scale of 0 to 100, a spanking new parking lot ranks close to zero; almost no useful life will exist on it for generations to come. But a bunch of trees, regardless of whether they comprise an "original growth" forest or a previously logged forest, measures at around 100 on the biodiversity meter. While the environmentalists search for the minute distinctions about the variety of life in logged forests, no honest person would argue that having more trees is a bad thing.
Default">Moore recognizes reality, and promotes realistic policies for sensible growth. He doesn't hate the environment, nor do I; we both love it. Nor do the Republicans, but they do need to learn how we can respect the environment and prosper at the same time. Spread the word.
Default">The environmentalists, on the other hand, want to legislate and scare you into killing yourself. They don't believe in capitalism; they don't believe in your right to freely manage your own property. They offer few realistic solutions. The few solutions they do propose are so extreme and costly that they will probably never see the light of day. The extreme environmentalists aren't solving any problems.
Default">I have grown out of my 6-year-old idealism, but the anti-human environmentalists never will. Idealism in the hands of an angry adult is the club by which they beat us.