Environmentalism: RETURN TO EDEN OR TICKET TO HELL?
By Kathleen Marquardt
"Environmentalism" is a word we hear almost everyday, but what does it mean? My dictionary does not define environmentalism but it defines environmentalist as "an expert on environmental problems; any person who advocates or works to protect the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution or its effects." Thus environmentalism would be the act of protecting the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution or its effects. Protecting our natural resources from pollution or its effects, that sounds reasonable. As such we are all environmentalists, right? None of us is out to pollute or even to protect polluters.
Protecting natural resources is what environmentalism is supposed to be about, but is it?
First, let us look at our environmental track record here in the United States. The Index of Leading Environmental Indicators findings include: The threat posed by air pollution to public health and the environment has been greatly reduced. Air quality in the U.S. has improved over 40% since 1980. Wetlands are not in danger of disappearing. Since 1980, the U.S. has suffered no net loss in wetlands. The U.S. is not on the verge of an energy crisis. The U.S. consumes only 85 % of the energy it produces. The threat of acid rain is diminishing. Emissions of sulfur dioxide, acid rain's chief cause, fell 32.2% between 1970 and 1994. Smog is a substantially smaller problem. The amount of ground level ozone, smog's primary component, fell in the U.S. by nearly 20% between 1979 and 1993. The threat of lead poisoning has been almost nullified; ambient lead concentration fell 97.1% between 1975 and 1992.
On top of that, the amount of particulates spewed into the air fell by 64%, carbon monoxide emissions dropped by 38 percent, and releases of volatile organic compounds fell by 29 %. Ocean dumping of industrial wastes was reduced 94%. There were 84% fewer cities without adequate sewage treatment plants.
It is a measurable fact, we are doing a good job of cleaning up our pollution. Yet everyday we are bombarded with gloom and doom on the environmental front.
The EPA just pushed through far more stringent air quality standards in spite of the fact that not only was the Clinton Administration against them, but EPA's own scientific advisory committee raised serious concerns about the underlying scientific evidence available to support the standards.
We are told that warming is happening as we speak in spite of the fact that the government's own satellite measurements over the last 18 years show a very slight cooling of -.037 degrees Celsius per decade (or 1/3 degree every 100 years).
Remember the Alar scare? The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Ralph Nader called Alar a carcinogen and, using the TV program Sixty Minutes, tried to have it banned. In a report, "Intolerable Risk: Pesticides In Our Children's Food," the NRDC called Alar "The most potent cancer-causing agent in our food supply."
The truth turned out to be quite different. If a person drank a six-ounce glass of apple juice a day during a lifetime of 70 years the possible carcinogenic potential is 0.0017, less than the poisonous content of a single mushroom or of the alcohol consumed in one's daily glass of orange juice.
I could go on for hours about the scare stories that turned out to be nothing but hoaxes -- Love Canal, Times Beach, DDT, Radon, the ozone hole, the greenhouse effect, Bovine Growth Hormone, the coming Ice Age, the population bomb, and on and on. The point is: Why? Why are we being bombarded with environmental threats that are not real?
Assault On Fact and Logic
I'll tell you why. Environmentalists want us to be afraid. Afraid of what we are doing to the earth and its inhabitants. Afraid there will be no natural resources left for our children and grandchildren. Afraid enough to be willing to be taxed and regulated even more to provide for environmental protection.
Listen to this quote from Jonathan Schell, (New Yorker writer and author of The Fate of the Earth), "There seems to be disagreement and uncertainty with the science. But the consequences of this or that possible threat are so dangerous that, as an act of prudence, we can't afford to wait until all the facts are in. We have to act as if the threat were real."
He explains: "In the past, action usually awaited the confirmation of theory by hard evidence. Now, in a widening sphere of decisions, the costs of error are so exorbitant that we need to act on theory alone -- which is to say on prediction alone."
He is seconded by Al Gore in his book Earth in the Balance, where in respect to global warming he writes "it is the most serious threat that we have ever faced, and we must act boldly, decisively, comprehensively, and quickly, even before we know every last detail about the crisis."
Gore says of skeptics "Their theories should not be given equal weight with the consensus now emerging in the scientific community about the gravity of the danger we face. If, when the remaining unknowns about the environmental challenge enter the public debate, they are presented as signs that the crisis may not be real after all, it undermines the effort to build a solid base of public support for the difficult actions we must soon take."
Have you noted in all of the above how little science, how few facts are used, actually how facts are rejected? If the concern of these people and groups is to rid the earth of pollution, do they think that this goal will be accomplished only through exagerations, misstatements, and outright lies? Do they think that we care so little about the enviroment that we will not protect it unless we believe that it is in its final death throes?
I suggest to you that the environmental movement is not about plants and animals and rocks and trees, other than as tools for their real aims. Listen to some quotes from noted environmentalists and see what you think.
Peter Berle, the recent past-President of the National Audubon Society says, "We reject the idea of private property."
Another environmentalist proclaims, "Not until mankind gives up the European notion of private property and use of the earth's resources for our own purposes will we cease our war with earth and be in harmony with her."
Ingrid Newkirk, founder of People for the ethical Treatment of Animals says, "Pet ownership is slavery," and "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or be entertained by."
Helen Caldicott of the Union of Concerned Scientists says, "Free enterprise really means rich people get richer. They have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process.... Capitalism is destroying the earth."
According to Canadian zoology professor David Suzuki, "Economics is a very species-chauvinistic idea. No other species on earth -- and there may be 30 million of them -- has had the nerve to put forth a concept called economics, in which one species, us, declares the right to put value on everything else on earth, in the living and non-living world."
A participant at the 1992 Environmental Grantmakers Association annual meeting proclaimed, "if it means shutting a plant down, or it means stopping a pulp mill. . . that's what has to happen. There are local communities that are going to go over the abyss in the short run. It's gonna be either a different kind of economy or it's not gonna be there."
In the same vein, David Brower, former executive director of the Sierra Club and founder of Friends of the Earth said in a speech September 23, 1992 at Whistler, British Columbia, "Loggers losing their jobs because of spotted owl legislation is, in my eyes, no different than people being out of work after the furnaces of Dachau shut down.
PeTA's Newkirk says, "I think Ned Ludd had the right idea and we should have stopped all the machinery way back when and learned to live simple lives."
A Friends of the Earth publication asserts, "The only really good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation levied by an elitist species upon the rest of the natural world."
New Age author Alice Bailey claims that traditional science hinders the path to self-realization by producing an "over-development of the analytical mind," which must be subverted. She claims "the material world is an illusion; reality is in the mind of higher consciousness."
At a symposium on whaling held in Washington, D.C. a few years ago, a participant said that science was just another religion. And no one questioned his statement. If we are willing to relegate science to the sphere of religion, which is what the Greens are trying to foist on us, then we must also abandon objective logic and accept their changing the meanings of words, which leads to moral relativism, which in turn begets anarchy.
Target - Western Culture
This is not enviromentalism we are hearing about -- it is politics, the politics of elitism, it is the politics of socialism under a banner of green. These people are condemning private property, free enterprise, technology, and western culture. And they are using the environment as a sledge hammer to destroy each of these concepts that we Americans hold dear.
What are their ends? you ask. Again, listen to their words: Maurice Strong, primary designer of the Earth Summit asked, "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" Futurist Barry Commoner writes that "nothing less than a change in the political and social system, including revision of the Constitution, is necessary to save the country from destroying the natural environment." He adds, "capitalism is the earth's number one enemy." Taking Commoner one step further, Judi Bari of Earth First! says, "I think if we don't overthrow capitalism, we don't have a chance of saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have an ecologically sound society under socialism. I don't think it is possible under capitalism."
What we are hearing are attacks on private property rights, technology, capitalism, western culture -- even logic. How does this save the environment?
A study of the environmental movement shows that once upon a time it really was about cleaning up pollution in our rivers, air, and ground. But with the first Earth Day in 1970, the thrust of environmentalism was altered. The counterculture movement, seeing environmentalism as a defining issue of the century, took over the leadership. Using the environmental hook, their goal now is "a socialist, redistributionist society, which they claim is nature's proper steward and society's only hope." And, being the radicals that they are, they believe that the ends justify the means.
Do the leaders of the environmental movement really believe that capitalism and private property are detrimental to a clean earth? More importantly, do they really think that socialism will cure all our ecological ills?
Perhaps they were on Mars when the iron curtain fell and exposed the enormous environmental degradation that covers much of the habitable portions of the former Soviet Union. How about something so much easier to compare: the Berlin Wall is down and the differences between East and West Germany vis a vis pollution and ecology are appalling.
The Tragedy of the Commons
In 1990 global carbon dioxide emissions fell and are likely to continue to fall (for some time). The drop in CO2 is largely due to the collapse of the centralized ecomomies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
The conditions in Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. are indicative of socialist policies, not anomalies. Environmental degradation was the norm. The Tragedy of the Commons is a direct result of socialistic policies.
In choosing a form of government, America's Founding Fathers deliberately wanted to avoid The Tragedy of the Commons -- common property and its concomitant problems. They were too well aware of the downsides from recent history.
When the first ship of colonists came to North America to settle, the land was held in common; the settlers were to all share in the work and, thusly, in the bounty. Regretfully everyone decided to let the others do the work, as there was no bounty. There was little of anything and many of those original colonists died of starvation. After a year or two of that socialistic experiment, it was decided to give every family five acres and they were to fend for themselves. From that time forward, the colonists thrived. Economists now call this the Tragedy of the Commons.
But now the environmental socialists want to take us back to common property. Even respected environmental scholar William Ophuls has declared that "the golden age of individualism, liberty, and democracy is all but over and thus the need for a world government with enough coercive power over fractious nation states to achieve what reasonable people would regard as the planetary common interest has become overwhelming."
To goad us into accepting that socialism will solve all of our environmental problems -- and even our social problems -- environmentalists are going to stick with the tool they have used often, the best tool known -- fear. The latest, greatest fright they are hoisting on an uneducated public is, of course, global warming.
Legislating Green Morality
At the Earth Summit in 1992, most of the world's nations signed the Convention on Global Climate Change. By signing this treaty the world's governments officially endorsed the scientifically controversial notion that the earth faces the prospect of catastrophic warming.
Twenty-five years ago we were being warned of global cooling and a new Ice Age. In 1974 the U.S. National Science Board stated that "during the last 20 to 30 years, world temperature has fallen, irregularly at first but more sharply over the last decade." At NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the word was that "since 1940 there has been a distinct drop in average global temperature." And in 1976, Fred Hoyle wrote Ice: The Ultimate Human Catastrophe, warning that a new Ice Age was long overdue, and "when the ice comes, most of northern America, Britian, and northern Europe will disappear under the glaciers." To forestall this he advocated warming the oceans.
Like most other narrow special interest groups, the environmental movement is willing to do whatever it takes to advance its agenda. Where it differs is "having an especially well-honed ability to frame its agenda in emotional, seemingly altruistic terms. It masks its fundamentally statist policy prescriptions behind superficially appealing images of harmless endangered species or life-threatening pesticides; upon closer examination, however, environmentalism's 'public defender' rhetoric loses much of its luster."
"The ability of environmental activists to create and exploit popular sentiment has had far-reaching consequences; but while no one prefers dirty air to clean air, it is reasonable to assume that most people are willing to consider the trade-offs involved in achieving alternative levels of clean, especially when environmentalists are unable to provide reliable scientific evidence for their claims."
Knowing full well that they must continue to hold the high road in the eye of the public -- and that won't happen if the science behind the facts is revealed -- the environmental movement has no intention of allowing debate or discussion on the issues (note the rejection of anti-global warming ad on CNN).
Money is the lifeblood of policy advocacy, just as it is for politics. The greater the resources at its command, the more effective an advocacy group should be in presenting its case and dominating the debate.
And dominating the debate means controlling public policy through effecting and affecting laws and regulations. In the name of protecting nature -- a goal Americans embrace wholeheartedly -- over the last two decades Congress passed more than 300 major environmental laws and regulations with thousands more at the state and local levels, and we are adding more every year.
Unfortunately, those laws didn't just protect the environment. "Some laws tried to protect nature by creating harsh restrictions on business. Some infringed on private property rights with confiscatory land-use regulations. Some made it impossible to use the resource-rich federal lands that comprise one-third of our nation's area -- 700 million acres. Other laws expanded this surprisingly socialistic government-owned land-base by condemning private property to create federal nature preserves, thus removing it from the tax rolls. Every one of these laws killed jobs and trashed the economy in some specific way."
Environmentalist-produced television programs taught a whole generation to respond to every environmental problem as if it portended the end of the world -- fill a wetland, kill the earth; endanger a species, kill the earth; farm with agrochemical, kill the earth; build a single family residence, kill the earth; get out of bed in the morning, kill the earth. Environmental crisis became an everyday feeling. It gave us the present anti-business, anti-growth climate in America. The environmental movement, instead of solving the problem, in a very real way became the problem.
A World Without People
The environmentalists give us a choice -- environmentalism or humanity -- there is no other alternative offered; in their view one precludes the other. If man is allowed on earth, environmental degradation is a given, thus the only salvation of nature is the annihalation of humanity. As Ron Arnold puts it, "Environmentalism intends to transform government, economy, and society in order to liberate nature from human exploitation.
Robert Nisbet, social analyst, wrote in 1982, it is entirely possible that when the history of the twentieth century is finally written, the single most important social movement of the period will be judged to be environmentalism. Beginning early in the century as an effort by a few far-seeing individuals in America to bring about the prudent use of natural resources in the interest of extending economic growth as far into the future as possible, the environmentalist cause has become today almost a mass movement, its present objective little less than the transformation of government, economy, and society in the interest of what can only be properly called the liberation of nature from human exploitation. Environmentalism is now well on its way to becoming the third great wave of the redemptive struggle in Western history, the first being Christianity, the second modern socialism. In its way, the dream of a perfect physical environment has all the revolutionary potential that lay both in the Christian v ision of mankind redeemed by Christ and in the socialist, chiefly Marxian, prophecy of mankind free from social injustice.
To "liberate nature from human exploitation" will -- must -- eliminate humans from the earth, or at least human civilization. Your everyday garden variety environmentalist does not understand this but environmental leaders do, they say it in no uncertain terms.
National Park Service research biologist, David Graber, says: "Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn't true. Somewhere along the line -- at about a billion years ago -- we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along."
Graber has a lot of company in that sentiment. Ingrid Newkirk of People for the ethical Treatment of Animals claims that "Mankind is a cancer; we're the biggest blight on the face of the earth."
Or this, "If you haven't given voluntary human extinction much thought before, the idea of a world with no people in it may seem strange. But, if you give it a chance, I think you might agree that the extinction of Homo Sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species. . .. Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental."
From Richard Conniff writing in the Audubon magazine comes, "Among environmentalists sharing two or three beers, the notion is quite common that if only some calamity could wipe out the entire human race, other species might once again have a chance."
One problem with population control is determining a desirable population level. Christopher Manes, author of Green Rage, calls "a large percentage of humanity [an] ecological redundancy." Arne Naess says the "optimum human population of earth" is 100 million, which means that 5.3 billion (more than 98% of us) must disappear. David Foreman, former chief lobbyist for the Wilderness Society and founder of the "ecotage" group Earth First!, puts the optimum number at zero.
Ron Arnold in his book Trashing the Economy sums it up best: "It sneaks up on you. The novice environmentalist sees only the lofty and noble dream of a perfect physical environment. Then, headline after headline -- acid rain, global warming, the ozone hole, oil spills -- the environmentalist begins to harden. Negativity sets in. Perceptions change. There is a distinct shift toward seeing man as the systematic destroyer of the good, the systematic doer of evil. The image of humanity changes. A profound misanthropy develops -- and the environmentalist is unaware of it." Finally, like Mr. Graber, the radicalized environmentalist feels -- consciously or otherwise -- that in order to liberate nature from human exploitation one must eliminate all humans.
While environmentalism may sound appealing in its early purifying "let's-clean-things-up" stage, it inevitably becomes self-annihilating. We have jumped on its bandwagon with a vengeance. Nearly every American today claims to be an environmentalist. Virtually no American understands the anti-human implications of becoming an environmentalist -- of saving nature from people instead of for people -- until it's their life and livelihood on the chopping block. . . . Only now are average Americans beginning to realize that liberating nature has consequences -- the gradual elimination of jobs, economic activity, human use of the earth, and, ultimately, the disappearance of all food, clothing, shelter, and freedom. And, conceivably, the planned extinction of the last human.