Monday, April 20, 2009

On April 22, Celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day

This week as much as Wednesday, we will be inundated with reminders of how horrible and destructive the human race is. (How we've survived this long is beyond me.) We will be talked to about recycling, solar power, canvas totes instead of paper or plastic, CFL bulbs and a slew of other "green" ideas. Now don't get me wrong, conservation has it's place. Conservation is my mind is equal to common sense and balance.

A few years back we were faced with a poor winter and subsequent drought. As a result our city water company put restrictions on the day of the week, time of day and minutes per zone for watering our lawns. This made sense because there was an immediate limit to the water supply. Most everyone complied and got by with using less water. We were told this was not only necessary but that it would save us all money. Makes sense right? In the short term it did. But then cities started raising their rates to compensate for the reduction in use. So in the end, people use less and still pay the same. (Way to go, Guys!)

Now, about natural resources. (Cue the sky-is-falling people) Oil, Coal, Natural Gas, Trees, etc... We already use everyone of these resources more efficiently than we did 10 years ago or 50 years ago or 100 years ago. Now I'll admit that we consume more, but that's more in part to population than it is wasteful use. And I'm willing to bet all that I have or will ever have on the fact that we will continue to become more efficient with our use of these resources. But not because we are going to run out tomorrow, but because that's what we do. We find a way to do something better, we always have and always will. So in the short-term I think it's ludicrous to place outrageous restrictions on the collection and use of these resources. Again, common sense and balance.

Anyway, I started writing this post after reading an Op-ed from The Objective Standard by Craig Biddle. I thought Mr. Biddle was spot-on. Here is the Op-ed.

On April 22, Celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day
by Craig Biddle

Because Earth Day is intended to further the cause of environmentalism—and because environmentalism is an anti-human ideology—on April 22, those who care about human life should not celebrate Earth Day; they should celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day.

Exploiting the Earth—using the raw materials of nature for one’s life-serving purposes—is a basic requirement of human life. Either man takes the Earth’s raw materials—such as trees, petroleum, aluminum, and atoms—and transforms them into the requirements of his life, or he dies. To live, man must produce the goods on which his life depends; he must produce homes, automobiles, computers, electricity, and the like; he must seize nature and use it to his advantage. There is no escaping this fact. Even the allegedly “noble” savage must pick or perish. Indeed, even if a person produces nothing, insofar as he remains alive he indirectly exploits the Earth by parasitically surviving off the exploitative efforts of others.

According to environmentalism, however, man should not use nature for his needs; he should keep his hands off “the goods”; he should leave nature alone, come what may. Environmentalism is not concerned with human health and well being—neither ours nor that of generations to come. If it were, it would advocate the one social system that ensures that the Earth and its elements are used in the most productive, life-serving manner possible: capitalism.

Capitalism is the only social system that recognizes and protects each individual’s right to act in accordance with his basic means of living: the judgment of his mind. Environmentalism, of course, does not and cannot advocate capitalism, because if people are free to act on their judgment, they will strive to produce and prosper; they will transform the raw materials of nature into the requirements of human life; they will exploit the Earth and live.

Environmentalism rejects the basic moral premise of capitalism—the idea that people should be free to act on their judgment—because it rejects a more fundamental idea on which capitalism rests: the idea that the requirements of human life constitute the standard of moral value. While the standard of value underlying capitalism is human life (meaning, that which is necessary for human beings to live and prosper), the standard of value underlying environmentalism is nature untouched by man.

The basic principle of environmentalism is that nature (i.e., “the environment”) has
intrinsic value—value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of the requirements of human life—and that this value must be protected from its only adversary: man. Rivers must be left free to flow unimpeded by human dams, which
divert natural flows, alter natural landscapes, and disrupt wildlife habitats. Glaciers must be left free to grow or shrink according to natural causes, but any human activity that might affect their size must be prohibited. Naturally generated carbon dioxide (such as that emitted by oceans and volcanoes) and naturally generated methane (such as that emitted by swamps and termites) may contribute to the greenhouse effect, but such gasses must not be produced by man. The globe may warm or cool naturally (e.g., via increases or decreases in sunspot activity), but man must not do anything to affect its temperature. And so on.

In short, according to environmentalism, if nature affects nature, the effect is good; if man affects nature, the effect is evil.

Stating the essence of environmentalism in such stark terms raises some illuminating questions: If the good is nature untouched by man, how is man to live? What is he to eat? What is he to wear? Where is he to reside? How can man do anything his life requires without altering, harming, or destroying some aspect of nature? In order to nourish himself, man must consume meats, fruits, and vegetables. In order to make clothing, he must skin animals, pick cotton, manufacture polyester, and the like. In order to build a house—or even a hut—he must cut down trees, dig up clay, make fires, bake bricks, and so forth. Each and every action man takes to support or sustain his life entails the exploitation of nature. Thus, on the premise of environmentalism, man has no right to exist.

It comes down to this: Each of us has a choice to make. Will I recognize that man’s life is the standard of moral value—that the good is that which sustains and furthers human life—and thus that people have a moral right to use the Earth and its elements for their life-serving needs? Or will I accept that nature has “intrinsic” value—value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of human needs—and thus that people have no right to exist?

There is no middle ground here. Either human life is the standard of moral value, or it is not. Either nature has intrinsic value, or it does not.

On April 22, make clear where you stand. Don’t celebrate Earth Day; celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day—and let your friends, family, and associates know why.

So please join with me as I celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day. We're overdue for some common sense and balance.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Biddle's dichotomy of Capitalism vs. Environmentalism is fundamentally unsound, as Capitalism and Environmentalism are not mutually exclusive.

    Does he have an axe to grind? Perhaps an unsavory encounter(s) has left him with a distaste for environmentalism?

    I'd like to highlight a few of the flaws in the premise of his argument:

    1. Capitalism is NOT a social system; it is an economic system. Democracy is a social system.

    2. IN NO WAY does Capitalism ensure "that the Earth and its elements are used in the most productive, life-serving manner possible." In its purest form, Capitalism is laissez faire - French for, "let do," i.e. "hands off." It likelier ensures that the Earth and its elements are used in the most profitable manner possible.

    3. IN NO WAY does environmentalism reject "the idea that people should be free to act on their judgment." Neither does it purport that Nature "has intrinsic value — value in and of itself." In its most base form, environmentalism is the movement towards a sustainable future. Nothing more, and nothing less.

    4. His assertion, "on the premise of environmentalism, man has no right to exist," reveals a gross misunderstanding of environmentalism's aims, and a venomous, reactionary viewpoint.

    Which better serves the people: living without regard for the environment in which we, and our future generations, live? Or taking (at minimum) one day per year to remind ourselves that Earth's resources are not unlimited?

    More reading: