Icehawk and DenMT objected to me "green-bashing" when, in my blog on Techno-Environmentalism, I linked mainstream environmentalism with the anti-human views of deep ecologists. This is my reply.
I'm very pleased that you're repudiating the deep ecology insanity, guys, and presumably also the idea that nature possesses intrinsic value
in and of itself. But let me ask you if you both agree with an environmentalism that accepts humans as first in the hierarchy of nature; if so then we are in agreement. But I would challenge you both to point me to more than a few mainstream environmental organisations that do so.
To be fair, I believe the number of deep ecologists is decreasing from where it was when Bidinotto wrote 'The Green Machine
,' from which came the quote to which you objected, but a 1997 survey published in American Demographics
found that fully a fourth of all Americans "see nature as sacred, want to stop corporate polluters, are suspicious of big business, are interested in voluntary simplicity, and are willing to pay to clean up the environment and stop global warming." That's one quarter
of Americans who see nature as sacred, just as the deep ecologists do.
It's true that there is now a growing tension between those who sympathise with the view of the deep ecologists--what you might call the 'romantic' or 'religionist' environmentalists-- and a growing minority who have reversed their views on issues of population growth, urbanization, genetically engineered organisms, and nuclear power (as I discuss
in a previous blog called 'Religionists for Nuclear
.'), but this latter group is not yet in the environmental mainstream, although they do deserve to be.
On this question of who comes first, consider the case of Florida boy Jessie Arbogast
, whose arm was bitten off by a shark. It's easy to agree (or to maintain a discreet silence as animal rights activists did) with the shark being shot so the arm could be retrieved and successfully reattached (but do note that such an action might now be illegal if the shark was one of Chris Carter's protected Great Whites
) . That's an easy case with which to agree, and the justice of shooting the shark and retrieving the boy's arm should be obvious, as Tibor Machan
quite properly points out:
Few among us would have hesitated at this choice: boy's arm versus life of shark. Of course the boy's arm is more important, and so the shark had to go. Yet, there are millions of animal-rights advocates around the world, many of them Hollywood celebrities with easy access to talk shows and news reporters, who have remained completely silent about their professed view—namely, that human beings are not more important than non-human animals.
But consider Tibor's further point. An environmentalism that honestly puts humans first would go further and apply the same principle applied correctly to secure the boy's survival and well-being to all the day-to-day activities human must undertake to secure their livelihood: Rather than seek to shackle human production and fecundity, they must recognise that the unique nature of human beings requires that they use, alter and sometimes despoil nature in order to maintain their lives and to produce wealth: no other means of livelihood is possible to the human animal.
Supporting human life means opposing the 'religious' environmentalism that is often economically devastating to farmers, fishers, miners, loggers, and others who necessarily 'despoil' untrammeled nature in the necessary pursuit of their, and our, livelihood.
So that's the challenge I put to you: do you agree that humans should be put first in the hierarchy of nature? And if so, do you agree with my conclusion from the article to which you objected; that is, in an "environmentalism ... that...eschews any idea of 'intrinsic values' or deep ecology, and embraces instead the idea of seeking and advancing those environmental values that support and enhance human life."
Labels: Environment, Ethics