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Criticism of Environmentalism

Page history last edited by Don Pogreba 10 years, 9 months ago
  • Nature should be seen primarily for its utility, its usefulness for the majority of humans. Failure to do so will harm human interests.
  • Assumption that humans are distinct from nature drives much anti-environmental thinking:
    • Superiority of humans
    • Existence of a soul
    • Rationality
    • Purpose
  • Human Resourcefulness. Given the time and technological development, human will have the capacity to develop out of environmental problems.
  • Humans do not have the ability to truly destroy nature. Nature is incredibly resilient; human activity over hundreds of years has not destroyed it. There is no reason to believe that it will now.
  • Economic growth and development can solve most environmental problems. The countries that are the most developed are the ones who tend to protect the environment. Hurting the economy by forcing economic regulations will have the result of hurting the environment in the end.
  • We must avoid misanthropy. The environmentalist movement often equates human experience with the experience of animals or even elevates animal interests over those of humans.
    • Spotted owls
    • Fish habitat versus farmers’ canals
  • Religious justifications argue that we need not focus so heavily on the environment. Some argue that God created the world for human interests or that God will not allow humans to destroy the environment.
  • The natural world is too resilient, too large for humans to ever destroy it. It’s simply arrogant to believe we have that power.
  • Environmentalism undermines capitalism, which offers the best way to protect the environment. Limiting our economic growth and constraining development will do more damage to the environment. Ayn Rand wrote, “city smog and filthy rivers are not good for men (though they are not the kind of danger that the ecological panic-mongers proclaim them to be). This is a scientific, technological problem—not a political one—and it can be solved only by technology. Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is whole-sale death.”
  • Individualism offers the best answer for society and the environment. Rational self-interest will drive humans to both protect their environment and their interests. The government often acts in ways that are antithetical to the interests of individuals--and should not be trusted. Roy Cordato argues that “in a free society, environmental problems should be viewed in terms of how they impinge on human liberty. Questions should focus on how and why one person’s use of resources might interfere with the planning and the decision making abilities of others. Since, legitimately, people can only make plans and decisions with respect to resources that they have “rights” to, environmentalism that has human wellbeing as the focus of its analysis, must center on property rights.”
  • Private property rights give humans the right to treat their land and its resources as they see fit. Mr. Cordato argues that private property rights will better protect the environment: “environmental problems occur because property rights, a requirement of free markets, are not being identified or enforced. Problems of air, river, and ocean pollution are all due to a lack of private property rights and/or protection.”
  • Environmentalists are often wrong and scare the public with horror stories about the environment. This doomsaying prevents real discussion about the environment. One of the best examples were fears of an Ice Age in the 1970s.


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