Radical environmentalists are believed to be behind the recent (Aug. 2, 1998) bombing of two sour gas wells in Beaverlodge, Alberta. Luckily, nobody was hurt and only a small amount of deadly gas was released before automatic shut-off valves kicked in.

According to a Calgary Herald editorial (Aug. 5), the unknown saboteurs “should not be dignified with the label ‘environmentalist.'” Why not? Because, apparently, most environmentalists are nonviolent and would not harm the environment with sour gas.

However, these bombings and other acts of eco-terrorism (such as by the Unabomber or members of Earth First) are totally consistent with and driven by the basic philosophy underlying environmentalism.

Ironically, it was the Industrial Revolution that gave us the luxury of enjoying nature. We are no longer at its mercy, no longer living a life that is, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, nasty, brutish and short.” We can now safely enjoy nature with our wealth and hi-tech equipment.

This philosophy was revealed by Rev. Wiebo Ludwig, a farm owner near Beaverlodge, who responded to the bombings as follows: “In a sense, I’m happy about [the bombing]. I think it’s time the newspapers say who the real eco-terrorists are — industry.” (Calgary Herald — Aug. 5) [Note: After this article was written, another well was blown up on Aug. 24, 1998, and Rev. Ludwig plus two family members and a friend were arrested for the crime and then released on bail.]

While few environmentalists openly endorse terrorism, most share this anti-industry sentiment. And they have been busy zealously blocking (via “peaceful” demonstrations and political activism) industrial activities such as forestry, mining, electric power generation and petroleum production — activities beneficial to humans — in the name of “saving the environment.”

Ironically, it was the Industrial Revolution that gave us the luxury of enjoying nature. We are no longer at its mercy, no longer living a life that is, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, nasty, brutish and short.” We can now safely enjoy nature with our wealth and hi-tech equipment.

Environmentalists want us to evade the benefits of industry and all that made the Industrial Revolution possible — science, technology and political/economic freedom. They generally sneer at technology/industry, emphasize pollution, and spin out apocalyptic scenarios — global cooling, global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, population bombs, killer pesticides (alar!), etc. — in an emotionalist fashion to scare us into surrendering our individual rights, and drag us back to some kind of pre-industrial “utopia.” When experts in a specific field debunk one of their doomsday claims, they merely switch to another. (For example, see Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns, Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY, 1992. )

Environmentalists want us to evade the benefits of industry and all that made the Industrial Revolution possible — science, technology and political/economic freedom.

What explains this irrational behaviour? At root, it’s the belief that pristine nature possesses “intrinsic value.” As David Graber (a biologist with the U.S. National Park Service) stated it: “We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have intrinsic value ….”(Graber, D.M., 1989. Mother Nature as a hothouse flower: Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 22, 1989, p. 10.)

This “intrinsic value” morality means that we should preserve pristine nature “for its own sake” — regardless of any value or dis-value to humans. Cutting down trees or filling in a mosquito-infested swamp (wetland!) to erect houses and hospitals, or mining ore to build machines and medical instruments, or constructing dams to generate electricity, or drilling sour gas wells to fuel our cars and heat our homes — industrial activities that improve man’s environment — are immoral because they harm the “intrinsic value” of the non-human environment. (According to Rev. Ludwig, those engaged in industrial activities are “eco-terrorists.”)

If pristine nature possesses “intrinsic value,” then human values are inconsequential.

Worse, since man survives by conquering nature, man is an intrinsic dis-value — an inherently evil creature that warrants hatred.

Even today’s “moderate” environmentalists embrace this “intrinsic value” ethics. For example, the vague yet popular expression “sustainable development” is a gimmick to smuggle “intrinsic value” into politics whereby politicians are given the power to arbitrarily decide the extent to which humans (including their individual rights and prosperity) are to be sacrificed to nature. Companies are forced to perform confusing, time-consuming and costly “environmental impact studies” to assess the “harm done to nature itself.” Economists are badgered for not subtracting the intrinsic value of forests, rivers and ecosystems in their calculations of Gross Domestic Product.

The more “extreme” environmentalists merely embrace “intrinsic value” more consistently. Throughout the past few decades they have managed to get countless industrial projects halted — harming the lives of many people — to protect some ecosystem, old tree, or “endangered” species and its habitat. As one example, several years ago major forestry operations were virtually halted on U.S. national forest lands in the Northwest to allegedly save the spotted owl (which turned out not to be an “endangered species” after all, but that’s beside the point).

If pristine nature possesses “intrinsic value,” then human values are inconsequential.

Worse, since man survives by conquering nature, man is an intrinsic dis-value — an inherently evil creature that warrants hatred. According to anti-enlightenment philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau ( considered by historians to be the father of modern environmentalism): “God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil.” (

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Glenn Woiceshyn

Glenn Woiceshyn is a freelance writer, residing in Calgary. Visit his education resources website at Powerful Minds.

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