Earth

From the HuffingtonPost.com 4/6/15:

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Monday blamed environmentalists for what she called a “man-made” drought in California, which has led to the state’s first water restrictions.

“With different policies over the last 20 years, all of this could be avoided,” Fiorina, a likely 2016 Republican presidential contender, said in an interview with radio host Glenn Beck. “Despite the fact that California has suffered from droughts for millennia, liberal environmentalists have prevented the building of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades during a period in which California’s population has doubled.”

Fiorina, California’s 2010 GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, said it was a “classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology. It is a tragedy.”

Environmentalists are making fun of Fiorina’s comments. But she raises some compelling points that hard-core environmentalists would probably prefer the rest of us never consider.

There are basically two ways to approach life on earth, whether from an individual or broader (social) point-of-view. One approach is for human beings to master the environment, and suit it to their purposes. The other approach is to leave the environment alone — completely alone being the ideal — and do as little as possible to tarnish or “despoil” it.

The hard fact in play is that billions of people cannot continue to survive on planet earth unless engineers, entrepreneurs, profit-makers, producers and others make life as habitable and as comfortable for human beings as possible.

A case in point has to do with things like reservoirs. Environmentalists always say “no” when it comes time to build a bridge, a reservoir, an oil refinery, or anything else that makes humankind more capable of surviving and mastering life on earth. Their unstated or stated premise is, “Man has already done enough to despoil the planet. No more!”

If human beings had possessed this attitude back in the 1800s or the first half of the twentieth century, before environmentalism came on the scene, there would be little to fight about now. Most of us presently alive would be dead, or perhaps never have been born. Life as we know it would never had advanced to the stage it now has, with so many treatments and cures for illness, the ability to rapidly and efficiently transmit both knowledge and goods/services around the globe, and all the countless variables that make life so different on planet earth in 2015 when compared to, say, 1910 or 1840. Even the ability to enjoy and appreciate wildlife and nature, if that’s your thing, is significantly advanced by the ability to travel long distances, utilize electricity, expend energy in the pursuit of these goals, and so forth.

Does the immense, awe-inspiring improvement in human life brought about by what environmentalists call “despoiling” the planet not count for anything?

Most of us seem content to conclude that, “the industrial, pro-development attitude was fine in its time; but now it’s time for a change.” That’s easy to say if you’ve grown up in and around a setting where human development, industry and technology are the norm, as all of us in the civilized world (particularly America) have.

Yet how are we to sustain all that we have, much less continue to grow, survive and flourish in the present and into the future, if we reject an attitude of mastery over the earth and replace it with a religious-like belief that nature is pure and pristine, and must be left untarnished at all costs?

I don’t know of any environmentalists who favor capitalism, or private property, beyond the minimal amount. In their view, private ownership means reckless and mindless exploitation of the environment. This prejudice against capitalism overlooks two things.

One, under capitalism, businesses and private owners are legally responsible for any damage they do to the property, lives or health of others. (This excludes the form of pseudo-capitalism we know today, where politically connected business owners can bribe or otherwise manipulate politicians to make exceptions for them.)

Two, under capitalism, there’s nothing to prevent the Sierra Club, or any other environmentally concerned organization, from buying up land, paying to maintain it, and expect the government to protect their property rights every bit as much as the property rights of an oil company or a factory.

Today’s environmentalist movement is not a conservation movement. Conservationists preserve land in its natural state for their own enjoyment, as well as for the enjoyment of people who willingly patronize or donate to them. Today’s environmentalists are all about control. They seek to dominate all of government and the private sector, doing all that they can to reverse course on capitalism and industrialization, in defense of Mother Nature. It’s nothing more than power politics. If it weren’t, they would not be involved in politics in the first place, other than to insist that government protect their own private property rights.

One can debate whether Fiorina is right about the role of reservoirs in preventing problems with drought. But so long as we give government effective control over the free market, and so long as government (particularly in California) is opposed, almost without exception, to any large-scale development whatsoever, then you’re going to find it harder and harder for human beings to cope with natural disasters or shifting trends in rain and temperature, trends which science also tells us are as old as the earth itself.

Fiorina is absolutely right to imply that ideas have consequences. Environmentalism is, at its core, a religious fanaticism that fails to back up all its claims, particularly since there is far more we do not yet know about the science of climate than what we know. More than that, the benefits of technology and energy development for human life have been so spectacular that most of us living today can hardly appreciate the depth of this achievement in two short centuries of human life on earth. We should be celebrating these accomplishments, not condemning them in a hand wringing, moralistic tone premised on unearned guilt over mastering natural resources and improving life for human beings.

Ideas matter. If we keep accepting the idea that human beings have no moral or legal right to develop energy on earth, then natural events like drought, hurricanes and earthquakes will start to matter more and more. We’ll return to our primitive past, when man had less power and Nature had more. It’s undoubtedly what the hardest core — and I would say the sickest — of the environmentalist ideologues would like to see happen.

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Dr Michael Hurd

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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