Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Destructive Environmentalists


The so-called “green” movement is supposedly not the same as environmental extremism. People can have a legitimate and strong desire to preserve the world from environmental pollution, but it is quite easy to turn such an interest into an obsession, and to build alliances with extremist groups for the sake of advancing a supposedly less-extreme agenda. How far apart are, say, the Sierra Club and the Deep Ecology Foundation? Or Earth First!?

I would counsel environmentalists who have the best interests of human beings at heart to look with great caution upon the various participants in the environmental movement. It is the extremists who are most loudly pushing their cause, and trying to become the ones who define environmentalism. Among far-left liberals in government (and at present, there are a good many), some serious distinctions are either lost or blurred. American citizens who do not regard the eco-terrorists or enviro-fascists, etc. as serious threats, may need to look into the matter. These people are beginning to exert some actual political influence, and that is potentially very bad news.

Such groups as the Sierra Club represent the familiar left-of-center environmentalists who emphasize “green” energy, and support the Obama and leftist Democrats’ environmental and anti-oil-company positions. People in sympathy with this group’s positions, with which I disagree strongly, are something of an economic threat, since they would support cap and trade and the EPA anti-CO-2 finding, etc. But they are not overtly anti-human or anti-prosperity as several other groups are.

Mainstreaming of Radical Beliefs
Views that should be regarded as extreme are becoming more common these days. For example, in the United Kingdom:
“Couples who have more than two children are being ‘irresponsible’ by creating an unbearable burden on the environment, the government’s green adviser has warned.
Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming. He says political leaders and green campaigners should stop dodging the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population.

“‘I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate,’ Porritt said.” [1]

Wesley J. Smith at First Things, posted the video below, explaining,
“…I think the video is worth the ten minutes it takes to view because the facts against the global warming [are] presented powerfully by Lord Monkton – one of the world’s most notable skeptics–demonstrate vividly that there are many good reasons for real doubt about the need for hysteria. Indeed, this is why – no matter how vociferously people like Al Gore and President Obama insist that it is – the debate is far from over. Indeed, the burden of proof remains with the hysterics to demonstrate that they are not, in fact, being hysterical. Enjoy.” [2]



What Is Deep Ecology?
Deep Ecology is the radical idea that all life has the right to exist, that no one species is more important than another.

According to Judi Bari, "Nature does not exist to serve humans. Rather, humans are a part of nature, one species among many. All species have the right to exist for their own sake, regardless of their usefulness to humans". [3]

The “mainstream” environmentalists’ further left counterparts represent views which are truly alarming. To the extent that they gain any influence, they are frightening.

Environmental extremists accept as virtual articles of faith that (1) there are too many humans in the world, (2) prosperity is not sustainable, (3) people need to return to a primitive way of life and eschew consumerism, (4) people are simply animals, with the same rights as other animals, and (5) no living things are to be destroyed except for sustenance and defense, (6) death should take place in a manner that is earth-friendly, and people should be encouraged to die young for the sake of the environment, and (7) these beliefs represent a spiritual religion and actions to support these beliefs constitute worship. People should live more to themselves and minimize travel and social interaction, except to teach others the environmentalist philosophy. [4]

The Sierra Club and similar organizations have been regarded as extremist by various conservatives. According to David Foreman, founder of the undoubtedly extremist group Earth First!, there is a connection between the various groups.

“[C]omments from Foreman himself are revealing. Smithsonian magazine writes:
‘We thought it would have been useful to have a group to take a tougher position than the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society,’ Foreman remembers. ‘It could be
sort of secretly controlled by the mainstream and trotted out at hearings to make the Sierra Club or Wilderness Society look moderate.’

“In his own book, Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, Foreman brags: ‘A major accomplishment of Earth First! … has been to expand the environmental spectrum to where the Sierra Club and other groups are perceived as moderates.’ Foreman made the same point to Audubon magazine in 1982: ‘When I call the Sierra Club 'namby pamby,' that is done consciously to negate what [Secretary of the Interior James] Watt says when he calls them extremists.’” [5]


Putting Extremism into Action
Earth First! Is regarded by the FBI as one of the most dangerous eco-terrorist organizations. [6]

Eco-terrorists believe that destruction of property, and perhaps people, that are not earth-friendly is justified. Such groups as The Church of Deep Ecology consider “destruction of the critical infrastructure of civilization,” an acceptable environmental action. As for mankind, they envision making humanity a feral species. “Re-wilding,” they call it. [7]

The recent U.N. climate conference at Copenhagen seems to point out the possible use of “climate change” as an issue justifying progress toward a one-world government.

Eco-extremists The Church of Deep Ecology claims to recognize “no authority except Nature,” [8] but the various factions of the “green” movement will work together when they can see enough advantage, despite supposedly conflicting beliefs. Politically, the “mainstream” environmentalists tend toward socialism and strong government control.

Often, environmentalist groups regard their brand of environmentalism as the most important issue of all, to which other considerations (such as individual liberty, private property, the economy, and, especially, consumerism and prosperity) can be sacrificed if need be.

I don’t know what connection there really is, if any, between, for example, the Sierra Club and Earth First!-type organizations. But it is plain that environmentalism, strongly enforced by government, goes against normal American beliefs and traditions about individual liberty, having as many children as a couple would like, striving to give our children a better life than we enjoyed, and putting people first. Environmental extremism is the antithesis of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Its worst expressions, and the tendency is toward that, devalue human life and would greatly reduce human population, and lower our standard of living to a third world or possibly Stone Age existence.

Christopher D. Stone's 1972 essay, "Should trees have standing?" addressed the question of whether natural objects themselves should have legal rights. In the essay, Stone suggests that his argument is valid because many current rights-holders (women, children) were once seen as objects. [9]

Environmental extremists often claim that their beliefs justify illegal activities. Members of ELF, for example have been accused of arson. Members of eco-terrorist groups have been convicted, as for example,
“Chelsea Gerlach, who joined the radical-environmental movement as a teenager, was sentenced today in Oregon to nine years in prison for her prominent role in torching a Vail ski lodge in 1998 and five other so-called ‘eco-terror’ attacks.

“Gerlach, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, destruction of an energy facility and 23 counts of arson after being identified by an informant as a major player in a six-year reign of attacks on government, business and research facilities….

“As a member of a small clandestine group that called itself "The Family," Gerlach and others helped cell leader Bill Rodgers in October 1998 haul fuel up Vail ski area. There, under the cloak of darkness, he torched the stately Two Elk Lodge and several other buildings and lifts, causing an estimated $24 million in damage.” [10]

“The eco-terrorists believed that vision could and should be brought to reality by violently attacking the properties of those they saw as enemies. One of the ringleaders of the attacks was Bill Rodgers, who committed suicide after being arrested for his role in the crimes. ‘Certain human cultures have been waging war against the Earth for millennia,’ Rodgers said in a letter he wrote before suffocating himself with a plastic bag. ‘I chose to fight on the side of bears, mountain lions, skunks, bats, saguaros, cliff rose and all things wild. I am just the most recent casualty in that war. But tonight I have made a jail break--I am returning home, to the Earth, to the place of my origins.’” [11]

Other eco-extremists have also been willing to put their beliefs into action. They have destroyed private and public property and made destructive and otherwise serious decisions affecting themselves:
“And see the lengths to which some true believers now go. There’s Toni Vernelli, from animal liberation group PETA, who aborted her baby because ‘it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world.’ There’s Sarah Irving, from Ethical Consumer magazine, who sterilised herself because it ‘was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do’ in a warming world.” [12]

Conclusion
The environmental extremists’ philosophy calls for the destruction of civilization.
“[Journalist Matt] Rasmussen concludes [an article on the motivations of extremist environmentalists] by wondering if the ELF radicals will someday be remembered as symbols of ‘courage and righteousness.’ But that is incomprehensible since they seek nothing less than the destruction of civilization, a la [Professor John] Zerzan. To some that may sound like a lofty ideal, but it means nothing less than the end of modern farming, the end of modern sanitation, the end of modern power generation, the end of modern transport--and the deaths of billions of people.” [13]

The realm of environmental extremism and eco-terrorism is a murky and, to many Americans, little-known fact of our society. The items I have mentioned above are no doubt old news to followers of the environmental movement. But most Americans aren’t aware of this situation. Since we’re seeing our government getting so involved these days in climate change and “green” everything, this is an aspect of the “green” movement that needs to be better known. I suspect that there may be less of a disconnect between “mainstream” environmentalists and extremists than one might think, at least judging by the words of some of the radicals.

The philosophy they espouse is so strange that it’s hard to believe that people actually believe such things. Yet, to the extent that they do, and are willing to act to try to implement these beliefs in our world, it is a very dangerous and disturbing situation. Along with the Climategate revelations and the potential negative impact of government “carbon” programs, these radicals represent another big reason to view “environmental activism” with suspicion.

[1] Sarah-Kate Templeton, “Two children should be limit, says green guru,” 02/01/2009, Times Online, at http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article5627634.ece

[2] Wesley J. Smith, “Global Warming Hysteria: For Some, It’s a Matter of Faith,” 12/28/2009, First Things at
http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2009/12/28/global-warming-hysteria-for-some-its-a-matter-of-faith/

[3] Church of Deep Ecology, at http://www.churchofdeepecology.org/

[4] Ibid.

[5]“Earth First,!”Activistcash.com, at http://activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/o/271-earth-first

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Church of Deep Ecology Primer,” pdf available at http://www.churchofdeepecology.org/

[8] Church of Deep Ecology, see [3]

[9] “Environmental Movement,” Wikipedia.org
at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_movement

[10] Steve Lipsher, “Nine years for Vail eco-terrorist,” Denver Post, 05/25/2007, at http://www.denverpost.com/ci_5988241

[11] “The philosophy of eco-terrorism,” The New American, 02/05/2007, FindArticles.com at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JZS/is_3_23/ai_n25000557/

[12] Andrew Bolt, “Green slayer is after your children,” 06/13/2008, HeraldSun.com.au, at
http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_green_slayer_is_after_your_children/

[13] “The philosophy of eco-terrorism,” see [11]

Further reading:
Paul Taylor, “Ecoterrorism: An overlooked threat to the United States,” Insight on the News, 12/10/2001, FindArticles.com at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_46_17/ai_80774576/

John Berlau, “Eco-Terrorism: When Violence Becomes an Environmentalist Tactic,” Human Events, 04/02/2007, FindArticles.com at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3827/is_20070402/ai_n19012231/

Photo: Dreamstime.com

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