"The hallmark of science is a commitment to follow arguments to their logical conclusions;
the hallmark of certain kinds of religion is a slick appeal to logic followed by a hasty retreat
if it points in an unexpected direction. Environmentalists can quote reams of statistics on the
importance of trees and then jump to the conclusion that recycling paper is a good idea. But
the opposite conclusion makes equal sense. I am sure that if we found a way to recycle beef,
the population of cattle would go down, not up. If you want ranchers to keep a lot of cattle,
you should eat a lot of beef.
Recycling paper eliminates the incentive for paper companies
to plant more trees and can cause forests to shrink. If you want large forests, your best
strategy might be to use paper as wastefully as possible — or lobby for subsidies to the
logging industry. Mention this to an environmentalist. My own experience is that you will
be met with some equivalent of the beatific smile of a door-to-door evangelist stumped by
an unexpected challenge, but secure in his grasp of Divine Revelation.
This suggests that environmentalists — at least the ones I have met — have no real interest
in maintaining the tree population. If they did, they would seriously inquire into the long-term
effects of recycling. I suspect that they don't want to do that because their real concern
is with the ritual of recycling itself, not with its consequences. The underlying need to
sacrifice, and to compel others to sacrifice, is a fundamentally religious impulse."