Saturday, September 08, 2007

Naive Enviornmentalism=Religous Fundamentalism

Excerpts below from a classic statement about why naive environmentalism is like religious fundamentalism, from economist Steven Landsburg in his book "Armchair Economics: Economics and Everyday Life:"

Like other coercive ideologies, environmentalism targets children specifically. The naive environmentalism of my daughter's preschool is a force-fed potpourri of myth, superstition, and ritual that has much in common with the least reputable varieties of religious Fundamentalism.

In a letter to his daughter Cayley's teacher, Landsburg writes:

Just as Cayley's teachers in Colorado were honestly oblivious to the fact that there is diversity in religion, it may be that her teachers here have been honestly oblivious that there is diversity in politics.

Let me then make that diversity clear. We are not environmentalists. We ardently oppose environmentalists. We consider environmentalism a form of mass hysteria akin to Islamic fundamentalism or the War on Drugs. We do not recycle. We teach our daughter not to recycle. We teach her that people who try to convince her to recycle, or who try to force her to recycle, are intruding on her rights.

The entire program of environmentalism is as foreign to us as the doctrine of Christianity (Note: Landsburg is Jewish). We face no current threat of having Christianity imposed on us by petty tyrants; the same can not be said of environmentalism. My county government never tried to send me a New Testament, but it did send me a recycling bin.

MP: I'm not sure, but I don't think Landsburg is an environmentalist.


At 9/08/2007 5:55 PM, Blogger holeydonut said...

I can see him disliking the blind fanaticism he sees in certain environmentalists, but I'm quite puzzled at his fervent argument against simple notions such as conservation of resources and simply recycling.

One thing about economists that I've always found puzzling is how the notion of a free market is used to rationalize all decisions. Because the free market has determined that 1 BTU is worth six dollars, then it is perfectly logical if a very wealthy man to leave his attic window open in freezing temperatures because it is not worth six dollars for him to shut the window.

Similarly recycling aluminum, conserving petroleum, saving endangered penguins, and composting are not worth the effort now because the alternative of being wasteful is rationalized due to the individual placing very little value on those efforts.

But then, in a free market, some very convincing people have spent decades pushing for "teaching" (or brainwashing) little kids because those environmentalists place great value on saving trees. And he rationalizes that those people are stupid and irrational, and uses the axiom of a free market to defend his position.

At 9/09/2007 1:16 AM, Blogger thomasblair said...

If we were living in a world where 1 BTU cost 6 USD, things would be very different.

Currently, you can get one million BTU as natural gas for about $6 or as crude oil for about $13.

At 9/09/2007 4:01 AM, Blogger Steve_Roberts said...

Maybe what's wrong with recycling is that we all know subconsciously that if it were economic to recycle domestic refuse than people would come round to buy it from you. Since it's not actually economic, the time you spend sorting waste is a kind of serfdom.


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