Indifference to Facts Is Good Policy?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

In a recent column, Walter Williams catalogs part of the long history -- pushing a century now -- of failed predictions and mendacity on the part of environmentalists, including the following:

Hoodwinking Americans is part of the environmentalist agenda. Environmental activist Stephen Schneider told Discover magazine in 1989: "We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. ... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest." In 1988, then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., said: "We've got to ... try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong ... we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy." [bold added]
Really? It is worth considering for a moment how someone can feel so confident of doing the right thing regardless of their factual basis for their actions. If burning fossil fuels is, in fact, not about to destroy the planet we live on, what difference does continuing to use fossil fuels make, and what about curtailing it is "right?" More important, how do people continually get away with spewing such nonsense?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that practical considerations are not the only thing at play, at which point, many people might chime in that, yes, moral factors are also important. This strikes me as very odd, but that is because I reject the very commonly-held ideas that (1) the moral and the practical are opposites, and (2) there is no factual basis for morality. Williams closes his column by noting that, "Americans have paid a steep price for buying into environmental deception and lies." Those ideas about morality aren't just a source of drawing-room fun: They have consequences.

This is a warning shot across the bow. Our economy, on which our prosperity and our lives depend, is being damaged by the idea that the good has nothing to do with this earth, and that doing good has nothing to do with living or prospering.

It is high time to question the idea that morality is an enemy of a prosperous life, and, as Ayn Rand did, ask why we need morality at all. (Her answer: We do, desperately. Our lives depend on it.) Regarding the moral-practical dichotomy, Rand wrote, "The sole result of that murderous doctrine [is] to remove morality from life." I leave it as an exercise for the reader to consider what attempting to live without morality might mean for a species that needs morality to live.

-- CAV


Dinwar said...

There's a dirty secret that Environmentalists don't want people to know: The whole thing is based on a flawed premise.

Environmentalism holds that the pre-human is the standard for "good". This is codified in NEPA and other environmental regulations: Any ecological conditions are fine, as long as humanity isn't involved. The assumption is that ecosystems that have not been influenced by humans are stable.

However, this simply isn't true. There are multiple lines of evidence demonstrating this. To list a few:

Predator dental wear, which indicates the ratio of predators to prey, demonstrate conclusively that every ecosystem we have ever studied--ALL of them, bar none--is lacking in predators compared to stable ecosystems (meaning ecosystems that have underwent minimal change over a few million years). We have never, since biology became a science, seen, much less studied, a stable ecosystem.

The megafauna are essentially gone. There are a few stragglers, and more in Africa/southern Asia, but by and large giant mammals are a thing of the past. This has real ecological consequences. You can't remove a huge portion of the ecosystem and not have it respond! Yet because the megafuana died out about 11,700 years before biology became a science, Environmentalist calculations ignore this fact.

On a related note: A lot of plants still exist that had powerful defensive mechanisms against megafauna herbivores (such as yuccas), or which relied upon such herbivores for their life cycle (avocados, among others). The fact that these plants exist indicates that the ecosystem isn't stable. Without a powerful forcing mechanism evolution will almost inevitably eliminate such metabolically and reproductively risky traits.

None of this is controversial; this is all standard stuff in biology. It's not in the Biology 101 textbooks, but it's certainly openly discussed among scientists. Yet Environmentalists ignore all of this, and insist on returning the Earth back to a stage that is necessarily and inherently unstable. The whole thing is insane and ignores copious amounts of evidence.

Gus Van Horn said...


You remind me further of a couple of interesting links I encountered this morning at Voices for Reason.

I think that all the errors Williams and you indicate are both motivated by a desire to clothe altruism in scientific garb and are aided by poor philosophical fundamentals on the part of the environmentalists.