Modern environmentalism is not some harmless desire for clean water and clean air. It is the implacable enemy of liberty and everything that has made American the greatest, most prosperous engine of freedom in the history of the world. Some might think I overstate the case. They would be wrong. I’ve read, as difficult as it is, much environmentalist claptrap, but I’ve found a wonderfully focused piece by a Brit name George Monbiot titled “This is bigger than climate change. It is a battle to redefine humanity.” Kind of says it all.
This is correctly looked at as a battle of worldviews. One of autonomous man, defined by evolution as a product of time, matter and chance, and the other of man as the product of an omnipotent creator who lives in a world designed for him. These are mutually incompatible.
The foundation of American exceptionalism is established in our Declaration of Independence in which it is proclaimed, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Without a Creator, specifically of the Judeo-Christian tradition, America has nothing upon which it can claim unique status, and it is a worldview informed by its biblical precedence that informed this distinctive American character. Environmentalism is an attack on the very foundations of the moral fiber of American independence.
Let us take a look at a few paragraphs in Mr. Monbiot’s piece to establish the case:
This is the moment at which we turn and face ourselves. Here, in the plastic corridors and crowded stalls, among impenetrable texts and withering procedures, humankind decides what it is and what it will become. It chooses whether to continue living as it has done, until it must make a wasteland of its home, or to stop and redefine itself. This is about much more than climate change. This is about us.
The meeting at Copenhagen confronts us with our primal tragedy. We are the universal ape, equipped with the ingenuity and aggression to bring down prey much larger than itself, break into new lands, roar its defiance of natural constraints. Now we find ourselves hedged in by the consequences of our nature, living meekly on this crowded planet for fear of provoking or damaging others. We have the hearts of lions and live the lives of clerks.
The summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accommodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow.
This is a meeting about chemicals: the greenhouse gases insulating the atmosphere. But it is also a battle between two world views. The angry men who seek to derail this agreement, and all such limits on their self-fulfillment, have understood this better than we have. A new movement, most visible in North America and Australia, but now apparent everywhere, demands to trample on the lives of others as if this were a human right. It will not be constrained by taxes, gun laws, regulations, health and safety, especially by environmental restraints. It knows that fossil fuels have granted the universal ape amplification beyond its Palaeolithic dreams. For a moment, a marvelous, frontier moment, they allowed us to live in blissful mindlessness.
Breathtaking. At least give Mr. Monbiot two cheers for honesty. Of course this “ape” has to demonize anyone who disagrees with him as “angry” and demanding to “trample on the lives of others.” But notice something that is fundamental to this worldview. “Restraint” is wholly external. Morality is defined by what one does with the environment, rather than what one does with ones body or thoughts or interpersonal actions. This is morality turned upside down and inside out, but endemic to the elitist, leftist mindset for hundreds of years.
He speaks of “natural restraints” as if our environment determined the limits of our actions. If that were the case the human race would still live in caves. In fact all human progress begins with the innate desire in the breast of every human being to break through the restraints that so easily stop the timid and weak among us.
The Pilgrims broke through the restraints of religious persecution and thousands of miles of ocean to come to the new world. They and their progeny overcame the restraints of a hostile wilderness and climate to create the preconditions of the American experiment. Edison broke through the constraints of darkness, Alexander Graham Bell sound, the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford distance, and need I go on.
It is human ingenuity, faith and hope that are the fertile soil of progress (see George Gilder’s seminal Wealth and Poverty), not the declaration of limits and catastrophe. A great example of how these two incompatible worldviews played out in American politics is the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Carter was the quintessential modern liberal of limits, one who believes that turning down our thermostats, wearing sweaters and driving less were the key to an American renewal of faith (see the pathetically hilarious “malaise” speech). This is like declaring defeat even before you go into battle. Reagan would have nothing to do with this. He knew that limits are only in the mind, and that the human spirit, our God given will and imagination, do not lead inexorably to disaster.
This pernicious environmentalist mentality is a war for the soul of man. It is not fundamentally about economics or even the environment. Rather it is, as Mr. Manbiot so helpfully points out, about the very nature of humanity and who will define it. Are we intelligent apes or are we made in the image of God? The answer to that question will determine if we are defined by limits and thus the state, or free creatures that determine our own destiny in spite of limits.