Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Why Should We Protect The Environment?

We are told to protect the environment, but first we need to ask why

I did say after a discussion on the science that I would discuss the politics of climate change. However first I want to take issue with the rational basis of environmentalism, which strengthens the case that the whole idea is political.

The Earth is one planet in a universe probably populated with many millions of billions, roughly 4.65 billion years old. There is evidence of life in rocks older than 3.8 billion years. During that time there has been one dominant form of life, prokaryotes, basically bacteria. They make up most of the Earth’s biodiversity and even biomass. Eukaryotes evolved much later, and form everything else, including some single-cell organisms more complicated than bacteria.

Macro-organisms, larger creatures, evolved much later still, perhaps about 650 million years ago. Since then different forms appear and disappear in the fossil record. The greatest mass extinction known (the end Permian, since you ask) seems to have wiped out perhaps 95% of all species identified by fossils. Other times creatures just evolve to be something distinct, or die out.

The point I am trying to make is that we can split life into small, simple but vastly abundant things that we could not wipe out if we tried (with the exception of those that are dependent upon us, like smallpox, or on another organism that we wiped out) and large organisms that go extinct as a normal part of the changes in the world. More importantly new creatures evolve, and biodiversity is always different but it is always there.

So what is the point of environmentalism? To ‘save the Earth’ many would say, but the Earth is not under threat. The Earth is 6000 billion billion tons of rock that has been here for over 4 billion years, not a kitten we are drowning. Gaians might believe differently, but then Gaian hypothesis was just made up from very little, it makes no sense, and the truth might be the very opposite.

Other environmentalists would say that they are trying to save animals and plants, keep biodiversity. The fact that they tend to save the cute and the majestic animals before the rest is suspect. In fact once humans have gone then whatever damage has been done the Earth will recover. That process will take a trivial time, in terms of the Earth’s history.

Cruelty and stress to animals is another answer given, but that is the way of nature. Life in the wild is harsh, and basic ecology tells us that species will expand to fill their range to the limit of available resources. Breeding will always put pressure on range and resources, and individuals will suffer and die. Human activity simply changes the size of the range and available resources, not the fact of a limit. Species cannot feel suffering.

None of this says that we should not protect the environment, or protect species, but simple pat answers don’t tell us why, and ‘why’ turns out to be critical. The rational reason for protecting the environment is human needs and human morality, as nothing else on Earth has needs that we should rationally put above our own.

We are occupying an infinitesimal amount of time in an infinitesimal amount of space in the universe. The only reason we believe Earth is special and should be preserved is that we occupy it.

This turns environmentalism on its head. We should be working for a good human environment. It does not excuse us stewardship of the Earth, but it means that we are looking after the environment for humanity and for human morality. So any higher imperative for human existence or of human morality must take preference. Whereas traditional ‘greens’ put animals and nature on a par with or more often above humanity.

The most extreme greens have indeed called for humanity’s destruction. We can see how irrational that is in that the only possible reason for that could be human morality (rendered inane as soon as the solution is achieved) or to help nature recover, which is pointless on the scale of the existence of humankind.

Down the scale of environmentalists almost all the serious activists advocate action that would seriously damage human comfort of life. The most widespread of those being massive reductions in carbon dioxide demanded by global warming alarmists. This would not only seriously restrict human lifestyle (an important consequence trivialised by those who advocate carbon restrictions, either because they think temperature is more important than people or because, like Al Gore, they know their own lifestyles will not be harmed) but it will kill millions. It is already increasing the desperate poverty in Africa, not only grinding poor people into the dust but killing them as well.

None of this makes any sense to the human environment. No moral choice to keep climate constant* is more important than the immoral act of the harm done.

The net result that can be claimed though is damage to western economies, damage to the integrated global market, political harm to large companies now unwilling to defend their activity, suppression of free economic growth and implementation of draconian rules, restricting individual freedom. All of these are aims of communists.

The connections between socialism and the hard-core environmental movement have been widely explored, and even publicised by the communists. Now the US President has appointed an avowed communist as a green adviser, most ridiculously to try to create jobs.

So the fundamentalist green movement is run through with red, and the results of the climate panic constitute a wish-list for socialism, but do more harm than good to the environment. Can anyone seriously doubt that the climate change debate is almost pure politics?

*This is the political discussion, so I am not trying to break the scientific case for anthropogenic climate change, just show that the case is politicised.

Update: I forgot to relate the politics behind this to Critical Theory, the back-door attempt to spread communism through a variety of apparently unrelated left-wing causes as detailed in the most important video I posted a link to last week. The important common factor in in the causes linked by critical theory was to attack western values and strengths. Fundamentalist environmentalists certainly aim for that.

Update: More evidence of politics in climate science.

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Goodnight Vienna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Goodnight Vienna said...

I know it's pedantic to do it twice but I forgot to close brackets!

It is politicised DR and it's being used as a weapon against us. It appeals to our best instincts which seek to nurture and preserve but there's an ulterior motive. Someone's taking the best of humanity and using it as our Achilles heel. Thanks for your scientific breakdown (I know you said it wasn't but it's more scientific than I could ever be with my 'just fuckoff and stop lying' approach).

Doubting Richard said...

Ah, yes, I really enjoyed my geology degree, so even when I am talking about the politics I base it on the science! However if we change it in honour of the commies to 'fuckoffski and stop lying' I reckon that is a sound argument too.

Don't worry about the second post, I have been known to commit similar acts of self-pedantry.

Goodnight Vienna said...

Don't encourage me, or the next thing you know I'll be investing in a cilice.

Doubting Richard said...

Nah, that's something the environmentalists will buy for you. You just have to wear it, while they lounge around self-satisfied in silk.

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