Rebirth of Reason

War for Men's Minds

Environmentalism and the Efficacy of Man
by Joseph Rowlands

The debate over global warming has some interesting roles taken by its participants. The environmentalists usually take the position that man is a pathetic and worthless abomination. But theyíve taken a peculiar stance here. They emphasize the efficacy of man, assigning responsibility of all climate change to human industry, dismissing potential factors like the sun.

In a single breath, they claim that man is powerful enough to shape the earth, and too irrational to use that power without destroying the earth. They make the mistake of recognizing manís efficacy, while deny the source of that efficacy, his reasoning mind. They aim to create an impression of an infant holding a gun.

Of course, itís not terribly surprising that they would uphold manís strength. They want to invalidate that strength. Ignoring or denying it would do them no good. They need what all witch-doctors have needed as their tool Ė morality. They want to subvert that strength, and turn it against itself. To do that, they need only declare it evil. The rest of the junk science is just their attempt to convince other people of the evil of technology, production, and wealth.

Another reversal of roles is among some free-marketers who oppose the scare-mongering of the environmentalists. These people, in the hopes of defeating the environmentalistsí arguments, claim that man really is pathetic and weak, and couldnít possibly affect the environment. They try to pretend that his strength isnít very great, and so itís only a minor evil. Not worth getting excited about. Weíre too weak to do any real harm.

Of course, they will lose the war with that strategy. This is a moral war. These defenders of freedom are conceding the moral argument in the hopes of sliding by on a technicality. And worse, the technicality also bolsters the environmentalist position by granting that man is weak and pathetic as well. This is ultimately self-defeating. It upholds the weak as a sign of moral strength. It promotes a small image of man in order to hide his alleged ugliness. No thanks.

Now it may be that man has almost no impact on the climate. Thatís not the point. The issue is whether the standard of morality is man and his life, or the lives of frogs and fungi. Manís efficacy must be a source of pride, not shame. Dodging the bullet by downplaying manís efficacy will not stop the environmentalists.

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