Jay – As I say in my piece, “No doubt most individuals who turn off their lights will not see their actions as a choice of death over life. And the logic of bad ideas often is offset by other ideas, habits, and traditions. After all, few environmentalists actually live according to their own creed. Not many people actually try to surrender civilization with its jet travel, iPhones, Starbucks, and Whole Foods.”
But as I explained on Objectivist Living, my broader point is with the logical consequences of this intrinsic view of the value of the environment. The more people take seriously the notion that the Earth has a value above and beyond its value to humans—enjoying forests because they’re pleasant to walk in or cutting their trees for lumber—the more we will see of the pathologies I highlight in the piece: a self-torturing asceticism; calls for population reduction, government thugs enforcing environmental dictates. And the threats are immediate.
Further, those threats are based on taking seriously wrong ideas such as the intrinsic value of the environment. By the time these ideas are ingrained in a large part of the population—with young people who’ve been brainwashed becoming adult voters, politicians, journalists, teachers—it will be too late to stop the threat for a generation.
We need to paint a stark picture now before we reach the point of no easy return. Think of all the evils that are being foisted on us by politicians that would have been unthinkable 20-30 years ago. It’s over time that ideas and values are changed, for better or worse, preparing the ground for what’s to come politically. Several decades ago a $2 trillion “cap-and-trade” tax would have been laughed at by Democrats as well as Republicans. Now, because of the fuzzy thinking and propaganda on global warming, it could well become law.
You’re right that it is important to encourage critical thinking and focus on the merits of the science of the global warming debate. That will cause a lot of people whose values are not corrupted or, perhaps, are mixed up but not too badly, to back off support for draconian policies.
And there’s nothing wrong with having intelligent discussions about the environment in terms of sound public policy. There’s been a lot of good work done in this area on the property rights approach.
But we must be certain to always relate these discussions to human good. We should say to people that “You don’t want your kids growing up in a world choking on smoke but you don’t want them growing up in world literally moving backwards, with built-in reductions of living standards and with a philosophy that makes them feel guilty for being a productive human.”