The Greening of Amerika: Earth First! vs. Liberty

Published August 1, 1999

“Environmentalism, with its ‘Earth First!’ arguments, represents a ‘Leviathan Two’ menace which may become more dangerous than old socialism,” Vaclav Klaus told a group of Heritage Foundation members in Philadelphia recently. Klaus, who grew up under a repressive communist regime to become prime minister of the free Czech Republic, has uniquely clear vision when it comes to discerning socialism from liberty.

He added, “The environmentalists’ goals are easy to praise and defend, and they are shared by many of us; but they are not suggested as competing goals which can be only partially realised. Their advocates do not accept that it is not possible to get something for nothing …

“Environmentalism is, above all, an ideology that implicitly or explicitly sees the world as infinitely complex and interdependent. However, this is an a priori statement, not a serious analytical insight. Its supporters are victims of an old doctrine which is based on the wrong conclusion that the more complex the world is, the more government control [e.g. socialism] it requires.”

Indeed, Klaus observed that, as the memory of the communist era has faded, the developed countries of Europe and North America have suddenly become socialist.

That, of course, includes the United States, and is in large part the work of the “environmental” movement–perhaps not all of its often well-meaning foot soldiers, but certainly its leaders.

Their march toward state control in this country, without regard for either individual rights or the environment is as relentless as it is obvious. That would seem to explain why:

  • Anti-development groups such as Earth First! resort to violence to prevent logging, even though the last year we harvested more trees than we planted was 1933.
  • EPA mandates the use of a fuel additive that increases the cost of gasoline and has been proven to pollute water–without reducing air pollution.
  • The Clinton-Gore administration has restricted use of land by declaring millions of acres to be national monuments. It has plans to so categorize millions more–even though nearly 50 percent of American land is already government-owned.
  • EPA is in the process of banning agricultural pesticides, calling them health hazards, even though science does not support such a claim. The average American’s life expectancy has climbed from about 57 years, when we first began using the pesticides, to nearly 89 years today.
  • Anti-growth activists claim world population will soon outstrip our ability to feed ourselves. But the birth rate has been declining for over 30 years, and population has been increasing at an annual rate of just 1.7 percent. Basic food supplies are growing more rapidly–wheat by 2 percent, rice by 3.5 percent. There are vast areas of unplanted farmland worldwide: 60 million unplanted acres in the U.S., for example, and about 90 million in Argentina.
  • Anti-industry groups say we must close factories because they are creating toxic acid rain. But a ten-year federal study, the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, found no widespread acid rain damage. The report also noted that the effects of air pollution on trees are small compared to other factors affecting tree health.
  • The Clinton-Gore Administration is promoting the Kyoto “global warming” Protocol even though the computer models used to predict the extent of warming are consistently wrong. In the full report on which the Protocol is based, scientists expressed grave reservations about the theory of human-caused global warming and acknowledged their inability to predict climate change with current knowledge and tools. But those reservations never made it into the brief “policymakers summary” given to most of the press.

If ratified, the Protocol would give the federal government control over nearly every aspect of American life, including transportation, land use, and all forms of manufacturing and agricultural production.

“Socialism. 1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or government ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. 2a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property …” — Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

Smart guy, that Vaclav Klaus.

Editor’s note: Much of the data for this column is from Michael Sanera and Jane S. Shaw’s excellent book, Facts Not Fear: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Children about the Environment. It is scrupulously well-documented and an excellent read for adults as well. It is published by Regnery Publishing Company, Washington, DC.