Environmentalists need to understand humanity, not economics

Steven Horwitz writing at the Foundation for Economic Education for an esoteric audience under the headline “Why Environmentalists Need to Understand Economics”—few people understand economics, or care to (of course, they should); and no rational person understands environmentalists (they don’t care about humanity).

Prof. Horwitz believes that “sophisticated environmental arguments” are challenging and interesting because “they often use ideas and terms that are frequently used to describe economic systems.” With due respect to the professor he makes some good points about economics but, in my opinion, doesn’t understand the depraved minds of radical environmentalists. They have no “sophisticated” arguments because their objectives are flawed; often inhumane. They look for problems to match socialist solutions. Environmentalism is synonymous with socialism; in its ultimate goals.

Apparently, the professor has had encounters, although what he calls “miscommunication,” with some of these people. But he thinks “economics can add to the way environmentalists often see these issues” (in my experience, only one way—and the wrong way.) These people never compromise, back off, or give up.

Their mission is to subvert our economic system using Marxist tactics. The “environment” and many of its components emotionally resonates with most people—the baited hook that brings people into the religious tent of Gaia. But central planning and government force eventually is required to meet their demands that subvert free markets and reduce consumer choices.

The politics of climate change strongly illustrates the fallacy that capitalism-based economics and environmentalism are compatible in any way.

It’s possible that some skeptics of the theory of manmade climate change may add to their understanding with better knowledge of economics, but the “dismal science” will not influence the established cultish religion of cause and effect. For example: human activities cause climate change and the effects will be catastrophic—the science is settled; end of discussion.

Prof. Horwitz notes that environmentalists and economists use similar words such as “resources, scarcity, and efficiency” assuming that in some way these words unite our ideas. But economists use these terms and ideas in a positive and constructive sense, environmentalists use them negatively to frighten and mislead people.

Horwitz writes, “both ecology and economics share the same prefix.” So do ecotourism and ecoterrorism but they represent dramatically different methods in having people appreciate and use the environment.

The professor says we should “listen to each other more carefully.” That’s nice, but radical environmentalists (that set the agenda, propaganda campaign and the political tactics) don’t want to listen; they demand we not only listen to them but support their government policy proposals and obey radical regulations of existing law.

Recently, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency decreed that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant, leading to massive unnecessary and expensive regulations on our lifestyles based on a benign gas, ironically necessary for life on this planet. In fact, many earth scientists believe that higher levels of CO2—that increases following warming, not causes warming— would benefit many areas of the world.

It’s commendable of Prof. Horwitz to suggest engaging “more sophisticated environmentalist arguments” with “defenders of free enterprise.” As one of those defenders and a scientist I’ve had little success in attempts at reasonable dialogue with these people. Maybe I’m getting cynical, but I think we are too far apart in our worldviews to join with “the trickiest issues” increasingly forced on us by environmentalists.

Instead of sharing their language (“words”) we must use our thinking to rebut their misguided ideas and fight against their political tactics. That will require understanding who they are; in what ways they attack our economic systems; and how they infiltrate and influence our political system. We should also learn to understand how they misuse science to support their unscientific ideas.

And rather than trying to get environmentalists to understand economics, we should try to make the case that they learn more about humanity.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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