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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Human Achievement and Joy on Earth Day

Most of the environmentalist groups celebrating Earth Day today advocate the draconian curtailment of basic productive activities that support and improve the lives of human beings. They are not proud to live on Earth, but ashamed of it. They do not celebrate Earth as our home, but condemn us as its intruders. The basic activities which are requirements and essential functions of man's life are destroying the Earth, they say. They argue that it is a fight and an irresolvable conflict between the Earth's well being and ours- and they side with the Earth. They believe if we want to continue living here that we need to renounce and give up the activities that are required by our human nature to live more like the animals. What else is the meaning and final result of their pet initiatives like steep emissions caps, heavy carbon taxes, and suffocating environmental regulations?

The truth is that energy is a necessary foundation of human economic activity. It has brought unprecedented improvements to the human condition. And most of it is presently produced by means of burning the hydrocarbons in fossil fuels. The kind of laws and regulations clamored for by typical environmental advocacy groups on the basis of shoddy pseudo-science will strangle production, rocket prices, demolish standards of living (especially for the poor), prevent the third world from developing, and leave humanity in the darkness (think "Earth Hour") of the pre-industrial era. The truth is that most of today's proceedings, which are billed as Pro-Earth are in fact, Anti-Man. I am encouraged to know that not all environmentalists are like this. Not all are apocalyptic doomsday prophets that consider your central heating and your car a sin.

It is along with these true environmentalists that I celebrate Earth Day in my own way. It is to their growing chorus of voices that I add mine in singing the joy we have at living on this Earth- at being human on this Earth and using its vast storehouse of resources to sustain and improve our lives. It is with them that I marvel at the power of human achievement and at the one most truly inexhaustible, most truly renewable resource at our disposal- the infinite potential of the human mind. I salute the Earth today and express my utmost gratitude to the minds that have reshaped the Earth and the materials in it to meet the requirements of humanity's survival and happiness. I am overjoyed when I consider that:

  • Fossil fuels power and heat the homes of millions, giving them light to see and warmth to live by.
  • DDT and other pesticides are saving millions of lives by killing malaria-causing mosquitoes and increasing crop yields to feed hungry people.
  • Science and genetic engineering are giving us more food with less land by improving per-acre crop yields.
  • Logging companies plant hundreds of millions of trees every year to create the wood for our homes, the books we read, and the notebook paper students use to learn.
  • Improved transportation and communication has brought the world closer together than ever before.
  • Fresh drinking water comes in sealed plastic bottles to relieve thirsty disaster victims.
  • Poverty is disappearing from the world in the glow of a second Industrial Revolution taking place in the developing world as we speak.
  • I already live in the glowing prosperity of post-industrial civilization and enjoy all its comforts and conveniences.

My song today is Joy!

Joy, beautiful spark of gods
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter drunk with fire,
Heavenly one, your sanctuary!
Your magic binds again
What custom strictly divided.
All men become brothers,
Where your gentle wing rests.
Joy all creatures drink
At the breasts of nature;
All good, all bad
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us, and wine,
Glad, as His suns fly
Through the Heaven's glorious design,
Run, brothers, your race,
Joyful, as a hero to victory.
Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of gods


  1. Hm...

    I agree that there are environmentalists out there, especially some of the radical ones, who do "side with the Earth" in the perceived conflict between mankind and the planet, and that this view is illogical and very one-sided.

    At the same time, I do think that the environment needs to be respected. You wouldn't completely trash your own home lightly. And if moving to a new house (because the old one is uninhabitable) is incredibly inefficient, just imagine what moving to a new planet would involve (which we aren't even able to do at this point).

    I'm not saying that we should have draconian laws to protect the environment, but as individuals, I believe we should be more aware of how we can impact the world and what those effects will mean for us.

    I think it's an error to view the whole environmental issue as man vs nature. After all, man is a part of nature. We're in this together.

  2. Thank you for concisely summarizing a level-headed, reasonable approach to the issue. You're absolutely right... none of us actually want to go around fouling up our air and water. We need to be conscientious about our actions' effects. I think one of the best ways to make sure we are is the strict enforcement of private property laws in a free society.