This section of DiscoverTheNetworks explores the worldviews, activities, and agendas of radical environmentalism, a movement whose goal is not the advancement of human health, human happiness, and human life, but rather the creation of a world where "nature" is deemed to have "intrinsic value" that ought to be revered for its own sake, irrespective of any benefit to mankind. Radical environmentalists espouse "deep ecology," which asserts that the environment is an end in itself and that man is an intruder -- if not a rapist and despoiler -- who should have no greater priority than any other species. From this axiom, they reason that any human action that changes the environment is necessarily immoral.
Notably, radical environmentalists invoke the doctrine of intrinsic value not against wolves that eat sheep, or beavers that gnaw trees; they invoke it only against man, only when man wants to use natural resources for the advancement of some business endeavor. Thus they tend to reflexively oppose the pursuit of such endeavors as oil exploration, logging, housing development, and all manner of commerce.
A logical corollary to this view is the premise that free-market economic systems are inherently plagued by greed and by a willingness to exploit the environment to whatever degree is necessary for maximum profit, without regard for any resultant ecological harm. Consequently, a hallmark of radical environmentalism is its hostility to capitalism and its embrace of socialism as a preferred economic model.
It is imperative to distinguish radical environmentalism from conservationism -- the rational, or conservative, brand of environmentalism that rejects any and all gratuitous or preventable damage to the natural world. Conservationism is committed to minimizing air pollution, water pollution, the destruction of natural ecosystems, and the unnecessary depletion of natural resources. By the same token, however, it understands that the potential benefits of progress and industry (conducted in an environmentally responsible manner) may sometimes justify mankind's manipulation/exploitation of landscapes, forests, rivers, mineral reserves, etc. Robert Locke's "The Right Conservative Position on the Environment" does an excellent job of distinguishing between radical environmentalism and conservationism.
The RESOURCES column located on the right side of this page contains links to articles, essays, books, and videos that explore such topics as:
- the worldviews, objectives, and tactics of the radical environmentalist movement;
- the widespread acceptance of radical environmentalism's tenets as articles of faith that are not subject to doubt or to scientific scrutiny;
- the radical environmentalist movement's warning that mankind's industrial activity and its polluting by-products are responsible for the phenomenon of "global warming" which, we are told, will ultimately lead to the mass extinction of human and animal life in vast regions of the globe;
- legislative "cap-and-trade" measures that would set a limit, or cap, on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion;
- the environmental movement's push for so-called "green jobs," which have proven to be economically disastrous in practice;
- the mythology claiming that the pesticide DDT posed serious environmental and health hazards -- a fallacy that led to a ban on the substance and consequently contributed to the unnecessary deaths of some 50 million people;
- how radical environmentalists' concern for plants and animals that are allegedly on the verge of extinction, can have far-reaching consequences vis à vis the private-property rights of people;
- how leftist policies that are ostensibly designed to protect the natural environment commonly result in unintended, unforeseen disasters (e.g., the radical environmentalist movement's efforts to ban the pesticide DDT resulted in more than 50 million needless deaths);
- how the tenets of radical environmentalism are incorporated into school curricula at every level of education, thereby indoctrinating ever-growing numbers of young people; and
- how the actual state of the natural environment in contemporary America contradicts the doomsday predictions of radical environmentalists.