Tag Archives: anti-humanism

Anti-humanism infects environmental movement

WESLEY J. SMITH writes that environmentalists have declared war on human beings . . .

Wesley J. Smith

Wesley J. Smith

The environmental movement has long indulged a tinge of misanthropy at the fringes. For example, advocates for a “deep ecology” argue that each facet of the natural world (including humans) are equal, and must be given “equal consideration” when reaping the bounty of the land.

Deep ecologists adamantly oppose our materially prospering from the exploitation of natural resources. Indeed, they demand that we sacrifice our own material thriving in order to make common cause with flora and fauna. Deep ecology even advocates for a collapse of human population to one billion. Alas, such explicit anti-humanism has chewed its way from the radical edges to the environmental mainstream in both its advocacy and policy agendas, all in the name of “saving the planet.”

This problem is epitomized vividly by Noah, Darren Arnofsky’s radical environmentalist film. Arnofsky’s “Creator” doesn’t decide to destroy humanity because of man’s unrighteousness, but to — yes — save the earth. You see, after being kicked out of Eden, man became industrial: strip mining minerals, exhausting the soil, and generally despoiling the environment. Noah’s family is not to “be fruitful and multiply,” but to save the animals and die off so that Earth can again become a paradise.

Such anti-humanism has become the norm in contemporary environmentalism. Sir David Attenborough, for example, has called humans “a plague on the earth.” Similarly, the environmentalist rock star David Suzuki has called human beings “maggots” who crawl around “defecating all over the environment.” These antihuman ideas are deployed to convince us to adopt human-harming public policies. Reasonable people can differ on the persuasiveness of the evidence for man-caused global warming. But surely, human flourishing should not be sacrificed in the cause.

Yet, that’s precisely the future for which many warming alarmists yearn. Thus, a 2009 article in the New Yorker by David Owen promoted economic decline. Owen lauded a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the worldwide recession. But he worried that “the environmental benefits of economic decline, though real, are fragile because they are vulnerable to intervention by governments…which want to put people back to work.” Owen argued that saving the earth from overheating would require us to “accept policies that push us back toward the [economic] abyss.”

That’s exactly what will happen if we grant flora and fauna the “right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate vital cycles,” as advocated by the “nature rights” movement. Taking a page out of the Deep Ecology playbook, activists argue that nature be given equal consideration to the needs of humans whenever we want to develop the land. The economic consequences of such a policy should be obvious.

Bolivia and Ecuador, as well as some 30 U.S. municipalities legally recognize nature rights. Demonstrating its mainstream appeal, U.N. secretary general Ban-ki Moon favors the idea.

If nature rights can be envisioned as a shield against resource development, the fast-growing “ecocide” movement is the sword that would punish it. Ecocide would criminalize large-scale development as the “fifth crime against peace,” an evil deemed equivalent by its advocates to genocide. The Eradicating Ecocide Global Initiative website says: “Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.” Note that “peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants” includes everything from grass, fish, and insects to mice, snakes, and people.

Switzerland has declared the intrinsic dignity of individual plants in its constitution. A river in New Zealand has been granted full rights of “personhood,” as an “integrated, living whole.” The Department of Interior refused to permit residents of the remote Alaskan fishing town of King Cove to cut a one-lane gravel road through the wilderness for use in emergency medical evacuations. Why? Because Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said, “I have to listen to the animals.”

Anti-human environmentalists have declared war on humans, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should meekly go along. We are not cancers! We should oppose Green anti-humanism wherever it is advocated precisely because we support good earth stewardship policies that promote liberty and allow us to reach the level of prosperity required to properly protect the environment.

WESLEY J. SMITH is a senior fellow in the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. His e-book “The War on Humans” can be found at waronhumans.com

Anti-humanism subverts environmental movement

Wesley J. Smith contends that the environmental movement has gone much too far  . . .

Wesley J. Smith

Environmentalism has done so much good — conservation, our national parks, cleaning up the air and rivers, remediating toxic waste dumps, and the list goes on. But something has gone terribly awry.

Beginning with “deep ecology” in the 1970s — which proclaims a moral equality between people and nature and advocates radical human depopulation — a nihilistic misanthropy has slowly but surely shrouded environmentalism. It has gotten so bad that conservation and preventing pollution, once the hallmarks of environmentalism, now often take a back seat to thwarting the development of resources in the service of an ideology that is becoming explicitly anti-human.

Consider the campaign to prevent global warming. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that many advocates who view people as potential “planet killers” fall prey to the misanthropic temptation — including support for radical population control and policies — to choke prosperity as a way of lessening our carbon footprints.

Some even extol China’s authoritarian policies. Thus, Financial Post columnist Diane Francis opined that controlling global warming will require “a China one-child policy,” which unleashed massive numbers of female infanticides and forced abortions. Similarly, the Times of London reported in 2009 that “Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population … must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming … even if it means shifting money from curing illness to increasing contraception and abortion.” Yikes!

Global warming isn’t the half of it. We now see successful environmental advocacy to grant “rights” to “nature.” Yes, you read correctly — “nature rights.” Under this neo-paganistic belief, “Mother Nature is a living being” with “the right to life and to exist,” the “right to be respected,” to “continue vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions,” (which is more than can be said for fetuses).

“Nature rights” isn’t something to worry about tomorrow: It’s happening today. Ecuador and Bolivia have already granted constitutional rights to nature. In contrast, recognizing nature as a rights-bearing entity has been promoted in the USA primarily at the local level. More than 20 U.S. cities — including Pittsburgh and Santa Monica — have legally recognized nature rights, under which anyone may sue on behalf of nature to enjoin development projects from going forward.

If nature rights can be conceived of as a shield protecting Mother Nature, she also needs a spear with which to punish her rapists. That is where “ecocide,” a new proposed international crime envisioned as equivalent to genocide, comes in. According to the This Is Ecocide website: “Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given Territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.” Please pay very close attention: The word “inhabitants” does not necessarily — or even primarily — refer to human beings. Rather, it includes flora and fauna, meaning that ecocide would put people in jail for displacing plants, insects, field mice, birds, snakes, deer, etc. — no matter how beneficial the use of the land would be to human thriving.

Ecocide isn’t primarily about punishing pollution, although events like the Exxon Valdez oil spill would probably be included. Rather, ecocide is designed to chill corporate leaders from even contemplating large scale resource extraction for fear of being put in the dock at The Hague. Last fall ecocide campaigners held a mock trial in the chambers of the UK Supreme Court “prosecuting” two fictional CEOs for the “crime” of developing the Alberta Tar Sands. One CEO was “sentenced” to four years in prison for the heinous act of helping liberate the West from dependence on Middle East oil.

Why has environmentalism moved in such an economically destructive, potentially authoritarian, and decidedly misanthropic direction? The heart of the problem is that environmentalists increasingly reject human exceptionalism. Believing that we should consider ourselves just another animal among others on the planet, they push us toward self-flagellating policies and a societally enervating moral relativism that elevates nature to the moral status of humans. This actually has the effect of devaluing people to the level of flora and fauna.

At a more fundamental level, green misanthropy reflects how much of society is moving past “post-Christianity” and toward an explicit “anti-Christianity.” What better way to break the spine of the Judeo-Christian worldview than to subvert society’s belief in the unique dignity and moral worth of human beings? If enough of us accept that reductionist self-definition, the faith will totter into general irrelevance, perhaps to be replaced by the neo-earth religion we see forming among some greens in which the creation is worshiped rather than the Creator.

Wesley J. Smith is an award-winning author and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

National Catholic Bioethics Center