Posted by on 8 January 2008 at 7:50 am  Environmentalism
Jan 082008

(Note: I meant to post this entry a few weeks ago, but it got lost in the queue. It’s still relevant, however.)

Well, it’s hardly a loss to the world that some eco-freaks refuse to reproduce:

At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years [Toni] was sterilised to “protect the planet”. Incredibly, instead of mourning the loss of a family that never was, her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card.

While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an almost religious zeal. “Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,” says Toni, 35. “Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population.”

While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future.

Mark adds: “Sarah and I live as green a life a possible. We don’t have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly. “We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food. “In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child.

“That’s why I had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for me to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth. “Sarah and I don’t need children to feel complete. What makes us happy is knowing that we are doing our bit to save our precious planet.”

I doubt that organic-buying soccer moms will be rushing to sterilize themselves anytime soon. That’s one reason why I don’t regard the ecological movement as a long-term threat anywhere in par with religion, as dangerous as it might be in the short-term.

In its most consistent form, the ecological movement is nothing better than nihilistic destruction of human life. That’s not true of its mass base, however. Most ordinary-folk “environmentalists” are moved by the worry that we’re destroying the environment in ways that will be ultimately harmful to human life. They’re wrong in that embrace of environmentalism, as real as environmental destruction can be, but they’re not nihilists ready and eager to sterilize themselves for the sake of the planet.

To put the point in the standard terms of environmental philosophy, most ordinary folk describing themselves as “environmentalists” are fundamentally anthropocentric (i.e. human-centered) in their reasoning. They think that preserving and protecting the environment is necessary for human well-being. In contrast, the ideological leaders of the environmental movement disdain all such anthropocentric thinking. They regard nature as valuable for its own sake. It’s not just living beings (including rats, slugs, and deadly bacteria) that have such intrinsic value, often rocks and rivers to too. Humans are also intrinsically valuable. So we count for something, albeit much in the same way that the individual counts for something in utilitarian calculations with a global population of billions. Actually, we’re not even all that, since humans do so much damage to other species and environments without contributing anything good in return. (For a prominent example of this general view, see Paul Taylor’s well-known article “Biocentric Egalitarianism.”) The explicit purpose of environmental ethics is to de-humanize ethics, i.e. to remove humans from the forefront of ethical concern.

In contrast, no such disconnect between the ideology of leaders and mass base can be found in religion. The ideology is not nihilistic. Instead, religion promises all the wealth of values that the faithful might imagine in the afterlife. That can motivate mass fervor and mass sacrifice in this life. It is a possible basis for centuries of unquestioned darkness, destruction, and ignorance — as the history of Europe shows quite clearly.

So as dangerous as environmentalism is on a policy level, I do not see it as a possible driving force for some new world order. Although it has broad support, it does not have deep support necessary to make “eco-topia” the goal of more than a few man-hating nutters.

Micro Nuclear Reactor

 Posted by on 22 December 2007 at 9:42 am  Environmentalism
Dec 222007

I want one of these:

Toshiba Builds 100x Smaller Micro Nuclear Reactor

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.

Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.

Here is more information. If this NY Times article is correct, the system is safe, simple, and relatively inexpensive.

(For some reason, the people who are so concerned about global warming and energy independence never seem to mention this as an option, and would rather ban incandescent light bulbs.)

Dec 192007

The new energy bill (passed by Congress and just signed into law by President Bush) will outlaw the traditional incandescent light bulb over the next several years, requiring instead more expensive “energy efficient” bulbs as part of the fight against global warming. Of course, if these new bulbs are more cost-effective in the long run, then there’s no need to mandate their use. And if they aren’t, then this is just another burden on consumers. Either way, it’s a violation of the individual rights of producers and consumers of the incandescent bulbs.

This is on top of the recent shameful capitulation by the US on global warming policy at the recent international Bali conference, in which the US gave into the demands of the rest of the world.

Those who think that the Republicans and/or the religious conservatives will provide any kind of principled defense against the anti-reason and anti-human views of the environmentalists are in for a rude awakening.

Here are some links to recent news stories.

From USA Today, 12/16/2007:

It’s lights out for traditional light bulbs

Turn out the lights on traditional incandescent bulbs.

A little-noticed provision of the energy bill, which is expected to become law, phases out the 125-year-old bulb in the next four to 12 years in favor of a new generation of energy-efficient lights that will cost consumers more but return their investment in a few months.

The new devices include current products such as compact fluorescents and halogens, as well as emerging products such as light-emitting diodes and energy-saving incandescent bulbs.

…Under the measure, all light bulbs must use 25% to 30% less energy than today’s products by 2012 to 2014. The phase-in will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70% more efficient.

(Disclaimer: I have no idea how the still-legal “energy-saving incandescent bulbs” differ from the forbidden “traditional incandescent bulbs”.)

From AP News, 12/19/2007:

Bush signs bill boosting fuel standards

President Bush signed into law Wednesday legislation that will bring more fuel-efficient vehicles into auto showrooms and require wider use of ethanol, calling it “a major step” toward energy independence and easing global warming.

…The bill also calls for improved energy efficiency of appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers, and a 70 percent increase in the efficiency of light bulbs. It also calls for energy efficiency improvements in federal buildings and construction of commercial buildings.

From the Christian Science Monitor, 12/17/2007:

Bali Climate Deal Marks a Geopolitical Shift

…South Africa said that the US position “was most unwelcome and without any basis.” Then Kevin Conrad, who headed Papua-New Guinea’s delegation, rose and turned Mr. Connaughton’s comment on its head.

…Confronted with the prospect of overwhelming isolation, [chief US negotiator] Dobriansky relented, saying, “We will join the consensus.”

…Many longtime observers say it was the most stunning reversal they had ever seen at one of these meetings.

From the Christian Science Monitor, 12/20/07:

Many Religious Leaders Back Climate-Change Action

Religious groups in the United States and around the world have steadily adopted pro-environment positions. At Christmastime this shift has been particularly evident regarding global climate change.

…More than 100 influential evangelical leaders have signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) to fight global warming, the [Christian] Post article says. They’re asking governments and individuals to reduce CO2 emissions.

The ECI concludes that global warming is real. The Post article quotes from the initiative’s statement:

“Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures…. Climate change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship, and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better.”

…According to one recent poll mentioned in a story by The Economist, two-thirds of Evangelicals want immediate action on global warming. The story continues:

“The new mood reflects a generational change among evangelicals, says Andrew Walsh, a religion-watcher at Trinity College, Hartford [Conn.]. The younger lot wants to focus more on issues such as AIDS and the crisis in Darfur – a cluster of concerns that have more in common with climate change than with crusading against homosexuality.”

Although I’m sure it’s unintentional, I find it ironic that the environmentalists and the evangelicals are teaming up to extinguish Thomas Edison’s traditional incandescent light bulb, the long-time symbol of reason and thought.


 Posted by on 26 November 2007 at 8:30 am  Environmentalism, Religion
Nov 262007

Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is probably the most prominent political advocate of Christian environmentalism today. He’ll be joined by more people in short order, however — particularly as younger Christian fundamentalists raised on the environmentalist propaganda taught in schools rise to power and influence.

Huckabee is interviewed on environmental and energy issues in Salon: Huckabee: God wants us to fight global warming. Here’s the introduction:

“The first thing I will do as president is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence,” [Huckabee] proclaims on his Web site. “We will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term.” The goal may sound admirable, but even if it’s achievable — and many experts doubt that it is — Huckabee’s plan for getting there is light on specifics. Rather than spell out what steps he would take, he talks of creating a market environment that encourages innovation, and he praises just about every energy source you can think of — nuclear, “clean coal,” wind, solar, hydrogen, biomass, biodiesel, corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other untapped domestic areas, and, yes, conservation too.

A conservative Republican and devout Christian, Huckabee believes he has a biblical responsibility to protect God’s planet from climate change, even though he’s not convinced that climate change is largely human-caused. But mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions make him squeamish.

Here’s the only philosophic exchange in the ensuing interview:

What makes you the strongest Republican candidate on the issues of energy and the environment?

For one thing, I’m one of the few people who’s actually talked about the fact that as Republicans we have done a lousy job of presenting the case for conservation. We ought to be the leaders, but unfortunately we’ve been the last people speaking out on conservation.

Not only as a Republican, but as a Christian it’s important to me to say to my fellow believers, “Look, if anybody ought to be leading on this issue, it ought to be us.” We can’t justify destroying a planet that doesn’t belong to us, and if we believe that God did create this world for our pleasure and wants us to enjoy it, then all the more reason that we should take care of it.

Christian “stewardship” environmentalism seems particularly dangerous to me. The reason isn’t just that Republicans are adopting bad Democratic policies. They’ve done that so often, including on environmentalism, that another instance hardly newsworthy.

My major concern lies in the philosophic differences between Christian environmentalism and leftist environmentalism. Leftist environmentalism is nihilistic in its essence: it’s hatred and destruction of humanity for its own sake. While its intellectual leaders are often genuine nihilists, its mass appeal largely depends on the wish of preserving nature for ultimately human ends. That’s misguided in various ways, but it’s not wholly philosophically corrupt.

In contrast, Christan environmentalism is not based on nihilistic hatred of humanity. Instead, it envisions humans as the exalted steward of God’s creation. That difference could give it tremendous staying power and mass appeal, even in its most pure form. That’s because it appeals to positive values, however mangled by supernaturalism. In the classification scheme of Leonard Peikoff’s DIM Hypothesis, Christian environmentalism seems to be a form of “Misintegration” rather than “Disintegration.” That’s a significant shift.

Of course, that difference won’t make this new form environmentalism kindler or gentler in practice. Whether of a supernatural or nihilistic variety, environmentalism will require the sacrifice of actual human values and human lives.

That doesn’t bode well for those of us who value human life.

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