Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How Earth Day Anti-Industrialists Hijack ‘Science’ to Deny Humans the Benefits of Science

Earth Day, established in 1970, is the leading symbol of the movement that began with the 1960s New Left “back-to-nature” ecology movement. Under its more sophisticated ideological Environmentalism incarnation, Earth Day works from the premise that holds “pristine”—i.e., humanly unaltered—nature as its standard of value and moral ideal.

Though spearheaded by anti-industrialism, Earth Day also drew in many people concerned about some very real problems with pollution. Since 1970, anti-pollution efforts have made our industrial society cleaner even as industrial progress continued apace—so much cleaner, in fact, that by 2000 environmentalist ideologues didn’t have much to complain about in the way of pollution control. Instead of industrial stagnation and decline—“back to nature”—we got cleaner industrial progress and growth. Air and water pollution declined steadily even as industrialism progressed. This was not the result the Earth Day fundamentalists wanted. So in order to keep its anti-industrial campaign alive, the focus was switched to global warming—the alleged environmental disaster of disasters—and a consequent war on fossil fuels.

Think of what this means in the context of Earth Day’s new March for Science project.

Scientific knowledge is the starting point for the productive process that ends in nature-altering, human life-enhancing material products made from Earth’s raw materials. Everything from transportation, agriculture, building materials, medical industry, indoor plumbing, central heating and air conditioning to electrification, high tech communications, space travel, movies, the printing press, and the energy that drives it all—the list is endless—is the result of science leading to invention leading to investment leading to the entrepreneurial business corporation that transforms it all into useful, mass market products for the betterment of the “common” people.

This role of science as man’s benefactor clashes diametrically with the fundamental meaning of Earth Day. Don’t forget, this is the movement that tells us that carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas without which life as we know it couldn’t exist on Earth, is a pollutant, because it is a factor in climate change (which, they claim, is bad only to the extent human activity is a factor). The declaration of CO2 as a pollutant is a direct attack on human life, because humans are by nature “CO2 machines.” As Princeton physics professor William Happer observed, "If you want to get rid of CO2, you want to get rid of people.”

Foremost in the environmentalists’ crosshairs is reliable, affordable, progressive, industrial scale energy—hydro, nuclear, and especially fossil fuels, all of which are derived from the science-led productive process cited above. Why focus their hostility on fossil fuels? Because energy is the industry that makes all of the rest possible—the industry of industry—and fossil fuels at this time are the most used and most practical of the three reliables. In particular, the environmentalists target fracking, an amazing leading edge technology derived from scientific knowledge that has unlocked vast new heretofore unreachable shale oil and gas energy sources; and coal, the most plentiful fossil fuel, for abolition. All of these energy technologies are vital to human progress. All are targeted for outlawing. (Never mind solar and wind. These so-called “renewables” are scientifically proven to be incapable of powering industrial civilization, which is precisely why environmentalists champion them. You can bet that if science ever discovers the knowledge needed to make solar and wind superior economically and technologically and in reliability to fossil fuels, the environmentalists would turn against them, too.)

It follows from the logic of their premises that environmentalists oppose capitalism, the only social system that delivers the human freedom necessary to transform science into practicality. What is the leading economic achievement of capitalism? The institution that forms the last vital link in the productive chain that starts with science and ends with general material abundance and prosperity—business. The businessman organizes all of the factors of product toward a productive goal that betters people lives. Steve Jobs got to the heart of the virtue of the business corporation:

The only purpose, for me, in building a company is so that that company can make products. One is a means to the other. Over a period of time you realize that building a very strong company and a very strong foundation of talent and culture in a company is essential to keep making great products.

The company is one of the most amazing inventions of humans, this abstract construct that’s incredibly powerful. Even so, for me, it’s about the products. It’s about working together with really fun, smart. Creative people and making wonderful things. It’s not about the money. What a company is, then, is a group of people who can make more than just the next big thing. It’s a talent, it’s a capability, it’s a culture, it’s a point of view, and it’s a way of working together to make the next thing, and the next thing, and the next one. [P. 232]

Notice how much the Environmentalists hate business, railing against it as “greedy corporate polluters” and such. They promote business-hobbling statism at every turn, through a growing labyrinth of stifling environmental and other regulations in its path. Is it any wonder? The business corporation is the indispensable link between the knowledge of the scientist and the fulfillment of human needs and desires—i.e., industrial progress. Why would Environmentalists want to hobble or break business? For the same reason Steve Jobs loves it.

It seems outrageously hypocritical. You can’t love science and hate business. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of science? What is the role of science? It is to discover new knowledge of the natural world we live in. To what purpose? To give humans the tools of technological industrial development. Why? To reshape the danger-filled, hostile environment nature gives us into a safe, clean environment for humans to live and flourish in. It is this very human reshaping—the reshaping that science makes possible—that environmentalists want to “protect” nature from.

Yet environmentalism extolls science and hates business and capitalism. This only seems like a paradox. Environmentalists don’t really love science. The environmentalism that is manifested as Earth Day seeks to use science to deny humans the practical benefits of science—on principle.

Don’t fall for the new “science” aspect of Earth Day. Science is too important to human progress. Man cannot live and flourish without impacting nature in a big way. This is not to say all human impact is good. The value of science is as a means to maximize human flourishing on Earth—good impact—while minimizing the negative side effects—the bad impacts. The role of ideological Environmentalism is to minimize human impact on his Earth, whatever the cost to human well-being, for the sake of their moral ideal—not human flourishing, but non-impact as an end in itself. The two premises are diametrically opposed.

So why bring science into Earth Day?

Science—the physical sciences—will give you the knowledge. It will not tell you what to do with it or about it. That’s up to human judgement. For that, you need a moral standard of value. Only the science of ethics can give you that. That’s the science that environmentalists ignore. Hence, what is good or bad for humans does not enter their evaluations. They tell you climate is changing because of human activity. That, by their standard of value, is by that very fact bad. If you disagree with their nihilistic anti-humanist solutions, based on an ethical evaluation that answers “good or bad for humans,” they smear you as anti-science or a climate denier.

Environmentalists seek to exploit science for the purpose of “proving” that man is ruining the planet—or, as Pope Francis asserts, is turning the Earth into “an immense pile of filth”—in order to stop the maximization of human impact and flourishing. If science demonstrates that human activity is altering the natural world in some way—whether it’s affecting climate or the polar bear population or a coral reef, or whatever—then that very fact warrants stopping the human activity, regardless of the impact on human flourishing. That’s what it means to intersect science with the anti-humanist premise of non-impact as the moral ideal. Others have used science in equally destructive ways. The Marxian communists declared for ‘scientific’ socialism as their goal, and built a totalitarian death machine. The Nazis exploited the ‘science’ of eugenics to construct their racist, murderous fascist state. The ideological Environmentalists exploit science to deny humans the benefits of science, and reduce man’s life to a living hell status of harmony with unaltered nature. Science, then, becomes not a guide to reasoned, evaluative action, but a final authority not to be questioned, as determined by those who claim to speak for science. Science, in effect, is turned into a secular version of God.

In the end, it may backfire on the Environmentalist movement. As long as respect for science is alive and well in the culture, entrepreneurial individuals will seek to apply the science to the practical concerns of human beings, including to mitigate legitimate negative side effects of industrial progress—as long as humans are individually free to do so. It all comes down to freedom and individual rights. Bringing science into Earth Day may signal the death knell for anti-humanist environmentalism, because the science of ethics tells us that science should benefit, not harm, humans. Let those of us who value freedom and progress promote the true role of science as human benefactor, not a tool of human impoverishment and slavery. Let us promote the freedom that applied science requires.

Related Reading:

The Church Of Climate Scientology: How Climate Science Became A Religion—Alex Epstein