Wednesday, May 4, 2016

More 2016 Earth Day Musings

On Earth Day 2016, two letters appeared in the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Neither letter was published online. The Star-Ledger rarely posts letters anymore. Fortunately, the letters are available digitally here so you can read them in their entirety. Meanwhile, here are excerpts followed by my observations:

Addressing climate change on Earth Day

I would truly love to celebrate Earth Day today and express my gratitude for the sustenance and beauty the Earth gives us. But my thoughts quickly drift to the great damage we are doing to the Earth and its ability to support life.—Tony Giordano, Howell

Celebrate “Life Day”

We have polluted water, land and the air that we breathe. . . . In the Bible, God banished Adam and Eve from paradise because they ate the forbidden fruit. Did we not do what Adam and Eve did? Are we on the verge of losing this paradise?—Walter Sosnosky, Kenilworth

The Earth isn’t life-sustaining. Nor does it have “ability to support life.” Not Human life. We didn’t inherit a “paradise.” The Earth is a hostile, unsafe, danger-filled environment. The rational mind capable of reason is nature’s only gift to man. Reason’s fruits—intelligence, ability, and ingenuity—liberated by individual freedom, is what sustains our lives. The Earth doesn’t give us a Garden of Eden. It is up to us to use our natural tools of survival to turn the natural environment into a humanized place conducive to safer, flourishing human life.

But our tool of survival, productive work—reason guided physical labor—does no function automatically. Someone must choose to use it. It’s not to this huge ball of untouched raw materials we inhabit that we owe our gratitude. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people of ability—any one of us who chooses to do an honest days work, but primarily the industrious leaders from discoverers to scientists to inventors to professional businessmen—who transformed Earth’s natural environment into our advanced industrial technological humanized environment. And no industry deserved higher gratitude than the industry of industries—the fossil fuel industry that provides us with the lion’s share of the reliable, affordable energy that powers every aspect of our lives. Thanks to fossil fuels, life for humans has never been safer, healthier, cleaner, more prosperous—and the Earth never more livable—than it is today.

Pollution side effects, which are steadily being diminished by advancing technology, pale in comparison to the benefits. Fossil fuels should no more be eliminated because of pollution than antibiotics should be eliminated because they cause undesirable side effects. The slight, harmless warming of the fossil fuel era, to the extend industrial activity contributes to it, is nothing compared to beneficial industrial progress. Sea level rise, which has been going on for 20,000 years, is manageable thanks to plentiful energy and industrialization, even if human-caused warming is slightly accelerating the current gradual rise.

Tony Giordano’s and Walter Sosnosky’s letters show that Earth Day is driven by regressive primitive superstitions, not compassionate enlightenment; by a moral standard that exalts untouchable nature, not a moral standard that exalts human life. Industrial progress did not do “great damage” to the Earth. Our clean running water, safe shelters, modern transportation, communication, and medicine, and comforts like washing machines, dishwashers, central heating and air conditioning, and electric lighting, and all the rest, are not “reckless deeds.” Man did not ruin the Earth, We made it a great place to live. What Giordano and Sosnovski condemn is precisely the vital, progressive environment-transforming work that human life and flourishing depend on.

We must realize explicitly that nature doesn’t give us a life-sustaining environment. Nature gives us only the raw materials, like oil, coal, and gas, which humans must exploit in order to humanize the environment. We should reject the Witch Doctors’ anti-human “Earth Day” and replace it with the pro-human “Industrial Improvement of the Earth Day.”

Related Reading:

The planet has never been a safer place for humans to live—Alex Epstein for MarketWatch

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