Conservationism versus environmentalism

We like the idea of being “green” or “environmentalist,” but really what we’re doing is applying a band-aid. If we want to nurture our planet, we need to build ecological awareness into our process of survival.

The ecological movement in the United States and Europe survived an interesting career. As interest peaked in the 1960s toward undoing all that was old, it gained momentum, then reached peak articulation in the 1970s and died under its own weight.

Budding ecologists found themselves facing a problem: once they’d informed themselves on the issue, they were forced into a horrible division. The problems of our environment derive from human expansion; otherwise, those problems wouldn’t be there. The natural correction is to slow and then reverse human expansion. But as every politician knows, saying NO to people is a career killer. Thus the environmental movement stalled in the 1970s.

The other problem of course is that it’s easy to procrastinate. If the bad results of a stupid idea happen in fifty years, maybe, but definitely not in ten, it’s going to get thrown on the back burner. Even if having a functional environment is more important than our careers, cars, and the kid that wets the bed, that distance consequence is too close in psychic symbolism to our own deaths, so we defer acting on it. Some day.

Luckily, in the 2000s the green revolution picked up too much steam again, but it got botched. They handed it to the party of YES — more freedom, more entitlements, more protection for the politically equal yet non-contributing — instead of finding a party that could say NO. As a result, we got “environmentalism.”

Environmentalism is a band-aid. Like US strategy in the Viet Nam war, the idea is that we can sit in our massive fire bases, spot problems and send people to fix them. Get it? Problem fixed. Then we’re all OK and can keep goofing along like we always do.

Of course, this strategy doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in American policing, where cars are sent in response to calls and arrive long after it’s too late. It didn’t work in Viet Nam, where an inability to hold terrain meant that the enemy rented it cheap for 99% of the time and then we bought it back at full price. It’s a huge failure in environmentalism, too, where we think we can apply little patches and fixes and thus just keep doing what we were always doing.

As in Viet Nam, we’re not trying to “get rid of problems.” We’re trying to hold ground, and that terrain is a healthy environment. You don’t hold ground by sending out helicopters full of gunmen. You hold ground by occupying it and taking care of it.

Our modern green/environmentalist movement has us buying green light bulbs that are toxic, buying green clothes and products, buying carbon caps, buying air filters — doesn’t anyone else see the problem? It’s a tacked-on addition to our usual method of doing things. We haven’t changed a bit. We’ve thrown in a token bone to that nature thing, and merrily go on our way. This is why the party of YES will never make good protectors of our environment, but they make good meaty headline-grabbing “environmentalists.”

A more sensible strategy:

The trouble is that everything in nature is completely interdependent. Tinker with one part of it and the repercussions ripple out in all directions…Wildlife – and that includes everything from microbes to blue whales and from a fungus to a redwood tree – has been so much part of life on the earth that we are inclined to take its continued existence for granted…Yet the wildlife of the world is disappearing, not because of a malicious and deliberate policy of slaughter and extermination, but simply because of a general and widespread ignorance and neglect.

The industrial followed by the scientific revolution, combined with a world population explosion, have produced one of the most serious situations that the world has experienced since the flood. The sheer weight of numbers of the human population, our habitations, our machinery and our ruthless exploitation of the living and organic resources of the earth; together these are changing our whole environment. This is what we call progress and much of this development is naturally to the direct and welcome benefit of mankind. However, we cannot at the same time ignore the awkward consequences and the most direct and menacing, but not the only consequence of this change, is pollution.

In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.


For conservation to be successful it is necessary to take into consideration that it is a characteristic of man that he can only be relied upon to do anything consistently which is in his own interest. (Liberals are already freaking out. For people who talk about how sad it is that war is part of human nature, they don’t understand the underlying nature — that all animals act only in self-interest.)

The paradox of course is that most people can think two weeks, two months, two years into the future — not two decades, or two hundred years. So they’re not going to choose to do anything about a problem that’s out of their sight. However, just as we should always remember that we’re mortal, and so make our time valuable, we should also remember that distant problems give us an insight into eventual rewards.

It follows, then, that any environmental policy must fit within our normal self-interest. Even if it says NO, it cannot do that in a vacuum; we must plan to replace what we’re removing and to provide alternate sources of income to replace those lost. Environmentalism falls apart because it has separated from its real plan, and instead is offering us band-aids and “raising awareness,” which is liberalspeak for make-work activity that wishes rather than expects the population to “wake up, sheeple” and do something about it.

The conservative option to environmentalism is conservationism. Instead of trying to patch every little thing we do, we make one big change that involves a NO: we set aside as much land as possible to remain in its natural state, and forget about it. We don’t manage it. We don’t sell it. We don’t let the masses tromp around it (that’s what National Parks are for). We just let it do its thing.

This naturally limits population, since less land is available. It naturally restricts pollution, since in addition to less space, there’s a huge carbon sink absorbing and filtering it. It allows natural species to thrive and gives endangered species homes.

If humanity was forward thinking at all, we’d make conservation of at 35% of every ecosystem including the ocean our top priority at the UN and all those do-good make-work climate conferences. But no one wants to say NO to anyone, so instead we get the band-aids.


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