I recently came across the ABC’s “planetslayer” website, a tax payer funded educational tool for children, and found it quite typical of environmentalist material. See, http://www.abc.net.au/science/planetslayer/greenhouse_calc.htm It has prompted me to attempt to think through my ideological concerns about environmentalism.
I have memories of being exposed to a great deal of conservation and environmental material at school, spending a disproportionately large amount of time doing projects and posters on global warming, endangered species, soil salinity and erosion etc. I imagine the school kids of today are getting it worse.
At “planetslayer” you can calculate “how much of a greenhouse pig” you are. It seems we’re all pigs, including the kids. By referring to its audience as “pigs” for creating CO2, we are of course assuming that CO2 production is a bad thing. The main ideological reason this concerns me is because IMO, mankind’s greatest achievements should be celebrated and looked up to, even the ones that produce CO2 as a by-product. Inventions such as the internal combustion engine, plastic materials, large scale electricity production, reliable transport, etc are incredibly valuable to mankind and have resulted in massive increases in human life expectancy and comfort, even if they do actually mean a slight rise in global temperature.
But not only are you told that you are a pig by using some of mankind’s greatest achievements, you also get to “find out when you should die” – How fun! My greenhouse calculation resulted in my pig exploding and I was told that I should rightfully have been dead by age 5.1. The implication here is that once you produce X amount of CO2 you’d be doing the world a favour if you just f–ked off and died. Ideologically, this is nihilism.
So my primary objection to typical environmentalist thinking as illustrated by the pig and death calculator, is the de-valuing of humanity and human life while simultaneously raising “mother nature” (and by “nature” environmentalists mean, anything except humans) to a higher power status.
In addition, since when do we all have a calculated fair share of resources anyway? Based on my experience of environmentalism, I am highly suspicious of these type of statements. Obviously we don’t and shouldn’t live in a world of equal resource distribution.
Almost all humans value nature and don’t want to see flora and fauna destroyed. Certain conditions on earth are essential for our survival eg/ a significant level of O2 in the atmosphere – something that hasn’t always existed on earth. In addition, the general public are not good at critical evaluation of facts, and readily believe media and authority warnings of environmental doom and gloom. So it’s easy to see why most people in our society are keen to do their bit for the environment. But do people understand the real costs and implications of un-checked environmentalism? I don’t think they do.
Firstly, are people even aware of the very basic fact that altercations to the environment are inevitable? All life forms including humans must alter their environment for their very survival. Action is necessary for survival and to act is to act on something. Humans have been altering the environment on a large scale ever since man first learnt to light fires and the expansive grasslands of Africa were created. It would be impossible for humans not to alter the environment in some way or other, unless mankind was eradicated. Therefore, a problematic logical conclusion arises if environmentalists fall into the trap of thinking that any human altercation to the environment is by definition a bad thing. Anyone who holds this view must then realise that they are implying that humanity itself is a bad thing and that they themselves are inescapably, immoral.
Secondly, I think we should be able to agree that increasing human survival rates and human happiness is a positive outcome, while decreasing these factors is bad.
In addition, we know that nature doesn’t exist as a magical ecosystem in some perfect equilibrium state. We know that ecosystems, climate, flora, fauna, continent size, atmospheric composition etc undergo massive changes without human interactions. We know of the mass extinctions that have occurred on this planet before the arrival of humanity.
So it stands to reason that the public should then be wary of mandatory government environmentalist proposals, especially if they involve negative outcomes on human freedom, population, happiness and comfort for the sake of a murkily defined concept of “nature”. Knowing that altering the environment is inevitable, both by us and by mother nature, and knowing that technological advancement has dramatically increased human life expectancy, any claims of devastating planet “slaying” environmental altercations should be weighed up and assessed rationally – before we even think about force based government restrictions and controls.
This website, as an educational tool aimed at children, demonstrates how environmentalism has well and truly infused its way into our culture. And in today’s world where politics and government action have virtually no limits, we are seeing environmentalism becoming more about gun-backed politics and populism, at the expense of facts and reason.
I’ll finish with some further observations based on the planetslayers website game. See http://www.abc.net.au/science/planetslayer/planetslayer.htm According to the website game, the following will cause death to our planet: Salt (forget the 2 billion people in the world with iodine deficiency), nuclear power (but this doesn’t produce CO2!), logging (a sustainable and highly valuable activity) and shopping (essential to human life as we know it). So too will sneakers for some reason. (see game).
If you choose to play as a slayer, not a saver, you’ll get treated to pictures of bloody dead animals and toxic waste between levels to get the environmentalist message home.
Notice that the “planet saver” character, Greena, is a dirty hippie wearing ragged clothes and having nasty orange hair. While the “planet slayer”, X-on is a well dressed, blonde girl who likes to shop – evil bitch! This obvious dig at materialism is a typical view of ideologies such as socialism. The implication is that it is immoral to pursue your own enjoyment and your life.
My taxpayer dollars are helping to teach kids to forget individualism, and embrace the “greater good” via environmentalism, and there’s a high dose of fear and guilt to drive the message home. My concern is that the public has not thought through the consequences of political actions based on nihilistic and socialist ideological elements.