Before Us

Posted in Environment, Politics by Arasmus on September 17, 2008

For some reason I woke up this morning with a question on my mind; why have I become such an environmentalist in the last few years?  I have always leaned that way but of late I have graduated from thinking it desirable to feeling that protecting the environment and securing alternative energy is vital, necessary, urgent.  So far I have come up with 7 reasons:

  1. our technological ability has changed such that we no longer have to choose between a tree and staying warm, between clean air and economic growth -we can now have both
  2. September 11th and the failure of the Bush Administration and the entire political establishment to responsibly lead the United States and the world out of, as opposed to into, the minefield.  When George Bush was elected to a second term, I felt that the political process had now become moribund and that it was up to the people to lead themselves through entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at finding a new source of energy.
  3. a greater appreciation for the beauty and mortality of life; most likely I will be dead in 60-70 years and some day the tectonic plates beneath the earth will stop moving – everything on the planet will at that point die; scarcity produces value, in the market and the soul.
  4. the rise of China specifically (a) the voraciousness of its appetite (it could just as easily be any other developing country) for energy and raw materials and (b) the need to prevent future resource wars by discovering a more plentiful supply of energy as soon as possible.  Related to this idea is a greater appreciation of the herd mentality, captured rather efficiently in the phrase “more is different” – each individual can accept the need for environmental protection but as a crowd we behave like locusts (see Hillsborough disaster).  Conservation is a 2% solution – alternative energy must be found.
  5. a feeling of responsibility that, as the supposedly most intelligent species, we have a custodial duty for the earth; I don’t know where this comes from, a remnant of some religious foundation, an emotional reaction engendered in childhood, a delusion of one’s own self-importance?  I think this feeling may be related to my sense of justice which often makes me, and others, empathize with and seek to defend the underdog, the David versus the Goliath.  The animals and plants of this world live now at our whim – knowing us, that makes me wish to protect them.
  6. a belief in civilization; I am willing to commit myself to the goal of greater human civilization which for me means (a) the eradication of violence, (b) the pursuit of science, art and education, (c) a government of the people, for the people and by the people, (d) economic growth, dignity and security for all and (e) social, economic and environmental justice.  The discovery of renewable energy supports each of these goals by lowering the likelihood of future resource wars, encouraging human ingenuity and creativity, weakening the power of single-source energy producers on civil government and uncoupling economic, social and environmental growth from the price of oil and fossil fuels.

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