Earth Day is here again. I’m sure we can expect the same old green blarney that sets your teeth on edge. Yet, it would be a shame if we let tired propaganda distract us from some essential truths. We share a passion for America. Conservation is a natural for conservatives. Preserving the beauty of our land is a duty for those of us who love liberty. Passing our country and our planet down to our children, as good or better than we found it is hardwired into our bones. How did we let this sacred obligation be co-opted? How did we let the big government crowd make our environment their ruse de guerre?
Head outside (as we expect you already plan to do). Take to our mountains, forests, rivers, streams and lakes. Set sail on our oceans. You’ll find more than your fair share of people who share your values, reveling with their families in America’s beauty.
In recent years Americans and their allies in the free, developed world have enjoyed significant environmental progress. Our lands are cleaner and greener than they were not long ago. Government deserves part of the credit for our cleaner circumstances for addressing the economic problems of “externality” (transferring production burdens such as pollution to society as a whole) and “the tragedy of the commons” (depleting shared resources). Still more credit is due to the prosperity created through our free market system. Reliable power grids and energy supplies eliminated the need for large-scale dependence on firewood leading to verdant swaths of mature trees all around, populating areas that not long ago were completely bare. The incredible bounty derived from modern agriculture ensures enough food for all, requires less acreage, returns large areas to a wild state and makes hunting a matter of sport, rather than subsistence, permitting a tremendous rebound of wild species.
American conservation and environmentalism gave birth to our state and national parks and gave us the tools to clean up our rivers, air and rein in the litter that once lay all about us. We have much to celebrate.
Sadly, many once constructive environmental organizations later succumbed to radicalism. Joined by newcomers that were founded with radical expansion of government control over our economy and lives as their aim, they lost the guiding recognition that mankind is part of nature too. Robert Heinlein observed that, “in declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers’ purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own race — i.e., his own self-hatred.”
Today many environmental campaign organizations represent a dire threat to the basic freedoms and liberties that the United States was founded to secure. Ironically, they now pose an equally dire threat to the natural environments and human well-being the protection of which should be their aim. Their blinkered opposition to free market capitalism threatens to choke off the source of the prosperity that permits us to effectively steward our environment. They thwart us from developing our domestic energy resources and leave us dependent on foreign nations that bear us no affection. They dogmatically block the use of nuclear power despite its excellent safety record, low cost and inherently clean impact. They advocate feel-good projects such as erecting giant wind turbines in unspoiled areas in a vain attempt to reign in CO2 emissions that were never a pollutant to begin with. That the wind turbines produce subsidies for their developers, but no meaningful power for our communities is a fact they choose not to grasp.
For nearly twenty-five years CFACT has debunked the false claims made in the name of our environment and exposed the hidden agendas behind them. We have been a patient and consistent advocate for real conservation and genuine stewardship of the earth. We have taken the side of developing peoples against those who would trap them in poverty.
This Earth Day we call on all people of good sense to retake our environment. We urge you to join us as guardians of the freedom, dignity and prosperity of all people. The future of humanity and the natural environment of which we are part, depend on it.
David Rothbard serves as President of CFACT and Craig Rucker as Executive Director of CFACT.