“I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” – Ronald Reagan
Earlier this week, gun-toting James Lee burst into the Discovery Channel building in Silver Spring, MD, taking several hostages. Lee’s gripe appears to have been that humanity was destroying the planet, particularly “parasitic human babies” and that the Discovery Channel’s programming had somehow been complicit in this. I suppose they weren’t radical enough in their presentation of “global warming” information for his tastes.
Lee apparently claims to have been “awakened” by Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth (a pseudo-science spectacular which also discusses how humans are destroying the planet). After the “climate-gate” scandal, which cast serious doubt on the notion that there was any scientific basis for man-made global warming theories, Al Gore did NOT need this kind of press.
I’d like to offer several observations.
First, I don’t think this is Al Gore’s fault. We cannot lay the actions of ever global alarmist who goes crazy at the feet of Al Gore. I doubt we even need to ask him to denounce the actions. Basic human decency would suggest that we can assume Al Gore opposes such actions. It would be nice to hear him denounce eco-terrorism in general, just as it would be nice to hear moderate muslims denounce jihadi terrorism. But, we can’t allow the actions of one person to cast a pall over the whole philosophy.
Second, there is a rather disturbing theme amongst the extreme environmentalists. James Lee feels that mankind is evil … of course, it doesn’t quite sound right if you frame it as “we’d all be better off without humans.” Perhaps he didn’t really mean all humans, just those humans.
I had a conversation with a progressive but not-so-environmentalist friend of mine a few years back. The topic of discussion at the time was potential pandemics threatening humanity. He mentioned the Ebola virus, where certain strains have up to a 90% mortality rate (not strains that have hit humans yet – apparently). I found the notion horrifying, but he indicated that he thought it would be a good thing – that there were too many people already, that they were stressing the world’s capacity to sustain life, and that clearing a few billion out would help.
Of course I disagree with the notion. As I’ve said before, natural limits have a way of enforcing themselves. This notion amongst the “population bomb” set that we will somehow stress the productive capacity of the planet and then watch in horror as it “collapses” seems a bit silly. If we do stress the productive capacity, then it will form a rather natural, graceful degradation barrier to population growth. (And perhaps it already has.)
But this really isn’t my point. Rather, my point is that these “humans-are-bad-we-need-to-get-rid-of-billions-of-them-by-any-means-possible” types always mean other people. I doubt they seriously ever consider themselves to be part of the problem. I doubt they ever think joyfully of a horrid disease wiping out 90% of their family. No, they are the good ones. They’re “not like the rest of them.” Mother Earth should be pleased to have these environmentally saavy folks around, and will doubtless offer them protection when the collapse comes. Right?
(As an aside, the sentiment points to the corruption of the environmentalist movement by communism. When the Soviets finally collapsed, the ardent young American revolutionaries were without a home. Many of them moved on to environmentalism for some reason. Mainstream environmentalists of the day responded with a bit of confusion when college-aged kids started showing up to their meetings in combat fatigues wearing the likeness of Che Guevera. It was Lenin himself who declared that it was OK for ¾ of the world population to die as long as the remaining ¼ were communist. No difference here. The radical environmentalists would gladly accept ¾ of the world population dying as long as the remaining ¼ were good environmentalists.)
My third point is a bit broader in its application, and it deals with the confused prioritization of so many people and groups in our society. I’ll call it the “frozen in time perfection” ideal. There is this thought that at some point in the past, or perhaps right now, we reached a societal appex, and that we should have frozen things then for the betterment of everybody.
With the environmentalists, it appears to have been some time in the 1900s or even 1800s. The population was “sustainable,” we didn’t need all of these chemical fertilizers, there were no combustion engines to destroy the atmosphere. Life was good. There is some nostalgia for the days of agrarian society, mules pulling plows, the whole bit.
We see it in religious circles as well. There are dress code Christians of various ilks that have decided that normative dress of the 1700s or 1800s or 1950s was the appropriate, holy attire. As clothing styles changed they chalked it up to a sliding away from God. We’ve all heard tell of certain Christian groups who won’t allow women to wear pants. Why? Well, pants are for men. Hmmm. In the 1950s pants were for men, but now they have … wait for it … women’s pants. “Ahh” they say “this is apostacy”. Really? I wonder if men wore pants in Jesus’ day. (Here’s a hint – they didn’t. They wore robes.) How then is it that 1950s fashions were the model of righteousness? Because, they froze perfection at some point in time, and the rest has been degradation.
Or how about the “sustainable growth” group? I know a few folks who have houses in remote locations (mostly the mountains of North Carolina). Invariably they will complain about all of the ongoing construction – the new houses are ruining their pristine wilderness abode. Indeed. I suppose it’s all well and good for those fortunate enough to be born before 1970 who can buy a house in the country before the developers got going. What about the rest of us? We want houses out there in that nice neighborhood too. We want to live in the suburbs too. We want to go where they have nice school districts too. I guess it’s all those dern people ruining the world for you.
Then there’s the anti-immigration group. Sure, they make some reasonable points about following the law and the importation of violence. But there is a significant swath of the movement that really just wants to maintain the status quo of cultural (racial) makeup. As though some time in the past (say 1980) we hit the appropriate distribution of people groups. I suspect that Native Americans will argue that we hit the appropriate distribution well over 400 years ago and have trended downhill since then. This is not to say that there aren’t good points to discuss regarding the nature of the immigration process, but I don’t see any moral argument for freezing the status quo.
The lot of these groups point to a single thread – we have raised man above God. When I place what I like or want or desire, whether it is industrial (as with the environmentalists), religious (with the fundamentalists), social (with the immigration opponents), or structural (with the sustainable growth crowd), in the stead of what God desires, then I have run afoul of sound doctrine. God said be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth (Gen 1:28). God said to take care for the sojourner (immigrant) (Malachi 3:5). God said that He looks on the inward man (1 Sam 16:7). God said to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18).
As for this young man, James Lee, it is a sorry tale. His life has been destroyed in the name of some odd religious environmentalism that he concocted in his head. I personally believe that the planet is far more capable than we give it credit. I believe that God created the earth and it is magnificent. I believe it can support even more people than we have today, and I believe that if people were free to operate in the world that we would see ever greater productive capabilities. And these alarmists could calm their fears.