Skip to comments.Environmentalism as a Cover for Collectivism
Posted on 12/18/2005 7:00:07 PM PST by AZ_Cowboy
WASHINGTON In 1986, Gale Norton was 32 and working for the secretary of the interior on matters pertaining to the proposal to open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge area 1002 to drilling for oil and natural gas, a proposal that then had already been a bone of contention for several years. Today Norton is the secretary of the interior and is working on opening ANWR.
But this interminable argument actually could end soon with Congress authorizing drilling. That would be good for energy policy and excellent for the nation's governance.
Area 1002 is 1.5 million of ANWR's 19 million acres. In 1980, a Democratic-controlled Congress at the behest of President Carter set area 1002 aside for possible energy exploration. Since then, although there are active oil and gas wells in at least 36 U.S. wildlife refuges, stopping drilling in ANWR has become sacramental for environmentalists who speak about it the way Wordsworth wrote about the Lake Country.
Few opponents of energy development in what they call ``pristine'' ANWR have visited it. Those who have and think it is ``pristine'' must have visited during the 56 days a year when it is without sunlight. They missed the roads, stores, houses, military installations, airstrip and school. They did not miss seeing the trees in area 1002. There are no trees.
Opponents worry that the caribou will be disconsolate about, and their reproduction disrupted by, this intrusion by man. The same was said 30 years ago by opponents of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that brings heated oil south from Prudhoe Bay. Since the oil began flowing, the caribou have increased from 5,000 to 31,000. Perhaps the pipeline's heat makes them amorous.
Ice roads and helicopter pads, which will melt each spring, will minimize man's footprint, which will be on a 2,000-acre plot about one-fifth the size of Washington's Dulles Airport. Nevertheless, opponents say the environmental cost is too high for what the ineffable John Kerry calls ``a few drops of oil.'' Some drops. The estimated 10.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil such estimates frequently underestimate actual yields could supply all the oil needs of Kerry's Massachusetts for 75 years.
Flowing at 1 million barrels a day equal to 20 percent of today's domestic oil production ANWR oil would almost equal America's daily imports from Saudi Arabia. And it would equal the supply loss that Katrina temporarily caused, and that caused so much histrionic distress among consumers. Lee Raymond, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, says that if the major oil companies decided that 10 billion barrels were an amount too small to justify exploration and development projects, many current and future projects around the world would be abandoned.
But for many opponents of drilling in ANWR, the debate is only secondarily about energy and the environment. Rather, it is a disguised debate about elemental political matters.
For some people, environmentalism is collectivism in drag. Such people use environmental causes and rhetoric not to change the political climate for the purpose of environmental improvement. Rather, for them, changing the society's politics is the end, and environmental policies are mere means to that end.
The unending argument in political philosophy concerns constantly adjusting society's balance between freedom and equality. The primary goal of collectivism of socialism in Europe and contemporary liberalism in America is to enlarge governmental supervision of individuals' lives. This is done in the name of equality.
People are to be conscripted into one large cohort, everyone equal (although not equal in status or power to the governing class) in their status as wards of a self-aggrandizing government. Government says the constant enlargement of its supervising power is necessary for the equitable or efficient allocation of scarce resources.
Therefore, one of the collectivists' tactics is to produce scarcities, particularly of what makes modern society modern the energy requisite for social dynamism and individual autonomy. Hence collectivists use environmentalism to advance a collectivizing energy policy. Focusing on one energy source at a time, they stress the environmental hazards of finding, developing, transporting, manufacturing or using oil, natural gas, coal or nuclear power.
A quarter of a century of this tactic applied to ANWR is about 24 years too many. If geologists were to decide that there were only three thimbles of oil beneath area 1002, there would still be something to be said for going down to get them, just to prove that this nation cannot be forever paralyzed by people wielding environmentalism as a cover for collectivism.
Sometimes Will is a bit bothersome for me, but he hit this one out of the park. I'm surprised the search didn't turn it up.
Will was saying this in the early 80's and it bears repeating often.
Will is dead on.
The Nevada desert could be described as "pristine", too (it's ANWR without the snow), but I don't see the enviros agonizing over the bombing ranges and military installations there. Come to think of it, wasn't the area in the woods where an enviro built his house pristine at one time?
Follow the money. The Libs want ours, too.
Has anyone ever compared GreenPeace folks with ex-KGB operatives?
I understand that, during the 80s, the list of players was fairly the same. Anyone else read the same?
Sometimes I think journalism is a convenient psychological outlet for those who feel the need to state the obvious. The basic premise was common knowledge in some circles two decades ago.
Because of this column, George Will is my new hero. I only wish he had addressed the new enviro/socialist buzz word - sustainability. This is the umbrella which takes into account all of the Leftist objectives, including environment and redistribution of wealth. A search on the internet will reveal many disturbing things, especially coming out of Europe. Major European corporations, such as Shell and bp have bought into it.
Probably they are hoping to be part of the ruling elite in the New World Order. They may be disappointed, like the horse in Animal Farm. Only socialist tyrant pigs will eventually have power.
That's an excellent point -- and it's no mere accident, either. I'm convinced that the enviro-Marxist movement has focused on "global warming" and "no drilling in ANWR" as ideal issues for one simple reason: because they know damn well that 99.9% of the people in this country have never seen the parts of the world where the "environmental damage" caused by these things are supposed to be most evident. You can take just about any elected leader in Washington on a trip above the Arctic Circle in February when it's -60F outside and everything in view is frozen to high heaven, and convince him/her that he's witnessing some symptom of "global warming" -- as if it's been -62F outside instead of -60F every year up to the day George W. Bush was inaugurated.