Skip to comments.'Creation Care' Concerns Increase Among Evangelicals
Posted on 09/08/2006 6:37:24 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
Tending to your soul at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Boise, Idaho, involves recycling old cell phones and printer cartridges in the church lobby, pulling noxious weeds in the backcountry and fixing worn-out hiking trails in the mountains. This is part of the ministry of Tri Robinson, a former biology teacher whose rereading of the Bible led him to the belief that Christians focused on Scripture need to combat global warming and save the Earth.
"All of a sudden Boise Vineyard is one of the most important driving forces in our community for the environment," Robinson said. "People say, 'Why are you doing that?' Because God wants it."
Many evangelicals have dismissed environmentalists as liberals unconcerned about the economic impact of their policies to fight global warming. Long-standing distrust between the two camps over issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage has discouraged evangelicals from joining liberals on the environment.
But shared concerns over global warming and protecting the Earth are bringing together the two groups in ways that could make the Republican Party more eco-friendly and lead some evangelicals to vote Democratic.
In signs of change, Robinson had a Sierra Club representative at his environmental conference recently, and the Sierra Club invited Calvin DeWitt, a University of Wisconsin biology professor and a founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network, to its summit last year where it declared global warming the top issue for the coming decade.
"More and more evangelicals are coming to believe creation care is an integral part of their calling as Christians. It is becoming part of their faith," said Melanie Griffin, director of partnerships for the Sierra Club and an evangelical.
Dewitt said evangelicals will not call themselves environmentalists.
"They are going to call themselves pro-life," he said. "But pro-life means life in the Arctic, the life of the atmosphere, the life of all the people under the influence of climate change."
The last time the environment was a major political issue was the 1970s, when rivers were catching fire, acid rain was killing lakes and Earth Day was created. President Nixon, a Republican, signed landmark legislation to combat air and water pollution, protect endangered species and create the Environmental Protection Agency.
Since then, League of Conservation Voters scorecards show Democrats getting greener and Republicans browner. President Bush earned the organization's first "F" for a president.
Hoping to sway Bush, 86 evangelical pastors, college presidents and theologians signed a letter in February calling on Christians and the government to combat global warming.
One of the signers was Bert Waggoner, national director of The Vineyard USA, a network of more than 600 churches with 200,000 members.
"If you believe, as I do, that the ultimate end is not the destruction of the Earth but the healing of the Earth, you will be inclined toward wanting to work with God to see it restored," he said.
Much of the old guard remains unmoved.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, adopted a resolution in June denouncing environmental activism and warning that it was "threatening to become a wedge issue to divide the evangelical community."
Focus on the Family leader James Dobson admonished evangelicals to remain focused on stopping abortion and gay marriage.
The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, which includes Christian leaders with close ties to the Bush administration, argues that if humans are responsible for global warming, the costs of preventing it outweigh the harm it causes, said spokesman Calvin Beisner.
"This is not a split," DeWitt said. "It is a transformation. What you find in the evangelical world in contrast to mainline denominations is that they are very suspect of authority."
A Pew Research Center for the People survey this year found that 66 percent of white evangelicals said there was solid evidence the Earth was getting warmer, with 32 percent blaming human activity, 22 percent natural patterns and the rest undecided.
John Green, professor of political science at the University of Akron and a senior fellow of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, sees evangelicals, particularly the young and educated, increasingly interested in issues that could take some of them out of the Republican Party.
"Climate change is not only a part of this but perhaps the most public part," Green said.
Robinson said he voted for Bush in 2004 because of his opposition to abortion, but it was a tough decision, making him feel he was voting against the environment.
"If the conservatives want the Christian vote, they are going to have to address this," he said.
The pastor feels like Noah cutting his first tree to build the Ark.
"God blesses small beginnings," he said. "That's why we're trying to get people to recycle do the little things. I believe God will meet us."
Environmentalism as Religion
Remarks to the Commonwealth Club
By Michael Crichton
September 15, 2003
I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.
We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we're told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.
As an example of this challenge, I want to talk today about environmentalism. And in order not to be misunderstood, I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment. I believe it is important to act in ways that are sympathetic to the environment, and I believe this will always be a need, carrying into the future. I believe the world has genuine problems and I believe it can and should be improved. But I also think that deciding what constitutes responsible action is immensely difficult, and the consequences of our actions are often difficult to know in advance. I think our past record of environmental action is discouraging, to put it mildly, because even our best intended efforts often go awry. But I think we do not recognize our past failures, and face them squarely. And I think I know why.
I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can't be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people---the best people, the most enlightened people---do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.
And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.
Am I exaggerating to make a point? I am afraid not. Because we know a lot more about the world than we did forty or fifty years ago. And what we know now is not so supportive of certain core environmental myths, yet the myths do not die. Let's examine some of those beliefs.
There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?
And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did. On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process. And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.
How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself. The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.
There was even an academic movement, during the latter 20th century, that claimed that cannibalism was a white man's invention to demonize the indigenous peoples. (Only academics could fight such a battle.) It was some thirty years before professors finally agreed that yes, cannibalism does inbdeed occur among human beings. Meanwhile, all during this time New Guinea highlanders in the 20th century continued to eat the brains of their enemies until they were finally made to understand that they risked kuru, a fatal neurological disease, when they did so.
More recently still the gentle Tasaday of the Philippines turned out to be a publicity stunt, a nonexistent tribe. And African pygmies have one of the highest murder rates on the planet.
In short, the romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only held by people who have no actual experience of nature. People who live in nature are not romantic about it at all. They may hold spiritual beliefs about the world around them, they may have a sense of the unity of nature or the aliveness of all things, but they still kill the animals and uproot the plants in order to eat, to live. If they don't, they will die.
And if you, even now, put yourself in nature even for a matter of days, you will quickly be disabused of all your romantic fantasies. Take a trek through the jungles of Borneo, and in short order you will have festering sores on your skin, you'll have bugs all over your body, biting in your hair, crawling up your nose and into your ears, you'll have infections and sickness and if you're not with somebody who knows what they're doing, you'll quickly starve to death. But chances are that even in the jungles of Borneo you won't experience nature so directly, because you will have covered your entire body with DEET and you will be doing everything you can to keep those bugs off you.
The truth is, almost nobody wants to experience real nature. What people want is to spend a week or two in a cabin in the woods, with screens on the windows. They want a simplified life for a while, without all their stuff. Or a nice river rafting trip for a few days, with somebody else doing the cooking. Nobody wants to go back to nature in any real way, and nobody does. It's all talk-and as the years go on, and the world population grows increasingly urban, it's uninformed talk. Farmers know what they're talking about. City people don't. It's all fantasy.
One way to measure the prevalence of fantasy is to note the number of people who die because they haven't the least knowledge of how nature really is. They stand beside wild animals, like buffalo, for a picture and get trampled to death; they climb a mountain in dicey weather without proper gear, and freeze to death. They drown in the surf on holiday because they can't conceive the real power of what we blithely call "the force of nature." They have seen the ocean. But they haven't been in it.
The television generation expects nature to act the way they want it to be. They think all life experiences can be tivo-ed. The notion that the natural world obeys its own rules and doesn't give a damn about your expectations comes as a massive shock. Well-to-do, educated people in an urban environment experience the ability to fashion their daily lives as they wish. They buy clothes that suit their taste, and decorate their apartments as they wish. Within limits, they can contrive a daily urban world that pleases them.
But the natural world is not so malleable. On the contrary, it will demand that you adapt to it-and if you don't, you die. It is a harsh, powerful, and unforgiving world, that most urban westerners have never experienced.
Many years ago I was trekking in the Karakorum mountains of northern Pakistan, when my group came to a river that we had to cross. It was a glacial river, freezing cold, and it was running very fast, but it wasn't deep---maybe three feet at most. My guide set out ropes for people to hold as they crossed the river, and everybody proceeded, one at a time, with extreme care. I asked the guide what was the big deal about crossing a three-foot river. He said, well, supposing you fell and suffered a compound fracture. We were now four days trek from the last big town, where there was a radio. Even if the guide went back double time to get help, it'd still be at least three days before he could return with a helicopter. If a helicopter were available at all. And in three days, I'd probably be dead from my injuries. So that was why everybody was crossing carefully. Because out in nature a little slip could be deadly.
But let's return to religion. If Eden is a fantasy that never existed, and mankind wasn't ever noble and kind and loving, if we didn't fall from grace, then what about the rest of the religious tenets? What about salvation, sustainability, and judgment day? What about the coming environmental doom from fossil fuels and global warming, if we all don't get down on our knees and conserve every day?
Well, it's interesting. You may have noticed that something has been left off the doomsday list, lately. Although the preachers of environmentalism have been yelling about population for fifty years, over the last decade world population seems to be taking an unexpected turn. Fertility rates are falling almost everywhere. As a result, over the course of my lifetime the thoughtful predictions for total world population have gone from a high of 20 billion, to 15 billion, to 11 billion (which was the UN estimate around 1990) to now 9 billion, and soon, perhaps less. There are some who think that world population will peak in 2050 and then start to decline. There are some who predict we will have fewer people in 2100 than we do today. Is this a reason to rejoice, to say halleluiah? Certainly not. Without a pause, we now hear about the coming crisis of world economy from a shrinking population. We hear about the impending crisis of an aging population. Nobody anywhere will say that the core fears expressed for most of my life have turned out not to be true. As we have moved into the future, these doomsday visions vanished, like a mirage in the desert. They were never there---though they still appear, in the future. As mirages do.
Okay, so, the preachers made a mistake. They got one prediction wrong; they're human. So what. Unfortunately, it's not just one prediction. It's a whole slew of them. We are running out of oil. We are running out of all natural resources. Paul Ehrlich: 60 million Americans will die of starvation in the 1980s. Forty thousand species become extinct every year. Half of all species on the planet will be extinct by 2000. And on and on and on.
With so many past failures, you might think that environmental predictions would become more cautious. But not if it's a religion. Remember, the nut on the sidewalk carrying the placard that predicts the end of the world doesn't quit when the world doesn't end on the day he expects. He just changes his placard, sets a new doomsday date, and goes back to walking the streets. One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, because they have nothing to do with facts.
So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven't read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don't report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn't carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die and didn't give a damn.
I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong.
I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigeous science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won't impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependant on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief.
Most of us have had some experience interacting with religious fundamentalists, and we understand that one of the problems with fundamentalists is that they have no perspective on themselves. They never recognize that their way of thinking is just one of many other possible ways of thinking, which may be equally useful or good. On the contrary, they believe their way is the right way, everyone else is wrong; they are in the business of salvation, and they want to help you to see things the right way. They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view. In our modern complex world, fundamentalism is dangerous because of its rigidity and its imperviousness to other ideas.
I want to argue that it is now time for us to make a major shift in our thinking about the environment, similar to the shift that occurred around the first Earth Day in 1970, when this awareness was first heightened. But this time around, we need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.
There are two reasons why I think we all need to get rid of the religion of environmentalism.
First, we need an environmental movement, and such a movement is not very effective if it is conducted as a religion. We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s. It's not a good record. Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical. To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth---that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric. The effort to promote effective legislation for the environment is not helped by thinking that the Democrats will save us and the Republicans won't. Political history is more complicated than that. Never forget which president started the EPA: Richard Nixon. And never forget which president sold federal oil leases, allowing oil drilling in Santa Barbara: Lyndon Johnson. So get politics out of your thinking about the environment.
The second reason to abandon environmental religion is more pressing. Religions think they know it all, but the unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge. Our record in the past, for example managing national parks, is humiliating. Our fifty-year effort at forest-fire suppression is a well-intentioned disaster from which our forests will never recover. We need to be humble, deeply humble, in the face of what we are trying to accomplish. We need to be trying various methods of accomplishing things. We need to be open-minded about assessing results of our efforts, and we need to be flexible about balancing needs. Religions are good at none of these things.
How will we manage to get environmentalism out of the clutches of religion, and back to a scientific discipline? There's a simple answer: we must institute far more stringent requirements for what constitutes knowledge in the environmental realm. I am thoroughly sick of politicized so-called facts that simply aren't true. It isn't that these "facts" are exaggerations of an underlying truth. Nor is it that certain organizations are spinning their case to present it in the strongest way. Not at all---what more and more groups are doing is putting out is lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false.
This trend began with the DDT campaign, and it persists to this day. At this moment, the EPA is hopelessly politicized. In the wake of Carol Browner, it is probably better to shut it down and start over. What we need is a new organization much closer to the FDA. We need an organization that will be ruthless about acquiring verifiable results, that will fund identical research projects to more than one group, and that will make everybody in this field get honest fast.
Because in the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don't know any better. That's not a good future for the human race. That's our past. So it's time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.
Thank you very much.
Individuals, Liberty and the Environment The American Conservation Ethic
The American Conservation Ethic is grounded in experience, science, wisdom and the enduring values of a free people. It affirms that people are the most important natural resource and that we must be good stewards of the world around us for this and future generations. It is founded upon a deep respect for the wonder, beauty and complexity of creation and is dedicated to the wise use of nature's bounty. It reflects every American's aspiration to make our environment cleaner, healthier and safer for our future, and it draws its strength from the most powerful force for improving our environment free people.
The American Conservation Ethic works because, like the American people, it is practical. It applies the tried and true principles of individual rights and responsibilities to the conservation of our natural resources. Property rights create incentives that both reward good stewardship and empower individuals to protect their property from the harmful acts of others. The guarantee that we shall reap the fruits of our labor inspires the investment of time, money and effort necessary to expand upon centuries of accumulated arts and sciences. As we learn more, we are better able to be good stewards of natural resources.
The American Conservation Ethic relies upon science as a tool to guide public policy. Science is an invaluable tool for rationally weighing risks to human health and measuring other environmental impacts. Foremost among our measures of environmental quality are human health and well-being. Science also provides a means of assessing the costs and benefits of actions designed to reduce, control and remediate pollution or other environmental impacts. Central to the American Conservation Ethic is the understanding that scientific development, technological innovation and economic growth are essential for a cleaner, healthier and safer environment. As we increase our knowledge, we improve our productivity, efficiency and potential to innovate and these achievements conserve energy, raw materials and other valuable resources. As we learn more about the natural world we discover how to get more than ever before from the resources we use. Progress provides the know-how, time and financial resources needed to fulfill our aspirations to improve the health, beauty and productivity of America.
The American Conservation Ethic is established on the fact that renewable natural resources are not fragile and static but resilient and dynamic. Such resources are continually regenerated through growth, reproduction or other naturally occurring processes which cleanse, cycle or otherwise create resources anew. Because these resources are continually renewed they can be used in a wise and responsible manner without the fear that they will be lost forever. Through progress we come to better understand renewable natural resources and the relationships among them. The knowledge gained improves our ability to wisely use and conserve these treasures for the benefit of current and future generations.
The American Conservation Ethic promotes workable means to reach our environmental goals, rather than depending on an inefficient centralized environmental bureaucracy. By relying on the first-hand knowledge and practical experience of local people and accounting for widely varying conditions, a site and situation specific approach provides practical solutions to the environmental challenges we face. The greater the degree to which solutions to environmental problems reflect the knowledge, needs and desires of those individuals most affected, the more successful they will be.
America has unsurpassed natural wealth. Our abundant mountains, plains, forests and coasts, our lakes, rivers and streams, our wildlife and fish are unique in all of the world. They have provided for and have been cherished by millions of Americans for generation after generation. Our people living, growing and creating within our rich culture of liberty are our greatest resource. Americans today clearly aspire to improve upon our tradition of wisely using and conserving the world around us for generations to come. The American Conservation Ethic is the way to fulfill these aspirations.
The American Conservation Ethic recognizes that free people work to improve the environment. It relies upon empowering individuals to use, enjoy and conserve our environment. It inspires and challenges individual Americans to improve their surroundings and lives, and thereby the world we share. Cumulatively, these are the most effective and dependable means to ensure a cleaner, healthier and safer environment, conserve America's unique resources and protect that which we all treasure most people and liberty.
Principles of the American Conservation Ethic
I. People are the most important resource.
All environmental policy should be based on the idea that people are the most important resource. The inherent value of each individual is greater than the inherent value of any other resource. Accordingly, the foremost measure of quality of our environment is human health, safety and well-being. A policy cannot be good for the environment if it is bad for people. The best judge of what is or is not desirable is the affected individual.
Human intellect and accumulated knowledge are the only means by which the environment can be willfully improved or modified. Environmental policies should inspire people to be good stewards. Within the framework of equity and liability individuals carry out deeds that create incremental benefits in the quality or quantity of a resource or improve some aspect of the environment. Cumulatively these deeds result in progress and provide direct and indirect environmental benefits to society.
II. Renewable natural resources are resilient and dynamic and respond positively to wise management.
Renewable natural resources trees, plants, soil, air, water, fish and wildlife and collections thereof wetlands, deserts, forests and prairies are the resources we are dependent upon for food, clothing, medicine, shelter and to meet innumerable other human needs. Human life depends upon their use and conservation. Such resources are continually regenerated through growth, reproduction or other naturally occurring processes which cleanse, cycle or otherwise create them anew. While all living organisms and activities produce byproducts, nature has a profound ability to carry, recycle, recover and cleanse. These characteristics make it possible for us to wisely use renewable resources now while ensuring they are conserved for future generations. As Teddy Roosevelt, a founding father of conservation, recognized: "A Nation treats its resources well if it turns them over to the next generation improved and not impaired in value."
III. The most promising new opportunities for environmental improvements lie in extending the protection of private property and unleashing the creative powers of the free market.
Ownership inspires stewardship. Private property stewards have the incentive to enhance their resources and the incentive to protect them. Polluting another's property is to trespass or to cause injury. Polluters, not those most vulnerable in the political process, should pay for damages done to others. Good stewardship is the wise use or conservation of nature's bounty, based on our needs. With some exception, where property rights are absent, we must seek to extend them. If this proves elusive, we must seek to bring the forces of the market to bear to the greatest extent possible. There is a direct and positive relationship between modern market economies and a clean, healthy and safe environment. There is also a direct and positive relationship between the complexity of a situation and the need for freedom. Markets reward efficiency, which is environmentally good, while minimizing the harm done by unwise actions. In the market, successes are spread by example, and since costs are not subsidized but are borne privately, unwise actions are on a smaller scale and of a shorter duration. As a result, such actions are on a smaller scale and of a shorter duration. We must work to decouple conservation policies from regulation or government ownership. In aggregate, markets not mandates, most accurately reflect what people value and therefore choose for their environment.
IV. Our efforts to reduce, control and remediate pollution should achieve real environmental benefits.
The term pollution is applied to a vast array of substances and conditions that vary greatly in their effect on man. It is used to describe fatal threats to human health, as well as to describe physically harmless conditions that fall short of someone's aesthetic ideal. Pollutants occur naturally or can be a by-product of technology. Their origin does not determine their degree of threat. Most carcinogens, for example, occur naturally but do not engender popular fear to the same degree that man-made carcinogens do. Microbiological pollutants, bacteria and viruses, though natural, are by far the most injurious form of pollution. Technology and its byproducts must be respected but not feared. Science is an invaluable tool for rationally weighing risks to human health or assessing and measuring other environmental impacts. Health and well-being are our primary environmental measures. Science also provides a means of considering the costs and benefits of actions designed to reduce, control and remediate pollution or other environmental impacts so that we may have a cleaner, healthier and safer environment.
V. The Learning Curve is Green.
As we accumulate additional knowledge we learn how to get more output from less input. The more scientific, technical and artistic knowledge we have, the more efficient we are in meeting our needs. As we gain knowledge, we are able to conserve by substituting information for other resources. We get more miles per gallon, more board-feet per acre of timber, a higher agricultural yield per cultivated acre, more GNP per unit of energy. Technological advancement confers environmental benefits. Progress made it possible for the American farmer of today to feed and clothe a population more than two and a half times the size of the one we had in 1910 and triple exports over the same time frame while lowering the total acreage in production from 325 million to 297 million acres. That is 28 million acres less, an area larger than the state of Louisiana that is now available for other uses such as wildlife habitat. American agriculture has demonstrated that as an unintended consequence of seeking efficiencies, there are environmental benefits. As Warren Brookes used to put it simply , "The learning curve is green." This phenomenon has a tremendous positive effect on our environment and progress along the learning curve is best advanced by the relentless competition in the market to find the best or wisest use of a resource.
VI. Management of natural resources should be conducted on a site and situation specific basis.
Resource management should allow for variation of conditions from location to location and time to time. A site and situation specific approach takes advantage of the fact that those closest to a resource are best able to manage it. Such practices allow us to set priorities and break problems down into manageable units. Natural resource managers, on site and familiar with the situation, whether tending to the backyard garden or the back forty pasture, are best able to determine what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They are able to adapt management strategies to account for feedback and changes. A site and situation specific management scheme fits the particulars as no government mandate or standard can. Additionally, a site and situation specific approach is more consistent with policies carried out at lesser political levels. The closer the management of natural resources is to the affected parties, the more likely it is to reflect their needs and desires. The more centralized management is, the more likely it is to be arbitrary, ineffectual or even counterproductive. A site and situation specific approach avoids the institutional power and ideological concerns that dominate politicized central planning.
VII. Science should be employed as a tool to guide public policy.
Societal decisions rely upon science but ultimately are the product of ethics, beliefs, consensus and many other processes outside the domain of science. Understanding science for what it is and is not is central to developing intelligent environmental polices. Science is the product of the scientific method, the process of asking questions and finding answers in an objective manner. It is a powerful tool for understanding our environment and measuring the consequences of various courses of action. Through science we can assess risks, as well as weigh costs against benefits. While science cannot be substituted for public policy, public policy on scientific subjects should reflect scientific knowledge. A law is a determination to force compliance with a code of conduct. Laws go beyond that which can be established with scientific certainty. Laws are based upon normative values and beliefs and are a commitment to use force. Commitments to use the force of law should be made with great caution and demand a high degree of scientific certainty. To do otherwise is likely to result in environmental laws based upon scientific opinions rather than scientific facts. Such laws are likely to be wasteful, disruptive or even counterproductive, as scientific opinions change profoundly and often at a faster pace than public policy. The notion behind the Hippocratic oath first do no harm should govern the enactment of public policy.
VIII. Environmental policies which emanate from liberty are the most successful.
Our chosen environment is liberty, and liberty is the central organizing principle of America. To be consistent with our most cherished principle, our environmental policies must be consistent with liberty. Restricting liberty not only denies Americans their chosen environment, but also constrains environmental progress.
Liberty has powerful environmental benefits. Freedom unleashes forces most needed to make our environment cleaner, healthier and safer for the future. It fosters scientific inquiry, technological innovation, entrepreneurship, rapid information exchange, accuracy and flexibility. Free people work to improve the environment, and liberty is the energy behind environmental progress.
This does answer some urgent questions for me concerning our coffee-fellowship hour. From now on only washable, recycled paper cups, paper plates and paper napkins that are union made in America. And we will try our best to use only reusable coffee grounds only the drying process might present a problem since we are tight on space.
So the libs are changing the meanings of words again. Now pro-life is to mean pro-life everywhere but the womb.