For the life of me, I cannot recall who first observed that environmentalists now make the most perfectly hissable villains, because they almost invariably make matters worse in the long run. Absolute certainty in their own mind that their dictates are the one and only true way, combined with reluctance to consider any other method, and of late, just about all their prescriptions have had lamentable results … yes, there is a perfect villain. Smug, certain … and wrong. Catastrophically, earth-shatteringly, human-damaging, and economically-harmful wrong.
I will concede that it didn’t start out that way, of course. It’s perfectly reasonable to want clean air to breathe; I remember how smog in LA made my throat hurt when I was a kid, before home incineration of household waste was banned. It’s reasonable and salutary not to dump industrial wastes into rivers; having a river catch fire is at the very least, unexpected and embarrassing. It’s also reasonable and salutary not to bury 55-gallon drums of dangerous waste products where a housing development can later be built over them. It’s also quite reasonable to refrain from hunting game or apex predator species to the point of extinction; an understanding which has been in place for all of the previous century. And finally, it is eminently reasonable to expect a general and accurate understanding on the part of engaged citizens of how ecologies work. Things in the natural world all fit together, sometimes obviously, and sometimes obscurely; and pulling a thread at once corner will inevitably cause something in another corner to unravel, often in completely unforeseen ways.
Alas, reason and moderation seem to have gone out of fashion among the professional environmental scold; perhaps it’s something to do with diminishing returns; chasing tinier and tinier causes, once the big projects were done and dusted. It is said that in academia the fights are so vicious because the stakes are so small. In matters environmental, as the great causes were won, the professional enviro-scolds become even more dogmatic over smaller and smaller elements. Bit by bit, the environmental became personal. In service to the professional enviro-scolds their sympathizers in the political/bureaucratic realms have managed to land us all with inefficient low-flow toilets, limiters on shower-heads and hot-water heaters, dishwashers that don’t really wash dishes, washing machines that don’t really clean clothes, crappy curly-whirly lightbulbs which create their own environmental hazard when broken. Environmentally sustainable is apparently newspeak for “crappy, inefficient and expensive.” And that’s apparently just the start; eventually we’re all supposed to not have electricity at all, if it’s generated from coal, oil, or natural gas.
Screwing over consumers isn’t the half of the damage done. They’ve poured mine-waste contaminants into a formerly pristine Western river, turned California’s once-profitable farmlands into near-desert for the benefit of a bait-fish which probably wasn’t in danger of extinction anyway, beggared whole districts which depended on industry, logging, mining and manufacturing, and damn-near burned down half that state and a good chunk of Australia while congratulating themselves on being environmentally-sensitive. The millions of wild animals burned alive in those fires are not grateful for the consideration of their environment, however.
And the most galling aspect of the enviro-scolds as villains? They don’t seem capable of admitting error, ever – and now they look to be going all in for blaming it all on human-caused global warming and demanding even stricter controls over human activities and choices. Discuss as you wish.