Why the Greentopians Would Destroy the Earth
Written by Selwyn Duke
If you’d wanted some really cheap shorefront property, Lake Karachay circa 1990 was the place and time to buy. Nestled in the beauteous southern Ural Mountains, there was no better locale for peace, quiet, and solitude. There was a catch, however: Lingering around the shore a few hours put you at risk of acute radiation poisoning. But, hey, if you’re a Child of Atom (from video game Fallout 4) or a moss piglet (a small, radiation-resistant aquatic creature) and have a hankering for deathly silence, the small USSR lake could have been your Shangri-La.
Welcome to environmental stewardship, socialism style.
As with Indonesia’s Citarum River — one of the world’s most polluted and a dumping ground for human and industrial waste — Lake Karachay is an extreme example of an old phenomenon: Contrary to greentopian myth, poorer, more-undeveloped, less-free lands have the worst environments. In contrast, the freest, richest nations enjoy by far the cleanest environments and have flourishing, well-preserved wilderness. This truth has never been more relevant, too. For our time’s socialist doomsayer demagogues claim that if we just give them enough power, they’ll serve up a sustainable, verdant tomorrow. But history shows that they’ll deliver a toxic wasteland with pollution distributed to, and more equally affecting, everyone — except themselves.
Environmental destruction is an old story. It happens naturally on various scales. In fact, the most devastating environmental “catastrophes” — if we’re to thus label what atheists would brand purposeless natural occurrences and theists may call God’s will — have been authored by forces more powerful than man. Scientists tell us that there have been five mass extinctions during the Earth’s history, with causes ranging from ice ages to volcanic activity to a possible asteroid strike to the emergence of competitor species to the unknown (alas, the Green New Deal wasn’t around to save the day). All told, 99.9 percent of the species that have ever existed have gone extinct — virtually all without man’s help.
Of course, while many biologists claim we’re experiencing a sixth mass extinction (with the competitor species being us), any of the other aforementioned disasters could occur again. Additionally and according to Science™, we have to worry (well, we don’t really have to, but it is a hobby with some people) about a nearby supernova, a hotter burning sun, the death of our sun, colliding galaxies, a roving black hole, CO2 levels dropping too low to allow for plant photosynthesis, and, on the nearer term, out-of-control artificial intelligence (The Terminator) and aggressive, technologically superior extraterrestrials (Independence Day).
Returning to the more mundane, man’s environmental despoilment is not, as many assume, a modern Western phenomenon. Arid North Africa was once a Roman province and the empire’s breadbasket, but later Arab invasions led to the region’s medieval deforestation. The world’s largest desert, the Sahara, “was once green and alive, pocked with lakes, rivers, grasslands and even forests,” wrote the Smithsonian in 2017. But non-Western humans and their goats might have “tipped the balance” and kick-started a “dramatic ecological transformation,” suggests archaeologist David Wright. Across the pond, medieval American Indians via their agricultural practices “increased soil erosion and sediment yields to the Delaware River basin” and “decreased forest cover to reorient their settlements and intensify corn production,” a 2011 Baylor University study found. Moreover, “From New England to the Southwest, wherever Indian populations were dense and farming was intense, deforestation was common,” wrote the Property and Environment Research Center in 1996. “Indeed, the mysterious departure of the Anasazi from the canyons of southeastern Utah in the thirteenth century may have been due to depletion of wood supplies used for fuel.” There goes the “noble savage” living “in harmony with nature” bit.
That said, our time’s far-denser populations and greater technology — modern weapons, drift-net fishing, industry that can disgorge chemicals and toxic waste, nuclear contamination, etc. — create the potential for environmental destruction on a grander scale. There are serious problems, too, ranging from deforestation to water supply pollution to species’ extinction to oceanic debris, with plastics of particular concern. Furthermore, we’re told the issue is our modern, “unsustainable” lifestyles and that if the Third World becomes like us, perish the thought, doomed we will be; in fact, implied is that we need to become more like the Third World.
Intuitively, this can seem to make sense. I mean, we do produce a lot, and consume a lot, and use massive amounts of energy. We’re downright profligate. Yet is the above green assumption really true?
On the Environment, the West Is Best
In reality, Western Civilization is doing remarkably well environmentally. Consider the United States. We not only currently have our planet’s fourth-largest collection of forests, “comprising eight percent of the world’s forests, or about 300 million hectares,” wrote Wide Open Spaces in 2015, but also more trees now than we had 100 years ago. In fact, the Earth in general has more trees than it did 35 years ago, largely due to gains in Europe and North America.
Providing specifics about changes from 1982 to 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported in 2018 that the United States gained 378,000 square kilometers of tree canopy cover, while Europe added 741,000 square kilometers. Russia, part of which lies in Asia, “added 790,000 square kilometers,” writes the WEF. (Even China is doing better in this regard: After initiating a major tree-planting program, it has gained 324,000 square kilometers of trees.)
In contrast, the WEF tells us that South America lost 431,000 square kilometers from 1982 to 2016. As for Africa, policy institute Chatham House claimed in 2018 that up “to 58,000 square miles of forests are being lost to deforestation every year.” Do note, shrinking tropical jungle means lost biodiversity.
And what of air and water? “Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged” in the United States, wrote the Heritage Foundation in 2015. And 100 years ago, “about one in four deaths in America was due to contaminants in drinking water. But from 1971-2002, fewer than three people per year in the United States were documented to have died from water contamination.” Moreover, Europe also enjoys cleaner air and water than it did decades ago.
Yet in the developing world, air pollution “is getting worse,” reported The Guardian in 2018, with India having the title of “the most polluted country on earth,” according to the Financial Times. And as The Water Project tells us, “In developing countries, about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. [One] out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease.”
Then there are the oceans. Plastic micro-particles are now ubiquitous in them, and larger plastic items can kill marine creatures. As to the problem’s magnitude, “Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate [in] our marine environments,” according to the Ocean Conservancy. (Note: Some scientists believe these numbers are exaggerated, as naturally occurring, “plastic eating” microbes may already be at work.) Yet the United States is responsible for less than one percent of it, reported the Wall Street Journal in 2015, despite having 4.27 percent of the world’s population and producing approximately nine percent of the world’s plastic. (By the by, now-demonized plastic straws, which demagogues aim to deep-six, account for far less than one percent of our one percent.) As for Europe, it’s also a plastics one-percenter while producing almost 18 percent of the world’s plastic. So who’s guilty?
This article appears in the January 20, 2020, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.
Courtesy of The New American