LOPEZ: You write about people believing fungi and ants are equal to people, but surely this isn’t mainstream? Why should we be concerned about these ideas?
SMITH: You are referring to a relatively new advocacy meme in environmentalism known as “nature rights,” under which “nature” is granted the “right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate vital cycles.” In essence, that is a right to life for nature that must be given equal consideration to the rights and needs of humans.
Take a look at the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature, which states: “Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, origin, use to human beings, or any other state.” So, you and a fly — heck, an outcropping of granite — are equal.
And if there are “conflicts” among the organic and inorganic rights bearers, well, they must be resolved “in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth” — whatever that means. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which has been pushing nature rights around the world, says that conflicts between nature and man must be decided in court. And since nature-rights laws permit everyone and anyone to sue to protect nature’s rights, you can bet such laws would keep a lot of attorneys very busy.
“Nature rights” are already here. They have been adopted into law by Ecuador and Bolivia. About 30 American municipalities, including Santa Monica, have enacted such laws. They are supported by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, and are even proposed for inclusion in an eventual international treaty to fight global warming. I’d say that is moving pretty fast into the mainstream!
And some of the world’s most prominent environmentalists make explicitly anti-human statements and propose policies that would harm human thriving. For example, Sir David Attenborough — he’s as establishment as it gets — has called humans a “plague on the planet.” He has applauded China’s “one child” policy, even though it has led to forced abortion and female infanticide. So have other mainstream global-warming fighters, as I illustrate in the book. The environmentalist rock star David Suzuki has called human beings “maggots” who crawl around “defecating all over the environment.” He made that statement a long time ago, but refused to recant in a recent interview, simply saying, “Humanity is humanity . . . I just wish they’d stop being so human!” Pay attention to what many of the leading environmentalists and global-warming fighters say and you will hear people described as cancer, viruses, AIDS, parasites, etc. It’s not healthy.
LOPEZ: What do you mean when you say green has gone brown?
SMITH: This is another way of saying “green is the new red.” When you mix the colors red and green, you get brown. That was my way of noting that environmentalists have allowed a completely unnecessary anti-free-market mentality to envelop the movement. And yet, ironically, the most polluting countries have been Communist, e.g., the Soviet Union and (still) China. It’s really quite amazing.
LOPEZ: Why does Earth Hour bother you? Turning out the lights now and again doesn’t hurt anyone.
SMITH: I always thought of it as a rather meaningless way of “doing something” without any actual sacrifice — and then patting ourselves on the back for “caring,” even though nothing was actually accomplished.
Then I read a commentary by Canadian columnist Ross McKitrick, who wrote that Earth Hour “celebrates ignorance, poverty, and backwardness” by “repudiating the greatest engine of liberation” of mankind, meaning electricity. I think he’s on to something. We need more electricity in the world, not less — particularly in the destitute areas of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa.
LOPEZ: What do you mean when you say that Switzerland is “off its rocker” when it comes to plants?
SMITH: Switzerland placed in its constitution a clause to guarantee that “account to be taken of the dignity of creation when handling animals, plants and other organisms.” But nobody knew exactly what that meant. So, the Swiss government appointed members of the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it all out.
Its report, The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants, determined that we cannot claim “absolute ownership” over plants and, moreover, that “individual plants have an inherent worth.” They even claimed that “decapitating” — their word, not mine — a wild flower is morally wrong.
Not coincidentally in my view, this is the same country that permits suicide clinics and outlaws the flushing of live goldfish down the toilet. When you reject the unique dignity of human beings, you go a little nuts.