LOPEZ: You’ve come to all of this human-dignity work as a man of the Left who worked with Ralph Nader. Where’s the common ground between the Left and the Right where policies can be supported that protect man and nature?
SMITH: I don’t think there should be a conflict between Left and Right on the goals that we seek to achieve. I believe in promoting human flourishing in the context of pursuing responsible environmental practices. There will always be debates on where to put the most emphasis. Some might want to give more leeway to enabling human activity, some to protecting the environment. There will always be differences that need to be worked through in a democratic fashion.
What I worry about is that the responsible environmentalism that has brought us so much benefit is being transformed into one that actually has the goal of throttling human prosperity and undermining the values of Western civilization. There is a growing tinge of authoritarianism in the movement, a growing Utopianism that I find dangerous, as I describe in the book.
LOPEZ: There’s a documentary version of your e-book. Are there things you just can’t say in text that the visual pulls off best?
SMITH: Sure. Visual images often have greater persuasive power than words alone. For example, I describe and quote from an article published in the New York Times that ridiculously advocated for “pea personhood.” The film — which was written and directed by my Discovery Institute colleague John West — also deals with advocacy for pea personhood using funny images of a pouting kid refusing to eat his peas, as well as wonderfully selected music, to mock the concept in a way that is both more entertaining and devastating than what I was able to present.
But I think it is important to state that the film and book are not identical. Each brings a somewhat different take to the same general subject, and in some areas explores different issues. They supplement and complement each other in a way that I think presents a more complete picture.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA.