Google+
Close
The Greens’ Attack on Mariculture
They fear human involvement with nature.

Totem pole on Haida Gwaii

Text  


Robert Zubrin

There is a real irony here. The Haida are defending the human right to act as stewards of nature, while the warmists, who claim to be the elite of the most sophisticated society the world has ever seen, call for submission to the limits of the primitive earth. The Haida support scientific research to advance the human condition, while the allegedly cultured warmists superstitiously insist that such knowledge is to be shunned, and its practitioners suppressed. One must ask: Which side represents civilization?

History provides the answer. Starting as a few bands of hunter-gatherers, humanity expanded the food resources afforded by the land a thousandfold through the development of agriculture. In recent decades, the bounty from the sea has also been increased through rapid expansion of aquaculture, which now supplies about half of our fish. Without these advances, our modern global civilization of 7 billion people would not be possible.

Advertisement
But aquaculture makes use only of enclosed waters, and commercial fisheries remain limited to the coasts, upwelling areas, and other small portions of the ocean that have sufficient nutrients to be naturally productive. Most of the ocean, and thus the earth, remains a desert. The development of open-sea mariculture could change this radically, creating vast new food resources for both humanity and wildlife. Furthermore, just as increased atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have accelerated the rate of plant growth on land (by 14 percent since 1958, according to NASA satellite data), so increased levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean could lead to a massive expansion of flourishing sea life, provided that humans make the missing critical trace elements needed for life available across the vast expanse of the oceans.

The point deserves emphasis. The advent of higher carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere has been a great boon for the terrestrial biosphere, accelerating the rate of growth of both wild and domestic plants and thereby expanding the food base supporting humans and land animals of every type. Ignoring this, the carbophobes point to the ocean instead, saying that increased levels of carbon dioxide not exploited by biology could lead to acidification. By making the currently barren oceans fertile, however, mariculture would transform this putative problem into an extraordinary opportunity.

Which is precisely why those demanding restraints on carbon emissions hate mariculture. They hate it for the same reason that those demanding constraints in the name of allegedly limited energy resources hate nuclear power: They hate it because it destroys a problem they need to have.

The ultimate question comes down to this: Are humans creators or destroyers? If it is accepted that we are simply agents of destruction, consuming or ruining resources that existed before we came, then it follows that human activities, numbers, and liberties must be severely constrained and that someone must be empowered to do the constraining. On the other hand, if it is understood that humanity is fundamentally a creative force, that we invent resources and improve the world — unleashing abundance, lighting the night, ridding continents of pestilence, and bringing barren oceans to life — then it becomes clear that the essential mission of government is not to limit liberty but to defend it at all costs.

By advancing the case for humanity, the Haida have rendered us all a very important service.

— Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. His newest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, has just been published by Encounter Books.




Text  


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review