The Corner

Re: Arbor Day

E-mailer David puts his finger on why the granola-bar approach resonates with so many conservatives (including me):

Back during the Vietnam War, many “God and country” Americans had reservations about the wisdom and conduct of the war, but were so appalled by the message, methods and values of the anti-war movement, there was no way to express it without being identified with the America-loathing loonies. They weren’t pro-war. They were anti-anti war.

The same is true today for many conservatives—especially Christian conservatives—on environmental issues. In contrast to the humanity-despising hordes of the green movement, we know we belong on the planet; that in fact, it “belongs” to us; but that we have a stewardship responsibility to manage and use it wisely. But it is difficult to express those views without being lumped in with the Voluntary Extinction Movement crowd.

Mary from Alabama is a case in point:

I’m not very sympathetic to either Frum or Dreher on this point, mainly because most of the people who claim to love the Earth don’t know a damned thing about it.  My family has managed (profitably!) thousands of acres of land for everything from general farming to cotton, soybeans, cattle, and timber.  My father produced the first fully mechanized bale of cotton in the world, and I was 12 before I realized you could get vegetable soup in a can.

Most of the greenies I have met have never managed anything larger than a flower pot.  They don’t understand land systems, or weather systems.  They preen endlessby about buying organic and recycling, but they grow nothing.  I grow enough to keep 8 adults and 4 children in citrus and many vegetables, and my little greenhouse and some extra labor often sees me having fresh tomatoes through the winter until February or March, and I have some pepper plants that are 3 years old.

When Frum and Dreher can say likewise, I’ll pay more attention to them.

(In Rod’s defense, he has a garden and raises chickens.) And Herschel writes about energy needs in the same vein:

There is a fundamental flaw in his thinking, and it goes to presuppositions.  Dreher believes that with less snarking and more respect for both environmental issues and environmentalists themselves, they would somehow begin to react to our own arguments less stridently, or perhaps even listen with respect with an open mind.

But most environmentalists – at least, the educated ones – already know what the solutions are to energy and environmental problems.  I’m sorry to burst bubbles, but the required infrastructure and available land surface area to build and maintain thousands upon thousands of wind mills is simply not sustainable.  Further, the animal advocates would scream when America saw the consequent devastation to the bird population in areas where we put these unsightly and unnecessary wind mills.

As for solar power, this is a nice idea and we should harness it to the extent practical, but it will never meet more than a few percent of our national needs.  Furthermore, the batteries necessary to store the energy are themselves an environmental problem.  Coal is dirty.  No, I’m not talking about CO and CO2, I am talking about all of the non-greenhouse gas constituents such as sulfur, nitric acid, mercury, Uranium and other heavy metals, and so on.  Game management for many lakes in the U.S. recommend against eating fish caught in them because of mercury.

The smart liberal environmentalists already know all of this, as do the smart conservative environmentalists.  There is basically one good option – nuclear.  Nuclear to power removal of hydrogen from water, which can then be burned to produce (you guessed it) water.  Again, the smart ones already know all of this, and the technology is decades old. . . .

So if the smart conservative environmentalists and the smart left-of-center environmentalists already know all of these things, to whom are we directing our prose?  Well, the only ones left are the ones who worship the environment as a religious cause.  This group doesn’t think in terms of second or third order effects or unintended consequences or any of the other things I discussed above.  They are on a mission, and this mission isn’t powered from the head.  It’s motivation is heart-felt but very confused and visceral, very base and lacking a sophisticated understanding of the subject to which they speak. . . .

The market has spoken, and market-based solutions were known decades ago.  Nuclear it is.  Coal can’t be cleaned much further, and besides, the expense associated with much more cleaning makes it infeasible.  Solar and wind won’t sustain the economy.  Ignoring the answers and dismissing the last several decades of growth in understanding the issues isn’t something that can be repaired by our genuflecting at the altar of environmental worship along with the environmentalists who neither really want the solution nor care what we think.

I agree completely on nuclear power, but we’re not succeeding in making our case because too many conservatives are misidentifying the audience. Herschel wrote “So if the smart conservative environmentalists and the smart left-of-center environmentalists already know all of these things, to whom are we directing our prose? Well, the only ones left are the ones who worship the environment as a religious cause.” But that’s not correct; it’s obvious, of course, that we’re never going to persuade the exterminationist Deep Ecology folks who agree with Agent Smith that “Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we . . . are the cure.” Instead, our target is the broad middle of the American public, that has no plans for voluntary extinction but also wants what historian Samuel Hays called “environmental amenities” like clean air and water and wilderness preservation. Developing credibility on envirnomental issues with the public is the prerequisite for our being taken seriously on nuclear power, global warming, etc. Until then, the self-hating idiots on the Left are the only game in town.

Most Popular

History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More