The Corner

Science & Tech

Science Article Castigates ‘Human Supremacy’

(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Environmentalism is growing darkly anti-human, a misanthropy that has also seeped into science.

Vivid case in point: Science, one of the world’s most prominent scientific journals, just published an anti-human exceptionalism screed by Eileen Crist. Crist, who has a Ph.D. in sociology and not in any of the natural sciences, writes to warn that the end is nigh — and the reason for the pending catastrophe is “human supremacy.” From “Reimagining the Human:”

This worldview esteems the human as a distinguished entity that is superior to all other life forms and is entitled to use them and the places they live. The belief system of superiority and entitlement—or human supremacy—manifests in a range of anthropocentric commonplace assumptions, linguistic constructs, institutional regimes, and everyday actions of individual, group, nation-state, and corporate actors.

Crist wields the term “human supremacy” to create a mental association in the reader’s mind with the evils of racial supremacists — in much the same way that global-warming activists denigrate skeptics as “climate-change deniers” to associate them with Holocaust doubters.

Crist doesn’t just attack human exceptionalism, but also the West — which she and her publisher seem to forget is the source of so much scientific advancement:

It is crucial to recognize that human supremacy is neither culturally nor individually universal, nor is it derived in any straightforward way from human nature. However, western civilization has elaborated its most forceful, long-standing expression, and through the West’s ascendancy the influence of this worldview has spread across the globe.

And thank goodness for it. Western civilization created unprecedented liberty and general prosperity. The problem in our world is too little of “the West,” not too much.

But nihilism strikes a beat. Crist calls on us to reject “human hegemony” and  embrace an “all species commonwealth:”

By operating on all these levels, the worldview of human distinction-and-prerogative obstructs the capacity to question human hegemony for the sake of Earth’s inherent splendor and in the service of a high-quality human life within a downsized, equitable global civilization nested in an all-species commonwealth.

Just how would an “all species commonwealth” work, anyway? I know! By granting “rights” to “nature” and animals — already happening and threatened — with the interests of non-humans and geological features represented in halls of power and courts by ideologues like Crist.

As always in radical environmental advocacy of this type, Crist urges us to embrace decline:

The reigning human-nature hierarchical worldview thus hinders the recognition that scaling down and pulling back is the most farsighted path forward. Scaling down involves reducing the overall amount of food, water, energy, and materials that humanity consumes and making certain shifts in what food, energy, and materials are used.

This quantitative and qualitative change can be achieved by actions that can lower the global population within a human-rights framework, shrink animal agriculture, phase out fossil fuels, and transform an extractionist, overproducing, throwaway, and polluting economy into a recycling, less busy, thrifty, more ecologically benign economy

Apparently Crist isn’t aware that Paris is burning because of popular protests against such policies.

As to the larger philosophical point, denying human exceptionalism is just crackers. Can there be any reasonable question that we are the most advanced, and yes, morally important species to ever reside on the planet? Accepting that truth certainty doesn’t mean that we have license to despoil the earth. We alone are a moral species, meaning that we have solemn duties, including the obligation to treat the environment responsibly — as our many laws in furtherance of that end attest.

Enviro-mystics like Crist are common these days. That Science, of all publications, would print such emotionally based extremism is not only shocking but demonstrates the growing peril to the science sector from human-phobia.

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Sad Finale

Spoilers Ahead. Look, I share David’s love of Game of Thrones. But I thought the finale was largely a bust, for failings David mostly acknowledges in passing (but does not allow to dampen his ardor). The problems with the finale were largely the problems of this entire season. Characters that had been ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Great Misdirection

The House Democrats are frustrated, very frustrated. They’ve gotten themselves entangled in procedural disputes with the Trump administration that no one particularly cares about and that might be litigated for a very long time. A Washington Post report over the weekend spelled out how stymied Democrats ... Read More
World

Australia’s Voters Reject Leftist Ideas

Hell hath no fury greater than left-wingers who lose an election in a surprise upset. Think Brexit in 2016. Think Trump’s victory the same year. Now add Australia. Conservative prime minister Scott Morrison shocked pollsters and pundits alike with his victory on Saturday, and the reaction has been brutal ... Read More
NR Webathon

We’ve Had Bill Barr’s Back

One of the more dismaying features of the national political debate lately is how casually and cynically Attorney General Bill Barr has been smeared. He is routinely compared to Roy Cohn on a cable-TV program that prides itself on assembling the most thoughtful and plugged-in political analysts and ... Read More
Film & TV

Game of Thrones: A Father’s Legacy Endures

Warning! If you don't want to read any spoilers from last night's series finale of Game of Thrones, stop reading. Right now. There is a lot to unpack about the Thrones finale, and I fully understand many of the criticisms I read on Twitter and elsewhere. Yes, the show was compressed. Yes, there were moments ... Read More