DOWN WITH WRONGHEADED PROGRESSIVISM
by John Spritzler
July 30, 2023
The URL of this article for sharing it is https://www.pdrboston.org/wrongheaded-progressivism
There is a very wrongheaded view, heard mainly on so-called progressive venues, that starts with the flagrant denial of this fact:
That the earth in its pristine "natural" form, has always been a place where it has been very difficult for humans to survive, because of draughts, floods, hurricanes, lack of sufficient edible plants and easily hunted animals to eat, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, predators large and small--visible and invisible, ice ages and heat waves, and so forth; and that in order to survive humans have always had to make substantial changes to the earth.
This wrongheaded view asserts with a kind of religious conviction that the highest morality entails leaving the earth in its pristine "natural" form and not changing it, in other words that humans should be like animals who supposedly do not change, but rather live with, the natural pristine earth; except of course animals don't really do that, as even the obvious case of beavers illustrates, but also many other animals when investigated also illustrate.
Some advocates of this wrongheaded view praise American Indians because they wrongly believe that American Indians didn't change the earth but just lived on it "naturally"; but the fact is the American Indians made huge changes to the earth to humanize it, such as using large fires to keep the buffalo herds plentiful, and creating literal orchards of edible fruit trees where inedible forests once were. (Read Charles Mann's book,1491, about this.)
According to this wrongheaded view, anything that humans do that has an impact on the earth is, for that reason alone, evil.
According to this wrongheaded view, extracting natural gas (a fossil fuel) from the earth to make the chemical fertilizer that is today required to feed half the world's population is an evil thing to do. Proponents of this wrongheaded view will grasp for ANY identifiable negative consequence of using fossil-fuel-produced fertilizer--regardless of how few people it affects or how minimal the effect might be--to argue for not producing the fertilizer, and use this to argue that the fertilizer should not be produced REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY BILLIONS OF PEOPLE RELY ON IT TO EAT. Proponents of this view blithely say, "let them eat organic-farmed food," ignoring that organic farming alone cannot feed 8 billion people.
Proponents of this wrongheaded view likewise seize on the fact that C02 from burning fossil fuel may raise the temperature of the planet and declare this to be a catastrophe that must be prevented at all costs, ignoring the fact that the earth's global temperature is far colder now than in the past when life THRIVED and that the level of C02 is far lower than in the past when life THRIVED.
Proponents of this wrongheaded view equate a) changing the earth in any way to make it possible for humans to flourish, with b) being an evil profit-driven, exploiting, capitalist. They don't distinguish--they don't WANT to distinguish--between these two things (which is partly why they don't like to acknowledge that the American Indians changed the earth big time in order to be able to flourish, a fact that forces one to make this distinction.) Thus proponents of this view accuse anybody who wants to keep feeding all 8 billion people of the world and who knows this requires making fertilizer from natural gas of being a tool of Big Oil.
Proponents of this wrongheaded view devote all their energy to trying (futilely, by the way) to stop the use of fossil fuel instead of trying to remove the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor. Indeed, the proponents of this wrongheaded view regard the biggest billionaires and royalty (Rockefellers, Gates, Bezos, King Charles III, etc.) of the world as the good guys because despite their greed they are constantly calling for ending the use of fossil fuel and getting to net-zero.
Of course the proponents of this wrongheaded view ignore or deny the fact that these billionaires dare not really end the use of fossil fuel, and are not actually doing that, because these billionaires know that if they did prevent half the world's population from eating and having the myriad products (including probably most of the objects within the sight right now of you who are reading this, not to mention cement for buildings to shelter us and the ship and plane fuel that makes world trade possible and allows heavy earth-moving equipment to change the route of rivers to protect us from floods and even to produce windmill blades and solar panels and electric car batteries, etc.) made from fossil fuel--i.e., the products that make life bearable for billions of people--then there would be world-wide revolutions to remove those billionaires from power.
Proponents of this wrongheaded view, when pushed to reveal their actual almost-religious thoughts, often declare that "It would be better for the planet if there were no human beings at all." (Really! This is advocated in all seriousness in an article titled, "It Would be Much Better if Humans Didn’t Exist," by Jennifer Rose Edwards at https://medium.com/writing-in-the-media/it-would-be-much-better-if-humans-didnt-exist-691a9dd9d33.) Such is the fundamentally anti-human essence of this wrongheaded view. It's a form of insanity.
The "better if there were no humans at all" view is insane because it is, when one thinks about it even when starting from its own premise, self-contradictory. Here's why. The premise of this "no humans" notion is that the planet, not people, is what is truly valuable and it is what we should most value.
Assume, for the sake of argument, that this is true. Now consider: What did the truly valuable planet produce? It produced humans: humans who, more than anything else it has ever produced, consciously appreciate--in personal thoughts and written works of poetry and in musical compositions and performances, etc.--the value: the beauty, the majesty and in many cases the sacredness--of the planet. The planet produced humans who are its greatest admirers and appreciators. It is therefore the opposite of valuing the planet, it is actually contemptuous of the planet to assert that it was wrong to have produced humans and "it would be better if there were no humans." The "better if no humans" view thus contradicts its own premise; it is insane.