Sunday, October 31, 2010

Objective Environmentalists?

Alex answers his mail, re: "Eco-Terrorists Sentence Skeptics to Death."

This article proved rather polarizing, even among the Objectivist-leaning audience of The Atlasphere. Most all ratings that weren't five stars were one star.

Marlize writes:

Excellent column. Disgusting videos. I'm tempted to watch them again — as I still can't believe these even exist in the world — but I'm eating breakfast as I write this and would prefer to keep it in.

I hope you're right when you say the video makers may have misjudged the situation and thought their views more mainstream than they are. I fear that all too many environmentalists, or even college students who are doing the hip thing and "going green," would find these commercials somehow amusing.

Great column, though.

Thanks a lot. Glad you liked my article.

Yeah, I know more people that apparently absorbed green through social osmosis than I care to. Seeing basically only defiant comments at the Armstrong YouTube interview was quite encouraging, though.

Maybe hip environmentalism is only skin deep. As long as they think they're green if they recycle their bottles and switch off the light when they leave the room, it's cool with them. But once they realize that environmentalism means no cell phones, no internet, and no flying and/or that noncompliance is answered with a death threat, it's a lot less hip.

I guess if civilization dies from environmentalism, it won't be with a bang, but with a whimper. One democratically enacted, environmentally friendly law after another until the lights go out.

Like some years ago in California. Of course the moon bats blame that on the free market, and not on the fact that too few if any new power plants get built…

Ramon writes:

Wow, the "Thompson Harmonizer."

I'm sure they'd love to have that. Only they'd call it the "harmony with naturizer."

Turns people into carbon. They couldn't get any more in harmony with nature.

Carbon is people!

Adrian writes:

I agree with you wholeheartedly with respect to the fallacy of global warming and the brainwashing of the unsuspecting public by the governmental encouragement of the propagation of incorrect "scientific" information. (Whew! Mouthful)

I have not yet formulated a philosophical opinion to the actual existence of an environmental issue which happened to be true.

Objectivists, of which I am one, are only too happy that this particular environmental issue, namely Global Warming, is false.

What if one lived on a volcanic island inhabited by 500 to 1000 people and his property was so situated that it was the highest in elevation of all owned properties where the main river ran through it before it flowed through or near anyone else's property — would it be legal and/or moral for him to poison the water while it flowed through his land? (I use "volcanic" merely to demonstrate the island's topographical characteristics).

This realistic situation has been plaguing me for a while now. Obviously harming the unsuspecting rest of the population is murder. If we agree on that premise, then the best answer I could come up with is that the water in the river is only his if he claims it. The only way to claim that water is to claim its molecules. The only way to do that is to gather and store that water in a container. THEN, he owns that water and can do whatever the hell he wants to do with it.

This may seem to be elementary but it surfaces contradictions with accepted Objectivist views on the environment.

Though it is quite possible to contain air molecules, should it be only legal/moral to poison the air that one contains? When one is afflicted with a highly contagious deadly virus, we all agree that he should be legally quarantined.

How is this different to poisoning the air or water with factory waste? I am all for production and do not believe that smoke stacks generally affect the environment enough to cause more unhappiness to my life than the products it produces promote happiness. However is there no waste that a factory can produce that would tip that happy/unhappy scale? If so, what then?


A philosophy is a system which equips man with a code of morality, according to reality if it is Objectivism, to achieve his own happiness. Just as man must know legal law before he acts, so too should he know moral law beforehand.

The example I illustrated above is far from farfetched. Yet we have no answer for it should it occur. Yet other Objectivists do not seem to care.

We need an answer.

Of course no one has a right to physically harm someone else negligently — otherwise anyone could murder anyone and pretend it was just negligence. And of course no one has a right to emit anything onto anybody else's property.

But to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and destruction, no one should use force unless he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the other party is guilty of aggression. And no one should use force over trifles, like you don't kill someone for pushing you.

So if the acid rain from someone's smokestack eats the laundry on your line, you have a right to stop his pollution by force. But if you can't prove that his carbon dioxide is causing any material damage, you should not.

John writes:

That ad campaign really misses the point with the death threats and all, I'll give you that.

Just let me tell you this, if your happiness and independence are going to be sacrificed to mother earth just by making a conscious effort to make this earth more livable then you're probably doing something wrong.

I agree that the video is way over the top and really takes the idea too far, I also think that joining a religion won't make the world a better place but cutting your emissions will have immediate benefits for the most important person: YOU!

Check your premises. Or rather, theirs.

They are not out to abolish waste. They're out to abolish flying.

Aaron writes:

Let me get this straight. You actually believe that global warming activists all secretly would act this way if given the chance. That this is "incontrovertible proof" of "their totalitarian anti-man designs to have everyone who refuses to sacrifice their happiness and independence to mother earth murdered."

Let me get this straight. You watched that video and Franny's comments and still aren't convinced that these global warming activists would act this way if given the chance?

As for all global warming activists, even if they have nothing to do with the video, not very many of them are "libertarian environmentalists" or "Quaker environmentalists" acting on their own beliefs and restricting their interactions with skeptics to nonviolent persuasion. Almost all environmentalists I ever heard of advocate the use of (government) force against dissenters ("polluters," "deniers," etc.).

Are you just hyping this idea to get attention, or are you some kind of dumbshit?

Actually, I'm more of a jerk. You're the dumb shit.

Of course I'm hyping it for all it's worth. To let the mainstream media hush it up would be irresponsible.

There is nothing inherently "anti-man" about wanting the planet that every single human lives on to possess a healthy environment. Quite the opposite actually.

It couldn't be more anti-man. The eco-terrorist don't want a healthy environment. They want to force people to make do with less just to make everybody as miserable as the eco-terrorists are.

Can people of all political persuasions make ads that are in bad taste? Certainly. But, to argue whether and how well this ad is trying to make a point with dark humor is beside the point. To truly believe that all "greens" really want to murder those that don't think exactly like them requires an extraordinary lack of judgment on your part.

You mean, "greens" do not advocate environmental legislation, and those who break those laws and defend themselves against the subsequent government aggression will not be murdered? To blank out the fact that eco-terrorists have the state aggress against "polluters" requires an extraordinary lack of judgment on your part.

Kyle writes:

Okay, so this particular ad campaign is in poor taste. It is a logical fallacy to attribute this poor taste to all environmentalists.

The scientific truth is that if we don't reduce our carbon emissions, the world will become unlivable. Most environmentalists are pro-science and pro-humanity. They are true objectivists.

The fallacy is all yours. It's called bait and switch, switching my "the environmentalists" for your "all environmentalists." I don't have to prove anything about every last environmentalist.

There were north of a hundred people involved in making this video, and it didn't occur to a single one of them to say, "Hey, wait, a terror threat, even tongue in cheek, might not be such a good idea"? That's a pretty good sample for me.

And if that's not enough, see the lack of nonaggressive greens noted above.

BTW, I'm not emitting any carbon. On the contrary, I have plenty of carbon in the form of coal burned for power generation.

As for your carbon emissions, I could sell you some carbon offsets. Or you could see a doctor. Something must be wrong with you if you emit carbon.

Or wait, what kind of carbon do you emit? Coal? Graphite? Diamonds? If it's diamonds, I'm willing to dispose of your carbon.

The snake oil salesmen who deny global warming are the ones who despise humanity, coddling them into committing global suicide by ignoring the scientific warnings and continuing to pollute with abandon.

"Global suicide"? Now, that sounds objective and scientific. You have me convinced.

You are aware that your "pollutant" is actually a nutrient? Our plants would need it if they weren't plastic.

Objectivists should be the first to embrace science and reason, to face our problems squarely and seek solutions boldly. When I see so-called objectivists denying science, I have to shake my head and roll my eyes. Get with it, people!

This kind of "science"?

Really, if it was 1930 and I showed you guys a funny nazi silent movie about gassing Jews, you'd say they don't mean it. The nazis hate Jews, and once they established a totalitarian nazi government, they exterminated Jews. The commies hate businessmen, and once they established a totalitarian commie government, they exterminated businessmen. The eco-terrorists hate everyone who produces carbon dioxide, and guess what they'll do once they establish a totalitarian eco-terrorists government?

Evidently, if the Franny Anderson types are the rulers, there will be death camps. How could anybody mistake the fanaticism evident in her videos for dark humor?

If your garden variety greens are the rulers, there may not be death camps, but there will be murder nonetheless. Everybody who refuses to have his standard of living reduced to Stone Age standards will be arrested and legally murdered once he resists arrest.

We're talking about a "problem" here whose science is very much not settled and that even if the worst-case scenarios are true can be solved relatively cheaply by building levees and replacing trailer parks and light-frame firetraps with real houses from steel, concrete, and masonry, as they should be anyway.

We're not talking about vilifying Jews or businessmen here, but a gas that is produced by any human activity, including breathing. You really want to put the most murderous invention of man, government, in charge of reducing that?

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