"Man can't hurt the Earth!"

What are "conservatives" trying to conserve?

When it comes to ecology, many of today's so-called conservatives think the Earth was put here for Man's use and they have no concept of natural limits. A good number don't care about nature to begin with. The oft-quoted Theodore Roosevelt would have been disgusted with today's Republicans. He was poles apart from those who see nature as just a resource grab-bag. Roosevelt fought hard to protect wilderness from turn-of-the-century takers. Today's greedy conservatives are hypocrites to cite him in hindsight as a "reasonable" environmentalist.

One of the last notable Republican champions of nature was Oregon Governor Tom McCall, who fought for Portland's urban growth boundary (1973 speech excerpt). The majority of Republicans are "property rights" advocates who see nature as a commodity to be cashed out. This includes many Portland area farmers, jealous of rising land values inside the urban zone. The concept of humans as guests on the land is alien to them, even though the land will outlast any given property owner.

Many conservatives believe the Earth was created by a deity in seven days. This belief (as stated by Rush Limbaugh in his first book) is evidence of the scientific illiteracy that plagues the populace and makes it easy for right-wing pundits to fire up the ignorant. It's odd that they accuse ecologists of being anti-technology and anti-science when they're the ones who won't accept scientific data.

The very existence of the Christian Right is hypocritical, since Jesus Christ was essentially a hippie with altruistic, empathetic values. He'd be handing out peace literature, not whining about minor losses of gun rights or bickering over taxation to help the needy. If Jesus could call the Limbaugh program he'd be cut off as a bleeding-heart socialist, daring to spread the wealth among the many. The ubiquitous Golden Rule (also from the book of Matthew) is falsely interpreted by many conservatives as a means to justify revenge. It's actually a philosophy of reciprocation that goes against base urges like greed and anger that drive the average wingnut.

For many Republicans, "good" science is that which supports a particular economic agenda (like the continuation of CFC production or relaxation of emissions standards) and "bad" science is that which points out Man's mistakes and Man's negative impact on ecosystems. Most people claim to be in favor of "reasonable" environmentalism (everyone likes a nice wilderness vista), but they refuse to acknowledge that endless growth is in direct conflict with conservation. "Good" environmentalism is that which never interferes with one's personal agendas such as mining, logging, construction, waste disposal, riding dirt-bikes in desert habitat or taking potshots at "varmints" and endangered species. "Bad" environmentalism is any form of eco-regulation that requires more than a small personal sacrifice. The notion that scientists invent ecological problems to advance a socialist agenda or raise money for eco-groups is unfounded and small-minded.

Even when Republicans claim to respect nature (who doesn't like pockets of nice scenery?) they ignore or deny man-made threats to it. These excerpts from a U.C.D. newspaper article reveal an entrenched anthropocentric mentality.

"...Most liberals think that conservatives only care about nature when it makes them money, or that as God's children they believe nature is here for the use of man, and to hell with conservation. There are segments of the ideology that hold these beliefs. But that stereotype is far from the truth..."

Above, the author accurately describes why Republicans are apathetic toward nature, touching on the huge religious component. But it's false to claim "that stereotype is far from the truth." Look at their voting habits. They usually give nature a raw deal unless it has recreational value (e.g. Ducks Unlimited preserving wetlands so they can shoot waterfowl).

Further on, he writes:

"...But most environmentalists seem to have a curious aversion for everything human, which underlies everything they do. They hate to see population growth or the spread of civilization into nature. In any conflict over resources they desperately defend the wild, the original state of things. Anything manmade, they try to make more natural in design, appearance and sustainability. Even animals that are associated with humans, such as cows, pigs and rats, can become villains to environmentalists, as they destroy native species and habitats with the seeming mundanity of their human masters..."

In that paragraph, he cuts to the root of environmental problems; endless population growth & rising consumption, but then skips right over it! That "curious aversion" is just people seeing that their own species is wrecking nature. Instead of curtailing human excess, he'd rather push the stereotype of environmentalists as people-haters. Do environmentalists hate all people because they are tired of specific ones who pillage nature? What is nature being protected from in the first place? The environmental movement didn't come about because everyone was conserving. Some people passively harm nature because they're born into growth-based economies. Others destroy it deliberately for profit and don't care. They are the ones who earn the greatest wrath. It's usually a matter of discerning intent, not a blanket hatred of mankind. The author fails to acknowledge limits to human expansion. Once it's decided that endless, unnatural population/economic growth is a "natural" process, attempts to control it can be spun as anti-human vs. pro-nature.

Republicans like Rush Limbaugh can be logical on issues like crime and wasteful social programs, but as a Creationist with no literal grasp of nature's workings, Limbaugh has no business preaching about ecology and lying about the motives of honest environmentalists. Conservatives who visit national parks should remember that John Muir (who saved Yosemite) was an aesthetically-motivated preservationist and considered an extremist by growth addicts in the 1800's. Without Muir's "tree hugging" efforts Yosemite Valley was destined to suffer the same fate as neighboring Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Today, many Republicans are echoing the greed of the past by calling for mining and grazing permits in national parks. Odds are that "ecofreaks" fought to preserve those places, and guess who they were fighting against? We'd be much better off if there were more conserve-atives and fewer money-grubbing growth addicts.

A classic example of Limbaugh's dishonesty

Three of Rush Limbaugh's famous "undeniable truths" (with responses):

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." (John Kenneth Galbraith)

Puny little Man can't harm nature!

We don't need no stinkin' permits!

Glummer H2: drive it like you stole the gas.

White trash "sportsmen" reveal their true nature.

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