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Defend industry against terrorism ... before it's too late

By Onkar Ghate
web posted February 11, 2002

As our soldiers battle abroad and die in the war against terrorism, homegrown environmental terrorists have just released a report celebrating 137 separate acts of terrorism in 2001. "Highlights," they say, are arsons at a National Foods egg farm and at research laboratories of the University of Washington. Their past terrorism to "save" wilderness includes burning down housing projects, destroying logging trucks and pesticide equipment, firebombing a ski resort, and mailing explosives (the Unabomber) to executives and professors, which maimed or killed them.

Even more ominous than the growing environmental terrorism is the fact that--unlike in the case of Islamic terrorism--no one has yet risen to defend the irreplaceable values under attack by the environmentalists. Their targets are not, fundamentally, a particular ski resort or logging truck or research project, but what these represent: human technology, human progress, human life.

Man's life is sustained--and made longer, healthier, happier--by industrial development and technological progress. The antibiotics and chemotherapy treatments, which keep your body free from disease--the pesticides, bioengineering, and shopping malls, which make possible your consumption of almost any food imaginable--the oil rigs, dams, and nuclear power plants, which keep your lights on and washing-machine running--the telephones and computers which make an hour of your time vastly more productive--the large homes and ski resorts, which make your new-found recreational hours more enjoyable--it is these products of industrial civilization that are responsible for the vast increase in the quantity and quality of life that you enjoy today.

Imagine for a moment you were transported to Western Europe four hundred years ago (or parts of Africa today). Imagine the daily, excruciating physical labor required to grow meager crops or to haul water from miles away--assuming there is no drought. Imagine the filth and disease, because there are no sewage systems. Imagine the pain and misery as rotting teeth go untreated, broken bones go untended, failing eyesight goes uncorrected. This is a glimpse of life without industry.

The individuals terrorized by the environmentalists--scientists, inventors, and businessmen--are the creators of industrial civilization. Scientists, like Newton, discover truths about the workings of nature. Inventors, like Edison, use these truths to create new products which improve human life. And businessmen, like Ford, figure out ways to perfect and mass manufacture the inventions profitably.

These three categories of individuals represent the exploiters of wilderness, those who transform nature to support man's life. They find plains and forests, snow-covered mountains and insect-infested swamps, in which man's life is precarious, and build a human environment by creating houses, electric heaters, and chemical pesticides. They teach man his method of survival: using his mind to reshape nature to his needs. In their capacity as the tamers of nature, scientists, inventors, and businessmen are moral heroes.

Any limitation on their actions, therefore, is a limitation on your life, whether you go without a ski vacation because businessmen were prohibited from building resorts or you die of cancer because scientists were stopped from harvesting trees that yield an effective drug.

As monstrous as it sounds, it is because these heroes are the sustainers of human life that they are targeted by consistent environmentalists.

Despite common belief to the opposite, environmentalism is not a movement dedicated to improving man's life on earth. If it were, it would not oppose but champion industrial progress: luxury homes, dams, highways, bioengineering, food irradiation, etc.

Environmentalism instead champions wilderness. On this premise, science and technology are irredeemably evil. If the supreme value is a world untouched by human hands, then in logic man and industry are destroyers of value, to be eliminated by force if necessary.

Consistent environmentalists openly voice this hatred of industry and man. The head of the 1992 Earth Summit wonders: "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" A biologist with the U.S. National Park Services states: "Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to return to nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along." The founder of Green Peace reflects: "I got the impression that instead of going out to shoot birds, I should go out and shoot kids who shoot birds."

Environmentalism's worship of wilderness causes environmental terrorism. By making the preservation of "pristine" nature the ideal, environmentalism necessarily makes man, who survives by exploiting nature, the enemy.

If you value your life, you need to stand up and fight environmentalism with uncompromising moral courage. But even more important, you need to fight for rational values: man's life and industrial civilization.

Onkar Ghate, Ph.D. in philosophy, is a resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Marina del Rey, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Send comments to reaction@aynrand.org.

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