"Green Bigots"?

    A recent piece in the Opinion section of the Los Angeles Daily News simply stunned me with its outright hatred towards every facet of the environmental movement.  Titled "Beware the green bigot's 'religion'", the author, an African-American named Thomas Sowell, proclaims that environmentalists are guilty of "self-exaltation" and are "liars" and "pagans" and engaging in "Nature worship".

    In all, Sowell uses the word "bigot" fourteen times in a column perhaps three hundreds words in length.  He adds other insults like "bullies" and "shrill and self-righteous" to describe anyone who sees the environment as something that deserves and needs defending from people like him.

    In his attempt to prove that we should not allow the extinction of any species to interfere with building housing or expanded logging or other "urgent human needs", Sowell uses unbelievably specious and circular arguments.

    For instance he proclaims that the spotted owl's natural habitat, old growth forests, can be logged and clear-cut since "old growth trees were new growth trees.  Surely they have not been there since the dawn of time or even throughout the whole history of spotted owls."  In other words, since forests must have been young at one time in the last million years or so, then the spotted owl must have lived in those smaller trees.  Obviously, the idea of evolution, the act by which species adapt to their environment over hundreds or thousands or even millions of generations, isn't a part of this fellow's thinking.

    He accuses environmentalists of taking "on the godlike role of adjudicating between animals and people."  He then ignores the fact that he is as guilty as his feared environmentalists when he declares, "You cannot be a judge handing down edicts for others unless you are placing yourself above those others."  The difference, of course, is that the "edicts" handed down by environmentalists are intended to save entire species from extinction while Sowell's idols and owners are solely acting out of a greedy and sick need to produce profit at any cost or damage to the rest of the planet.  His owners would create a world with plenty of housing and industrial growth and access to lumber (while it lasted) but it would be a world that contained no beauty, no diversity, the only green found would be on their sacred and coveted money, and humanity would be on that last, slippery slope to our own extinction.

    The reality is that the environment is completely interlocked with all species being related to one another in the food chain.  We can never know what the ripple effects will be when we blithely murder a species into extinction.  Removing a species can reverberate throughout the local area and beyond.  

    Hawaii is an excellent example of this reality and of the stupidity of man when we try to outwit nature.

    When European ships arrived with trade goods, they also brought along the Norwegian rat.  These rats quickly caused the extinction of numbers of different birds and small animals unique to the Hawaiian Islands, sometimes unique to individual islands.  The authorities decided that they just had to do something about it so they looked around and found some evidence that a certain kind of weasel preyed on animals related to the rat.  They then imported hundreds of these animals and sat back, waiting for the weasels to solve the manmade problems.

    The result of all of this environmental planning?  Well, they soon learned that, while the rats were active during the day, the weasels were nocturnal creatures.  The two seldom crossed paths.  Of course, the weasels found the same food supply that the rats enjoyed and the native and unique birds and other small animals continued to disappear.

    Obviously, Sowell has become so hateful of the idea of living with nature instead of destroying nature in a sick exchange for extremely short term profits that he can now pretend that his spite towards the environment and those who protect it from people like him are worth wasting precious news print with such drivel.  Nevertheless, his rantings offer us a glimpse into the twisted mind of another far right, greedy, unthinking and uncaring apologist.  This is exactly why the world is in the sad shape it is in.  It is also exactly why, unless we stop allowing his ilk in both of the major parties from kneeling before their masters in Corporate America, the world is simply going to become uninhabitable for any living thing.

    For some, profit is all that matters.  For the thinking and caring majority, though, we know that we can have a decent and healthy standard of living at the same time we protect and nurture the world around us.  We have no right, either morally or intellectually, to behave as Sowell would have us behave.  We should be ashamed that people like him even exist.

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Copyright 5/26/01