Thursday, December 08, 2005

Revisiting 'Dennis Prager on the environment' part 3

I remember a quote Dennis Prager once said about the worlds values: They are backwards. For example, people who are anti-war and fighting terrorism eventually breed more evil because they do not defeat it when the chance is available. There are many other examples Prager used that I cannot think of off the top of my head. The irony for me is Prager's ideology on the environment appears to be caught in that same cycle of backwardness found in my two articles (1, 2). In detail, those who believe in a Creator naturally have to believe natures design came from the same Creator. Being Dennis' tone in his criticisms of nature worship appear to want his readership to not place value on nature other than as a human commodity, is it not backwards for a religious man to hold a spiritual value to a Creator but not for what the Creator created (nature)?

For the Right the opposition is in opposing a leftist ideal while right and wrong take a backseat. Another backwardness from my perspective can be found in todays conservative ideals being opposite to a Republican man by the name of Teddy Roosevelt who was once the creditor of placing protections on National Parks and Forests. Because to be "conservative" is also to be a "conservationist." They go hand-in-hand. And now it is the Left who are the conservatives and conservationists on the environment. The key operative as I've said before is the passion is overwhelmingly on the Left's side. "Antienvironment" is a word I chose to not use because of how the Left can overheighten its meaning. However, I'm not in total disagreement. The Right's disdain for the Left is so great it has carried over into their outlook on the environment. It is viewed as an economic commodity, and any other view, particularly spiritual, is viewed as leftist drivel. The Right are so focused on adamently being against the Left, they've lost touch with the philosophical idea of wanting to protect nature like Roosevelt envisioned. Because it actually benefits humanity. Consumption in the form of technology in America is held at such high a premium value, it is no wonder those who feel a connection to nature are accused of being granola-munching nuts. There really is no plan for the environment in developing nations either. No outline to set aside protections for Nat'l Parks and Forests while allowing the bulk of the remainder of the American landscape to be open to business. Being some of these areas are already logged in, I find that to be a pretty good but sad indicator of what America thinks of our Nat'l monuments and heritages.

After three years of conservative radio, I've come to realize the Right basically believe they are always, well, right. In other words, extremism or excessiveness always exist in the Left, but never in themselves. It is rather backwards again for the conservative party to be choffing at those who believe we need environmental protections. Because when the REP's (Republicans for Environmental Protection) President Martha Marks endorsed Robert Devine's (a Democratic supporter) book, Bush Versus the Environment, I knew that was rather odd and telling. She said:

It is unfortunate that a book like this needed to be written, but it truly did; I wish it were not so. I recommend it to all those who believe, as I do, that protecting this beautiful planet we call home should not be a partisan affair.


Throught it all, the one small principle of satisfaction I have is knowing the Prager's of the world, no matter how hard they try to seperate God from Nature, can never be above it. Natural resources are in our clothing, our computers, the vehicles we drive. It is even in more visible abundance in city's everywhere in the form of trees to clean the air. No matter how hard agendas are pushed to exploit it, nature will still always be there. That while some agendas are trying to impress that it can be removed from our conscious, our subconscious will always at some point or another gravitate back to nature in the form of amongst other things, the need for a walk to revitalize. Even in the metropolitan areas where dense nature is scarce, it isn't pavement and buildings that calms and makes us whole again, it is the planted trees on the boulevard and blue sky or sparkling twilight.

Unlike the religious Dennis Prager, I can thank God for that.


[As a side note, I've played this game in my mind where maybe the Bush administration would be consider the robber barons (or positive description if you believe they are simply unregulating what's been overregulated) of yesteryear for profits while Teddy Roosevelt as Robin Hood for the principle of returning land to Indians. Oh well. Tuche.]


Outlook 4/9/01
By John Leo
An unnatural stand
Why don't conservatives care about saving the planet?

After a speech I gave to a conservative group in New York, a man rose and asked: Didn't I think all the alarm about global warming was just another example of the politically correct agenda of the left? I said no, the evidence of a drastic warming trend seemed overwhelming to me. I missed the opportunity to say that the "no consensus on warming" crowd now sounds a lot like the tobacco lobby arguing that the link between smoking and lung cancer has not yet been established. Even without this observation, the questioner deemed my response incorrect. So he asked again to give me a fresh chance to get things right. I said I didn't understand why social conservatives are generally hostile to environmental concern. Shouldn't conserving come naturally to conservatives?

Apparently not. Economic conservatives, for whom the Wall Street Journal is the primary spokesman, are dismissive of most environmentalism. When President Bush announced he would not abide by the Kyoto protocol calling on America to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the Journal hailed him for "refusing to bow before the environmentalist holy of holies." Derisive references to environmentalism as a quasi religion of the softheaded tend to play well among social and religious conservatives, who generally don't respond to arguments from big business. These references remind all conservatives that the most extreme environmentalism does look a bit like an ersatz Earth religion, with humans as the poisonous intruders who shouldn't be here. But why do social and religious conservatives so often fall in line with business executives who dismiss all environmentalists as wackos?

Hippie horror. One reason is that environmentalism rose out of the same 1960s agitation that social conservatives believe was so ruinous to the general culture. Some environmentalists give the impression that the movement is simply part of the left, thus managing to alienate potential supporters on the right. This is a major strategic mistake, but an understandable one, given the hostility to the environment that Republicans have exhibited over the past 20 years. And issues of class are a factor, too. Environmentalists tend to be well-off, with the luxury of worrying about the snail darter and the state of the global environment in 2050. When a candidate like Al Gore appears, it is relatively easy for Republicans to connect the dots and associate environmentalism with elite Democratic stances that appall so many conservatives. The result is that on every level, the party with the most social conservatives contains the fewest environmentalists. In Congress, the most notable Republican effort in this field is attaching antienvironmental riders to appropriations bills. Martha Marks, head of REP America, refers to herself as "the president of what a few jokers have called the world's funniest oxymoron: Republicans for Environmental Protection."

The absence of a meaningful environmental constituency explains why it was so easy for the new administration to back off the Kyoto agreement and support drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and (ominously) other wilderness areas. The undermining of Christie Todd Whitman as head of the Environmental Protection Agency apparently began early. Word came she was known around the White House as "Brownie," a sarcastic reference to President Clinton's EPA chief, Carol Browner, who was predictably unpopular among many big-name Republicans. Is this a show of contempt for Whitman, her agency, or both?

Republican antienvironmentalism dates only from the Reagan years. As opinion rose against big government and heavy regulation, particularly in the West, environmental protection was demonized as a symbol of Washington's overbearing power. By the time of Newt Gingrich's poll-tested Contract with America, antienvironmentalism was part of the Republican canon.
Environmental historian William Cronon writes that the contract "came to grief in good measure because most Americans continue to believe that protecting the environment is a good thing." Newt now thinks so, too, and has admitted that Republicans are "malpositioned" on the environment.

George W. Bush is probably too moderate to emerge as a version of the old antienvironmental Newt. But even in narrow partisan terms, the Republicans should be careful. Wirthlin Worldwide, a polling firm associated with Republican causes, reports that "2 out of 3 Americans say we need to protect the environment no matter what it costs." In 1999, Zogby International, another pollster heavily used by the GOP, surveyed probable Republican primary voters in five key states and found about as much support for "protect environment" (92.8 percent) as for "encourage family values" (93.4 percent). And an Environmental Defense Fund poll says that young adults (18 to 25) are "remarkably skeptical" about environmental progress over the past 30 years, with 62 percent believing that conditions are now worse than in 1970. Republicans may count on the old rule of thumb: Everybody supports the environment in polls, but it's nobody's primary concern in the voting booth. But if I were running the party, I don't think I would tie myself closely to the losing side of a broad national argument.

SF Gate
This is the GOP credo: You're either with us 100 percent, or you're a commie hippie homo who should move to France. And there are few things a conservative fears more than being ostracized by the party.

The truth is, no matter which party you align yourself with, nowadays it takes more guts, more outright nerve, to care about this planet, to work to strip your life of the plastic and the poisonous and minimize your waste and your impact, eat more consciously and support local farming and cherish the flora and fauna, than it ever could be to load up the Escalade with Malaysian-made crap you bought at Wal-Mart that's now 89 cents cheaper because it's made in a sweatshop and not at the local factory that was forced to shut down.

This, then, is the ultimate BushCo credo: No sanctity. No reverence for that which is larger and more ancient and more divine. No concern for that which provides beauty and nourishment and sustenance. Mother Nature is not a source of life and inspiration and vital health -- she's just a lowly wench who needs to be put in her place.

And this, then, is the only possible response: If there was any better time in American history to proudly announce yourself as an environmentalist, this is it. It really doesn't matter where you stand on other issues. Because when that beautiful bitch Mother Nature really begins to strike back, nothing else will matter.

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