This article is entirely opinion. I make that clear at the beginning. It started off as a little bit of hyperbole in "Gas-Guzzler?" considering the "Aniti's" constant tirades against 4x4's and cars in general, and grew from there. I then lost the working of those edits in one of my major PC disasters, so the page has sat here a while, but the opinion that SHOULD have been in it, has been spread about the various message boards, in the ubiquitous Teflon Mega-Sound-Byte, and I have finally decided to pull it all together into some sort of order, and give MY personal take on the constant barrage of Eco-Opinion and thinking.
Evolution of the Eco-Warrior
The Eco debate has been going on since I was a small child, and the Environmental movement was one in which I was raised.
If we look back, at the topic of "Environmental" Awareness, and Environmental Campaigning, we can trace roots back to the mid to late 1800's, and most obviously 'causes' fought in the USA, most significantly in the pioneering western states, between settlers and native Indians, and miners or strip loggers, which show clearly the battle lines between the 'free' individual or public, and big business, that has perpetuated ever since.
I don't want to go deeply into the history of it all; it didn't all start in the Wild-West, though popular US TV, of the 1970's & 80's like little house on the Prairie, Grizzly Adams or Dr WatsHername, Medicine Woman, would have you believe so. Similar sorts of controversies were being raged over similar issues in Europe too, though they weren't as clear cut, and often incorporated other social issues as well.
As far as modern environmentalism goes, it really acquired some sort of popular support and attention in the 1960's and in consequence is still very much perceived as a 'Hippy' cause, and all part of the peace love and understanding ideal of the 1960's 'youth' movement.
That is very simplistic, and denies the very concerned work that that movement latched on to and promoted, that had gone before, but, it is as good a place to begin as any.
The issues of the day, the contentions that the Hippies were concerned with were numerous; it was the height of the cold war, and nuclear proliferation, and the threat of the 'balloon going up' was a very real and very severe one. The USA were fighting the Vietnam war, and seeking to stem the tide of Communist insurgence around the 'free' world, by backing any 'anti-communist' regime, or marching their own troops in to actually fight communist junta, as they did in Vietnam.
This did little to allay fears of Nuclear holocaust; but it was the re-introduction of the 'draft' or conscription in the USA that really did the most to bring America's popular attention to the rest of the world, and 'Youth' issues in general, and fuel the 'Hippy Movement' and all the issues it was campaigning against.
War, the draft & Nuclear proliferation were the main issues; but political, religious and spiritual tolerance were others; along with ecology, the environment, and the social order of the world.
Now, with SO MUCH to rally against, it's virtually impossible to consider or chronicle what was the 'Hippy Cause' or identify any individual doctrine or philosophy within it; they were so many, and so differently presented or fought and intertwined, it would be like stirring a barrel of eels and trying to tell some-one each eels individual name...... its like a slithering slimy tangled mass of ethics and issues impossible to untangle or make much sense of.
So, boiling it down; what you have as 'environmentalism' is almost like 'religion'; its a concept, and you can define it pretty much as you see fit, and chose those ideas you prefer from them.
I have made the comparison MANY times, but 'environmentalism' as a political tool, is very much like religion, and just as politicians have used the contrary and perverse 'teachings' of holy prophets or Guru's as tools to influence the populous, so to, do many people attempt to apply environmental teaching in the same manner.
And here, I will point out that I have absolutely NO tolerance for political perversion of worthy thought or thinking, be it religious, be it philosophical or be it 'environmental'.
My Environmental 'Indoctrination'
My childhood, was significantly influenced by 'Hippy Students' in the 1970s' who were my parents or their friends, or just the people around me. My father was a student Doctor, and my Mother a student biology teacher. Particularly in my mothers classmates were the people who were concerned about salmon migration, and the effects of mercury in the water supply and that sort of thing, whilst my fathers friends were worried about e-numbers in food, and how life-style effected our health, and stuff like that.
After school, as a ten year-old, I remember quite vividly being watched over, in a Friends of the Earth 'Co-Operative Heath Food Warehouse' while my mum was still at work, and before she came over to collect me, and help out with some of the admin, with other volunteers.
In those days, I had a lot of regard for a lot of what people in the movement were trying to achieve; That Co-Operative, was set up, in order to get unadulterated food that hadn't been machine processed and stuffed full of artificial preservatives, and distribute it to people that other wise couldn't get it. And in that it was not unlike the original Co-Operative movement of the 1800's. It was real, it was tangible, it was practical, but more importantly, it served a purpose.
They were also trying to put together recycling schemes and promote the use of recycled paper and glass, and limit reliance on mineral fuels and plastics; they were encouraging the planting of trees, and campaigning against de-forestation and unnecessary urbanisation and development. They were all, I seem to recall, very concerned about plans to drain Mosley Bog in Birmingham.
There was very much a spirit of 'People against the Powers' and a battle line between the environmentally enlightened thinkers and campaigners, and the political and commercial powers of the time, and AT THAT TIME, quite a lot of it was valid and worthy.
The social upheaval being searched for, the new order, was not coming, there was social unrest. It was no longer just a bunch of whacked out students high on 'dope' moaning about some point of ethics; things were coming apart at the seams, and in the UK, we had strikes, scandals and civil disorder, the like of which that had not been seen.
Heat of the 80's
This would have been around 1981; It had not been long since we had had Profumo & Watergate, rocking our faith in 'the establishment'. We had had Wilson's labour government, and the 'Winter of Discontent', with power black-outs; the Suez crisis, OPEC embargo's on oil quota's; fuel price hikes, and an awful lot of 'Union Trouble'. While the IRA were stepping up their campaign of terror in main-land Britain. Unemployment was rife, inflation was chronic, and people WERE on the point of revolt!
1977, in Britain, the Queen's Silver Jubilee year, it was one of the longest hottest summers in living memory, I remember watching them fry an egg on a pavement on TV! and things were starting to boil over. Protests and civil unrest, lead to heavy handed 'police intervention', and were dismissed on the news as 'isolated trouble-makers'.
By 1979, the scale of disturbances were getting bigger and bigger, and the rioters more organised. Maggie Thatcher, was taking matters by the scruff of the neck, and taking a hard line, making the protests even more dramatic. The miners strike was about to happen, but meanwhile she was happy to play 'hardball' with the car workers.
The IRA stepped up their campaign of bombing to unprecedented levels. World War II style posters and 'propaganda' campaigns were launched to increase our awareness of unattended luggage and suspicious packages. Letter boxes were 'plated' to stop anything thicker than 1/4" being posted in them, and for the FIRST TIME overtly armed police were seen on streets in Main-Land Britain.
The SHOCK of these changes and upheavals on British Society were huge, and they were dramatic; in little more than ten years, we went from a 'quaint', trusting, naive, community orientated society, to the insular, suspicious one we have today. When I was a child, you spoke to the Post Office clerk over the counter; when the 'security screens' went up in the post office, THAT was really the day, we put the screens up around our 'faith' in human nature!
The Brixton, Hansworth & Toxteth riots fermented in that atmosphere, with people, for the first time openly rioting on the streets of mainland Britain, and while the media peddled the notion that it was 'Urban Unrest' in 'Under-Privileged Ethnic Populations' that were at the heart of the disturbances, look at the footage of those incidents and you'll see faces of all colours.
And check out the Pop Charts; they were important back then, before seventy three channels of '24hr on demand' TV; We had 'The Clash', predicting the Brixton Riots with 'Guns of Brixton', or 'Clampdown'. UB40, singing about the 'One in Ten', and the Specials ruing the 'Ghost-Town'. As the Punks rocked up the lazy rifts of Reggee and sold the idea of civil unrest to white middle class kids, and in the back-streets, Ska, and Soul were fused into 'Two-Tone'.
Worried about 'Hoodies', dissatisfied kids moping about in baggies, hanging out on street corners and parks? And modern 'Gang Culture', kids with knives and guns?
Well cast your mind back, if you can to the 1980's, because back THEN, without CCTV, mobile 'phones, and police helicopters, the streets WERE ruled by the gangs, of which the cops were just another 'mob'!
No? Well, it was the 'Sweenie' era, and the police were thugs in uniform, beating confessions out of prisoners, with a code of silence like the mafia, and protected by similar secret societies, with funny hand-shakes. Remember now?
It wasn't until the latter half of the decade, when Maggie had bought the working class vote, by selling them 'capitalism' on the back of heavily discounted 'right to buy' council houses, and the 'housing boom', Yuppie Culture, and low interest rates saw increased affluence and some easement of people's discontent.
'Peace Breaks Out'
As I reached my formative years and entered university in the early 1990's, there was a general acceptance that the world HAD to change; we had Glasnost, and then the Berlin wall came down, and in the wake of German Re-Unification, they voted in their Green-Party.
The 'Fringes' became main-stream, and recycling skips sprang up in every supermarket car-park; supermarkets started advertising 'organic' vegetables and flavoured pop bottles started displaying such slogans as 'No Artificial Colourings or Preservatives'...........
In the 60's, 70's & early 80's, environmentalism, was just ONE area of a whole bag of social reforms being demanded within 'youth culture', that stood divided against the 'establishment'.
As the 'youths' of the 60's & 70's BECAME the establishment, the battle lines became less and less clear. And as 'Environmentalism' hit the main-stream, the 'message' if there ever WAS a message, seemed to get slightly lost.
Suddenly, after nearly twenty years of battling against the ills of the 'Capitalist Consumer Culture', the reformists suddenly started making huge advances, ESPECIALLY in areas of 'Environmental Concern'.
BUT, as the campaign gained momentum, it became a run-away train, and once the 'establishment' had accepted environmental and social enlightenment, quickly became a sledge hammer to crack a nut! This is the opinion I share significantly with Bjorn Lomborg, The sceptical environmentalist.
I mean, great, the 'cause' variously brought down the Iron Curtain, saw mass Nuclear de-commissioning; international treaties against dumping toxic waste in the sea, the trade in endangered species, recognition of the Bill of Human Rights, and embargoes on food additives. And having made those great laps, was left looking for new battles to fight.
And, I'm SORRY, but while I MIGHT have had SOME time for the Greenham Common Peace Protesters, in the 80's, I did NOT have any time for 'Swampy' and his pals protesting the building of a bloomin By-Pass!
For a start, there were very valid social and ecological reasons for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, based on sound social reasoning and scientific fact. Bombs kill people, which isn't nice. Nuclear ones, EVERYTHING, for hundreds of miles, AND for thousands of years!
There was absolutely NO reasoned political or ecological argument behind Swampies by-pass campaign! Basically, they didn't want the road built, and argued it was 'destroying' an important 'Natural' Habitat. The idea that the environmental 'impact' of building that road MIGHT have been actually LESS detrimental to the wider environment, and society in general, than cross town congestion, was summarily dismissed.
And when the protesters started boobie trapping the site with propane canister mines, I'm sorry, but for ME that really blew the movement's credibility.
It had been polarising between the 'Moderates' and the 'Hard-Liners' for a long while, but that really demarked where the hard-liners had aligned themselves with the lunatic fringe, and the 'campaign' had become little more than a thinly veiled attack on social values, hiding behind 'acceptable' pseudo environmental causes.
And a new 'Doctrine' was born, 'Political Correctness', and the onslaught of Orwellian 'Thought Police', the complete antithesis of what the social reformers had, for over a hundred years been trying explicitly to abolish!
As I said at the beginning, its a barrel of slippery slimy eels, from which you can pick and choose almost at random the bits you want it to mean or not mean. Fundamentally, environmentalism is having an awareness and respect for the planet, and the other life-forms we share it with........
I am NOT by that definition an Environmentalist, because there are very many life forms I would rather NOT have to share this planet with.......... and a LOT of them spout an awful lot of rubbish, claiming it to be in the name of 'Environmentalism'!?!?
Because, some-where along the line, the success of the environmental lobby, when they were promoting real and worthy causes, and fighting against prevailing social and commercial attitudes that really did NOT have any environmental awareness, has gained an impetus like a run away steam roller, and having achieved almost everything the cause could have hoped for twenty years ago, and more, it's carried on, campaigning for campaigning sake.
And unfortunately, what 'environmentalism' has become, is NOT a reasoned campaign against the damage to our planet, but a very UNREASONED onslaught against consumerism in general, of which the car is a very significant target.
We live in a consumer society; our lives are almost entirely dictated by economics and market forces; and our credit rating and spending power is probably more influential than our political inclinations or affiliations.
Some-what ironically, it was recognised within the environmental movement, that its greatest strength was in influencing peoples spending. Probably the most publicised campaign being the 'Don't buy Tuna' campaign of the 1980's when it was brought to the media attention that Dolphins were being drowned by commercial Tuna fishing; and the quickest way to get the 'industry' to change its ways was to threaten its revenues, buy getting people to simply stop buying the tuna they sold.
It's no co-incidence then that the Environmental lobby, significantly has targeted women and children in its campaigning; recognising that it is usually the mother that actually governs where and when most of a families weekly 'spend' is used, and that it is the children that most influence the mother.
Think about it; Dad does big things like car, mortgage and gas bill. He might choose the TV when it comes to one, but it is Mum, that decides whether to buy Heinz Baked Beans or Cross & Blackwell, and it's Mum that will look at the labels on the spaghetti wrappers to see what kind of flour its made from.
And targeting women and children, has been very successful in promoting the cause, not least because of the inherent influence they have, but also how they can be influenced.
Men, pretty simple creatures, tend to look at things pretty simplistically. Choice between two cars. Ok, which is the faster, or which is the cheaper. Can I afford the faster one? No, OK, I buy the cheaper. Woman choosing between two cars..... first thing they ask is 'What colour is it?'
Women, tend to respond to emotive arguments, men tend to respond to logical ones. In environmental campaigning, there is a lot to get emotive about, a lot of fears that can be spread to get people worried or angry, or play on their emotions, NOT their logic.
"The WORLD'S ABOUT TO END"....... gets you a bit worried, really doesn't it; you don't immediately ask WHY its going to end, you just start worrying whether it might, and what you want or need to do before it does!
It's marketing. Selling cars, you KNOW that the person buying a Frontera 'sport' doesn't need a rugged off-road vehicle...... (or he'd be buying a Land-Rover!), but pretty easy to convince him to buy a big SUV over a 'boring' family estate, by appealing to his ego, and telling him how much more 'exiting' or 'sexy' it would make him...........
OK, so MEN don't ALWAYS look at things rationally, and CAN be JUST as influenced by emotive argument as women......... but buying a car, they STILL look at the price before the colour!
And it sickens me when my eight year old daughter comes home, and tells me "cars are killing the planet! Teacher Says so!"
The indoctrination is starting in primary schools, with the environmental 'arguments' and theories, dished out AS FACTS!
I actually find it slightly more worrying, that the barely post teen-age teacher, spouting this rubbish, is no more aware of the issues than she's made my daughter...... and CAN'T accept that the 'education reforms' implemented since 'O-Levels' were replaced by GCSE's have NOT seen standards fall to subterranean levels since I was at university.... but then I think that's the subject for another 'rant!
Point is, that the 'message' of 'Political Correctness & Environmental Awareness' is being thought to young children, by people of trust and authority, as 'prescribed wisdom', such that it will become 'accepted fact', whether it is or not.
Like the 'flat earth'. As long as enough people believe it, any-one that challenges the idea, will be cast as the heretic or lunatic, and it becomes that much MORE difficult to challenge or correct the false theories!
So environmentalism sells, and feeding peoples environmental awareness and perpetuating their environmental paranoia, is a VERY useful tool of control, JUST like the bible was and the puritanical preaching of the 16th & 17th Century, and the witch hunts borne of them.
Only in the case of environmentalism, there is no fixed doctrine like the ten commandments or the Gospels! And what argument and debate there is, is all subject to scientific scrutiny
Or at least SHOULD be.
There's a thing called Hypocritical Analysis; it is the founding principle of scientific theory, and logic; It's a principle provided by a Greek philosopher, Hypocrites, about three thousand years ago.
Principle goes something like this; you have an idea, you want to see if your idea has merit or 'truth' in it, so you formulate you 'Hypothesis' then to 'test' your hypothesis, you try and disprove it. If you CANT then it is PROBABLY true.
Sound reasonable? Think about it.
It's actually where the word 'Hypocrite' comes from, because of the perversion of trying to prove you are correct, by attempting to argue the contrary of what you think or believe.
Scientifically, it is very sensible, and in LOGICAL and I stress the word LOGICAL situations, it CAN work very well. But it is flawed. And it is flawed in two ways.
Proving the 'opposite' of something to be false, doesn't ALWAYS prove that something is right. This is the paradox of most conspiracy theories.
Lets take the Kennedy assassination; Lets say I thought that JFK was assassinated by the CIA. By Hypocritical Analysis, to PROVE JFK was shot by the CIA, I would attempt to prove that he was NOT shot by the CIA, and by failing to prove that he WASN'T the inference must be that he was....... right?
Yeah........ doesn't work, does it? I might be very successful in failing to prove that he WASN'T shot by the CIA. Failing to prove he was shot by the CIA DOESN'T prove that he WAS! It JUST proves I FAILED to prove he wasn't!
Proving that something is NOT true, doesn't directly prove that the opposite is True, it merely IMPLIES that the opposite is true, therefore it remains UNPROVEN, but simply more likely.
Which ACTUALLY is a significant part of Hypocrites own discourse on his philosophy?!?!?!?
Yeah, makes my brain hurt too!
BUT, thing is, its a very useful tool, and Hypocritical Analysis can be used very successfully to consider an entirely emotive and unreasoned argument, and suggest that it has a sound logical basis, when in fact, it doesn't.
Back to that JFK conspiracy theory; It's suggest hat the CIA killed Kennedy. So you test the theory by looking for proof or evidence, and fail. So a revision to the theory is made to explain the lack of evidence, and it's suggested that Kennedy was killed by the CIA, who instigated a big 'cover-up'.
Great; so, IF there was a 'cover-up', apply Hypocritical Analysis to that; try and prove that there was an assassination by the CIA, and a CIA cover-up, by disproving that there wasn't! You find NO evidence of a cover up. What have you proved?
That there was a cover up, and it worked really well, so your theory MUST be true? OR that there was no cover up, therefore no assassination? No, you have, again, merely proved YOU CANT FIND ANY EVIDENCE!
But, omit THAT option from your 'findings' and merely present the 'theory' and the 'suggestions' you would like to infer from your investigation, testing that theory, and you can present something that SEEMS to prove just about anything you damn well want, irrespective of the 'facts'!
It is 'Opinion' masquerading as 'Proof', and while Hypocritical Analysis isn't the only way to dress opinion as 'fact', its an often used one, and is another significant 'tool' of the environmental campaigner. It is not about facts or truth, but about the presentation and perception of fears.
Now, if the issue at hand is a reasonable one, I can forgive some-one with the passion for their cause, exploiting such tools to achieve their ends.
Which is a little Machiavellian ethics; 'The End justifies the Means'...... only I don't subscribe to that. The end does NOT justify the means, the BEGINNING justifies the means AND the end, and only if your BEGINNING is ethical and morally justifiable, can you morally promote your cause.
At the very beginning, by my top level description of environmentalism, promoting an awareness and respect for the planet, and the other life-forms we share it with, is a reasonable, and morally justifiable cause.
But there is a BIG difference between having an awareness of our environment and the other organisms we share it with, and how we may interact with them.
And THAT is a BIG issue I have with a lot of environmentalists.
And I am going to mention Darwin's 'Origin of Species'
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882). a natural historian, published his theories in various instalments from 1859, key to which is his theory of 'natural selection'. As with a lot of panicle works, a lot of the Genius is lost in the manifold selective quotations and précis of the original message.
Repeating the concept of Darwin's theory, in potted form, the idea is that species 'evolve' through subtle mutations from generation to generation. Mutations that provide advantage to the species survive, mutations that don't, lead to extinction, and through the mechanism, species adapt themselves to their environment or become extinct.
A few important comments on Darwin's theory; first of all, when published it he was acclaimed a heretic, denying God, and was the controversy of the century. Next, his theory remained just that, a theory; he provided no categorical proof, either direct or hypocritical, and while Darwin's ideas have, in the last century and a half attained almost universal acceptance, they REMAIN purely theoretical.
In nearly a hundred and fifty years, the weight of research and evidence following Darwin's published findings, ideas and theories, has mounted up inordinately. The discovery of DNA in 1953 by Watson & Crick, and the subsequent science of genetics based upon adds significant weight to Darwin's theories.
BUT; the concept of natural selection remains merely a concept; a hypothesis that has been shown to be incredibly plausible and likely to be true, by Hypocritical analysis, but NOT proven fact. A point of scientific semantics, but an important one.
So, as far as environmentalism is concerned; what are we, man-kind, if not merely another species of mammal, that has been rather more adept at evolution than others?
If we accept Darwinian principle, and the notion that evolution is a natural process, and that the extinction of redundant species is a part of that process, when it comes to our environment, and particularly the question of conservation, we have a quandary.
If we attempt to preserve a species from extinction, is our interference actually a positive laudable act? Or is it an abhorrent impingement on a natural process?
Ethics, Scientific Knowledge & Sentimentality
They have quangoes and think-tanks, and monotorium on this sort of thing, where the most developed and respected intellects in the world cant find any answers, so I'm sure as fleck not going to try here! But, being disabled, has given me the opportunity to reflect a little on the conundrums of life, and distil and clarify some of my thoughts on the matter.
I am inclined to consider myself a fairly rational and reasonable person, as most, I suppose, would. But I do have the peculiar qualification of having legal 'findings of fact' issued on my psychology, a consequence of the protracted child care hearings following the breakdown of my marriage. I am a 'Pedant', a bit of a 'perfectionist' and a stickler for accuracy, which after lengthy 'expert testimony' was distilled as 'You mean, he's a bit of an anorak'! I pondered the notion a little, and ultimately I suppose, I have to agree! Well, just look at this ruddy site! How much nit-picking detail do you need?.... That's rhetorical! You DON'T have to hit the 'mail-me' button and send me your answer, OK!?
Anyway, get into this topic of 'Ethics' with regard to Scientific Knowledge, and you can VERY quickly find yourself contemplating God! Which is a VERY illogical thing to do.... as one comedian described it:-
If I said I had an imaginary friend named George, I talked to, and who I sought for guidance when it came to important decisions, a man with a clip-board would be asking some very pertinent questions about 'the voices' in my head, before the men in white coats carted me off to the funny farm.
But if ten million of us, all agree we have the SAME imaginary friend, and call him GOD....... well, then that's OK. More than OK. Our leaders can go have a word with their imaginary friend, and when two of them disagree, because ONE leader says that HIS imaginary friend says he likes to be remembered by having you kneel down five times a day, facing Mecca.... and ANOTHER leader says that HIS imaginary friend prefers to be remembered by having you drink a glass of wine and munch a wafer...... Well, that's a perfectly ETHICAL reason for those two leaders to send the rest of us to war against each other, isn't it?!
Now MY imaginary friend, says we should all ride motorbikes....... without a helmet........ whilst listening to 'uplifting' rock music..... So, if I can JUST get a few million others to agree with me............ Err, yeah! Think we ought to get back to Darwin, and Co!
OK, so I am told, by my eight year old daughter, because her Teacher has thought her so, so it HAS to be absolute truth, doesn't it?..... That driving my car, makes pollution, and that's causing global warming, which is melting the polar ice-caps, killing the polar bears and seals......
Absolute cods-wallop, but lets look at the reasoning; First of all, there is NO categorical 'Proof' that carbon-di-oxide emissions are the 'cause' of global warming.
Back to the ideas of Hypocritical Analysis; given the complexities of the subject, its impossible to find definite proof on what causes global warming. Fer gawd-sake they cant even predict whether it will rain tomorrow accurately! Given that basic vagary, do you REALLY think that they have the science of chaos theory so well hacked that they can predict the weather for the next thousand bloomin years?!?!?
So, its a matter of probabilities and opinion, NOT fact. Plenty of opinion & 'Theory' on the matter, and the most widely accepted, and acceptable one is that man-made CO2 emissions at WORST are merely a 'contributing factor' to Global warming.
Next, if we accept that man-made, Carbon-Di-Oxide Emissions 'contribute' to Global Warming, then before we can blame 'the car' let alone MY individual car, pottering about Warwickshire, how MUCH of 'man-made CO2' comes from 'The Car'. In the UK, ABOUT 5%!
Break down world wide CO2 emissions, and the UK's ENTIRE annual emissions are less than the annual increase in emissions China has each year.
Ie; if we managed to reduce our emissions to ZERO immediately, not the 40% reduction over ten years promised by Kyoto, it would have less effect than China just NOT building any more power stations!
On that scale of things, 'The Car' is NOT a very large 'contributing factor' to global CO2 emissions, and a virtually NEGLIGIBLE factor in the influence that has over global warming!
And the Polar Bears? What about them? Having ascertained that driving my car is doing about as MUCH to harm their habitat as writing this is to stop the tide of politically correct indoctrination going on in our schools.........
They're all going to die? Yeah, pity that. always looked so cute in the Foxes Glacier mint advert, but hey, all living things die, we cant be TOO sentimental about it.
Extinction. All of them. Polar Bears, gone, no more. Defunct, extinct, never to be seen again. A race annihilated. Do I not think that's bad?
Well, yeah, BUT, THAT'S Evolution in action, isn't it? I mean, it's not like it's the first time a species has become extinct? Do we still have Diplodocus or Tyrannosaurus-Rex roaming our forests? No. The Dinosaurs all died out, however million years ago, making way for new species to evolve. That's the way nature works.
Global Warming, end of the last ice age did the same thing to the woolly mammoth, the sabre-tooth-tiger, and the Oryx, amongst others, including I believe Neanderthal man, a cousin of ours in the evolutionary chain, that until climate changed the habitat to better favour Homo-Erectus, was actually the more 'dominant' specie of evolved primates.
So, having established that I am NOT making the polar bears extinct by driving my car, what do you want me to do? Fair enough IF I HAD been harming them, then, ethically, yes, just cause to suggest I should stop whatever activity was harming them. But I'm NOT doing anything to harm them, so WHAT exactly do you want me to do?
'Preserve' them? OK, so if I cant stop doing something to stop harming, and you don't want me to do nothing, then the only alternative is to actively do 'something'
What 'something' would you suggest? Their 'natural' habitat is declining, 'naturally', do you want me to step in, and try and 'un-naturally' intervene in a natural process? Is that ethical?
Sure, we COULD 'Save' the Polar Bear; create sanctuaries, refrigerate bits of Canada or something to make an 'artificial' environment. But exactly WHAT would that serve?
It's PURE sentimentality! Worse, its shear ARROGANCE!
I am a human; an elevated primate, with the capacity of technology, that I can utilise to adapt my environment to suit my needs, rather than having to rely on evolution to adapt my anatomy to suit my environment. (The very function, that has allowed OUR species to survive so well in so many environments, as well as natural changes to them!)
That evolutionary preparation has given me the imagination to conceive 'the car' and more, the dexterity to find the materials I need to make one! And yes, I could utilise that same ability to save the Polar bear, or any number of other endangered species, but that 'intervention' is JUST as unnatural as building a car.
But, intervening in the destiny of other species, for good or bad, presumes a right or duty to do so......
Two hundred years ago, we, as a society PRESUMED that all the 'lesser' life on this planet was placed here by our common imaginary friend, God, to serve us in some way. That 'thinking' is now considered arrogant, and presumptuous, and we are educated to show 'consideration' for our fellow life-forms, and more, pay them the duty of serving them! Isn't that 'inversion' just as morally reprehensible?
WHO exactly placed these rights or duties upon us?
Look at nature, where species co-exist, they are in conflict or symbiosis. There is a 'food-chain'. Some life forms are predatory, they fed on other life forms, killing them to do so. Some life forms are parasitic; they fed on other life forms WITHOUT killing them. Some life forms are symbiotic, one feeds the other, without either killing either. It's about harmony, and balance. When the drought comes, animals die. When the floods come, crops grow.
Nature, is everything, life and death, balance and imbalance, conflict and harmony, constancy and change, it accommodates all.
Technology & Nature
So, as an evolved primate with the faculty of 'Technology', we can do things that are pretty remarkable, no other species could accomplish, like build a pyramid, or invent self chilling cola! But the limit of OUR ability is still pretty darn pathetic compared to that of Nature.
OK, you want to give the credit to your imaginary friend, fair enough; either way, look at how long it took us, man to make a light we could switch on or off? How many millennia since we first started bashing rocks together? There have been squid in the sea that could do that billions of years ago! I think, nature, or your imaginary friend has something of a rather large 'head-start' on us, when it comes to innovation!
So, yeah, OK what we CAN do is pretty incredible, but..... Just because we CAN do something, what is it that says it's a good idea?
I mean, I COULD probably climb mount Everest, but just because I COULD, doesn't mean I SHOULD. Fatigues example; clambering to the top of a big hill, probably doesn't achieve anything, but there's probably not a lot of harm in it, either.
I'm an engineer, a technologist, where technology is the application of knowledge to a practical purpose. Science is technical knowledge, technology applied science, and we talk, in engineering of two types of technology, 'Push' technology, and 'Pull' technology.
'Pull' Technology, is where we have a problem, and look to science to find a solution to that problem. Its the adage 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention' 'Push' Technology, is where we make an observation, or discovery, and then go look for a practical purpose we can set it to.
James Watt, is credited with the invention of the modern steam engine, and the legend is he watched a kettle boiling and the steam push the lift off it, until it could escape, then the lid drop back until it built up pressure to do it again, and had the thought, 'I wonder if I can harness that motion?' Bit more too it than that, and people like, but Watt put steam in a cylinder and got it to shove a piston up and down.
There wasn't much 'Need' for him to 'invent' the steam engine; it went on to power the industrial revolution, giving us the steam pump for deep mining, then the rotary engine to drive machinery, and ultimately the steam locomotive.
But, in it's first incarnation, it was a 'Push' technology. People had been happily using donkeys to turn pumping equipment; water wheels to drive machinery, and boats or wagons to shift cargo. Watts engine just happened to find a use that proved popular and have a lot of potential, at the right time.