ast Wednesday in Sacramento, I was approached on a street corner by an earnest, vaccuous young woman, Greenpeace clipboard in her hand.
“Hi, I’m Willow [or whatever low-carbon name she offered]. Can I talk to you about the danger of global warming?”
“I don’t think so,” I answered. “I’m your worst nightmare.”
Any feelings of guilt over my rudeness that have haunted me since were dismissed upon reading this, from the link-crazed folks at Consumer Freedom:
Greenpeace’s new report on so-called sustainable seafood has just been released and every single supermarket in Canada received a failing grade. Not because fish isn’t essential to a complete and healthy diet. (It is.) Greenpeace flunked every grocery retailer for selling “unsustainable” fish because the group, whose own co-founder has called it “a band of scientific illiterates,” wants to minimize the consumption of all seafood.
Nevermind that most of the seafood that Greenpeace wants off the shelves is in no danger of extinction whatsoever. Pollock, a white fish that is the main component in most supermarket fish sticks, is doing just fine, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. But if Greenpeace’s wishes were granted, pollock — along with more than 50 percent of all seafood sold in United States supermarkets — would be “off limits.
In the Greenpeace view of things, anything man touches is threatened. Cut down a tree to build a house, and all trees are threatened. Drive an SUV and the planet groans. And if we eat any fish at all, then all fish are imperiled. How depressing it must be to be so genus-loathing.
That loathing may be why Greenpeace is trying to deprive humans of the healthy benefits of fish, with its high protein, low bad-fat and rich doses of Omega 3 fatty acids. Or it may be that they’re profoundly ignorant of natural science. Or it may be they believe that nature should provide us with nothing. I wondered about this, about why a young Sacramento woman would sell out her genus to become a human-hating member of Greenpeace, so I looked up the kind of questions environmentalist philosophers ask. And boy, was that illuminating:
Why care about nature “for itself” when only people “matter”? If you deny that “only people matter,” on what grounds can you defend that denial? (After all, if no people are around to regret it, what difference does it make if a species, a valley, or even a planet is destroyed? If people who are around prefer to destroy natural objects and landscapes, then so what? Why not?[)]
When species or landscapes or wilderness areas are destroyed, what, of value, is lost to mankind?
Will future generations “miss” what we have “taken from them”? (How could they if they never will know what they have “lost”?)
“Should Trees Have [Legal] Standing?” On what grounds, if not for mankind’s sake?
Does “land ownership” make moral sense, or is it a morally absurd and repugnant concept?
Do human beings have a need for nature that implies an obligation to preserve it? What is the evidence for this?
What are the ultimate grounds of an affirmation to protect the environment? Are they rational? Irrational? Non- rational? Mystical?
What, basically, is wrong with the developer’s anthropocentric and utilitarian land ethic? Why not treat land as a “commodity” rather than a “community”?
Do future generations (who, after all, do not exist now) have a “right” now to a clean and natural environment when their time comes?
Can man “improve” upon nature? How? What constitutes “improvement”?
Do the facts of environmental science have moral implications?
Are human beings psychologically capable of caring for nature and for future generations? If they have this capacity, are we morally obligated to nurture it?
Do you get the sense that the professor who teaches from this syllabus, one C D Sebastian Ph D [no periods, please; they're so wasteful!], will answer every question logically answered “yes” with a “no” and visa versa? Do you suspect that he will grant man little credit for getting things right, for searching out viable compromises instead of running endlessly to extremes? Do you suspect he would ever acknowledge that his questions are useless, since man has co-existed successfully with the planet and will continue to do so long after C D Sebastian’s existence is forgotten? Do you think C D would ever forgive me if he is a she, not a he?
But in college classrooms throughout the nation, these questions are being asked and man is endlessing coming out the loser in this game of 20 Questions. And the kids who graduate from these classes then find “meaningful” jobs (rather than productful ones) teaching the next generation of kids the same hooey.
And they pass by those packages of protein-packed haddock, opting instead for tasteless tofu made from soybeans that screamed with pain when picked from the motherplant, and shrieked again when tossed without so much as a prayer for their departing souls into boiling water. You don’t believe me that soybeans are sentient? Who cares? I feel that way so it must be true. Can I talk to you about the danger of global warming?