How we think about the environment and human beings’ place in it can dramatically impact people’s lives through public policy. This becomes evident when it comes to energy development and regulation.
Radical environmental thinking – which values the existence of “soils, waters, plants, and animals”[*] the same as it does human life, and which sees traditional values and human beings generally as the enemies of Mother Nature – holds as its ideal a purely abstract, unrealistic fantasy: a world in which mankind’s existence and activities have no negative impacts on the environment. Hence, the appeal of the radical environmentalists is that we abandon all fossil fuel energy development because of its harms to the environment in favor of “environmentally friendly” renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal power.
Since most people are reasonable enough to recognize that renewable energy can only provide a portion of our energy needs, and that abandoning fossil fuels altogether would severely impact millions of people’s lives, policy progress towards the radical goal of eliminating fossil fuel use has (thankfully) been very slow. What it has created are policies that limit the growth of fossil fuel production as much as possible. It has also led radical environmentalist groups to use legal action as a tool to achieve their utopian dreams, even when new fossil fuel energy production would use cleaner energy sources than we’ve relied on in the past. Read more