Thrawn Rickle 55

It’s not easy being green…

© 1994 Williscroft

Do you remember the Exxon Valdez? Captain Hazelwood and Exxon have just been slapped by a federal jury with civil penalties of several hundred millions of dollars for their alleged part in the Prince William Sound oil spill. It has been some time now, but a jury of Captain Hazelwood’s peers found him not guilty of criminal negligence or wrongdoing. If they were right, and they usually are, then who is guilty? What’s this all about?

Perhaps that isn’t the right question. Is it Exxon?

Despite the noises made by almost every “environmentally concerned group,” perhaps that isn’t the right question either.

Back in March, 1978, the Amoco Cadiz foundered on the rocks about a mile off the northwestern coast of France. 223,000 tons of crude oil spilled into the North Atlantic, fouling the shoreline with six times more oil than resulted from the Exxon Valdez spill. This oil covered oyster and mussel beds and lobster pounds. What wasn’t killed outright was unmarketable.

Three years later there was no apparent damage left. Commercial fishing was in full swing. Five years later nature had taken its full course. Today it is as if the oil spill had never happened.

Shortly after the spill in Prince William Sound, one news report described it as the worst man-made disaster since the bombing of Hiroshima. (Really, now. . .) The Prince William Sound spill was far smaller than the French spill, much more confined, and clean-up was addressed much more quickly and with greater efficiency.

This notwithstanding, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and other groups pounced on the obvious villains, focusing their anger on Exxon and Captain Hazelwood. Headlines ranted against the huge, faceless, greedy corporation—the ogre that fouled the precious environment to save a few pennies on substandard ships and captains. They even organized cut-ins where everyone cut up their Exxon credit cards. They laid plans to bring about the indictment of corporate officers on criminal charges. It became the media event of the year.

Immediately after the Prince William Sound spill, the Coast Guard requested that Captain Hazelwood remain aboard his ship to supervise the ballasting of the Exxon Valdez to minimize the spill. I would interpret that to mean that the Coast Guard judged the captain competent. Had he been intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated or even appeared so, I do not believe the Coast Guard would have requested his assistance.

The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company operates the oil terminal in Valdez. This company was formed by seven oil-producing firms. Fifty percent is owned by British Petroleum through BP Pipelines, which controls the company and is responsible for its operations. Sometime before the spill, Alyeska removed 36 tons of clean-up equipment from the response barge and stowed it ashore. All decisions concerning clean-up equipment, its maintenance and stowage, were made in London by BP, not by Exxon.

Where was the Coast Guard monitoring of this equipment (its legal mandate)?

Where was the State of Alaska’s monitoring presence, since it has a huge stake in safe and proper operation of the whole related system?

Exxon went far beyond the requirement of the situation. The men running this corporation sensed how the wind was blowing and made practical decisions. They spent more on the initial cleanup than the annual budget of several nations. Exxon deserves praise and respect for its actions following the spill, especially in light of who really carried the responsibility for what actually happened. The civil penalties now being levied against Hazelwood and Exxon are outrageous examples of how justice can be miscarried when emotion overcomes logic, and opinion replaces fact.

Perhaps we need to examine more closely the motives of the naysayers. The news media reaction was knee-jerk as always—this requires no astute insight. The environmental groups who so cold-bloodedly attacked Exxon and Captain Hazelwood, however, may have been following an agenda that was established well before the Prince William Sound spill.

We should examine this idea more closely.

“It’s not easy being green,” crooned Kermit to an entire generation of tykes. Columnist Alston Chase quotes a German Green politician: “Grass-roots democracy sounded wonderful before we were elected to Parliament. But now that we are in power, centralized solutions seem far more effective.”

“Green” is an idea whose time has come. It is impossible today to find a politician who will disavow “the environment.” The typical attitude is to decry radical actions by fringe greens while giving lip service to their so-called underlying principles. Is “Green,” as Time Magazine says, merely that “... our stand on the planet is that we support its survival...”?

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Or is there something behind the rhetoric of survival, beyond the National Wildlife calendars, beneath movie-star environmental protests?

In Reason, Virginia Postrel quotes David Brower, whom she considers to be the “Archdruid” of the American environmental movement: “I founded Friends of the Earth to make the Sierra Club look reasonable. Then I founded Earth Island Institute to make Friends of the Earth look reasonable. Earth First! now makes us look reasonable. We’re still waiting for someone to come along and make Earth First! look reasonable.” (Earth First! is the group responsible for spiking trees, sabotaging logging equipment, and undertaking other terrorist activities in the name of the environment.)

Wendell Berry, an eloquent agrarian admired by greens, writes: “In living in the world by his own will and skill, the stupidest peasant or tribesman is more competent than the most intelligent workers or technicians or intellectuals in a society of specialists.” Stephanie Mills, the green journalist, puts it this way: “[Recreation activities of young moderns] may not cultivate the endurance necessary for the kind of labor required to dismantle industrial society and restore the Earth’s productivity.” (...dismantle industrial society and restore the Earth’s productivity...?) Elsewhere she writes, “The ecofascist in me finds it hard to trust even the outcome of a democratic process...” (...eco-fascist...?) She goes on to imply that the only way to save the Earth is for an elite group of biology-smart ecologists to rule the rest of us with benevolent firmness. She concludes that a major element in bringing this about is that private ownership of land must be totally abolished.

Is this beginning to sound familiar?

The Greens are a loosely knit group of people that is being led by a smaller cadre of ideologues who got their social science from Marx and their physical science from science popularizers. They have built an anti-freedom, anti-democratic, anti-science world view on this.

From Marx they learned about the collective, the dialectic, and centralized control, without understanding the lessons from current history. From the life sciences they learned about a connection between chemicals and cancer, without understanding the nature of minute dangers and minuscule concentrations. From physics they learned that reality is not always what it seems to be, and drew misinformed analogies to eastern mysticism that reinforced their radically subjective and intuitive approach to deep ecology. From a marriage of Marxist theory and a misunderstanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy in the universe never increases, they developed a political-economic system incorporating no private land ownership and never expending energy. From a misapplication of quantum physics they derived a new world order that denies the cause and effect of market economics. From ecologists they gained a superficial understanding of the oneness of global processes and the living earth. Out of metaphor they created reality: the living earth became a goddess.

The common thread within the green movement is “stasis,” or “sustainability” in their jargon. Their earth doesn’t change; it shows little or no effect from human activity. They want to destroy human infrastructure—our markets, our cities, our communication networks, the very essence that makes us human. They propose to limit human movement by curtailing modern communication methods and modern transportation. According to green prophet E.F. Schumacher, the ideal world is where people are “...relatively immobile... [where] the movement of populations, except in periods of disaster, [is] confined to persons [with] a very special reason to move, such as...scholars....” In short, a place where only the intellectual elite—the eco-bosses—can move about.

Theirs is a simple world. People would not need to understand anything more complex than a shovel or a horse-pulled plow. If the world is sufficiently simple, ordinary people can understand its entirety. Failing this, if it is sufficiently subjective, ordinary people will be unable to understand it. In the first case, there will be no complexities like nuclear power or space exploration. In the second, people can be duped by the earnest leaders of the eco-movement into opposing things they don’t understand until stasis is reached.

David M. Graber is a research biologist for the National Park Service. He writes in the Los Angeles Times: “Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet.... We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.... Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”

Graber’s implications are astonishing. To take his statements seriously is naive, but it is only a short step from wishing for the right virus to creating and distributing one. It only takes a few drops of anthrax virus in the Los Angeles water system to kill the entire population of Southern California.

Think about this the next time you hear a politician give lip service to the greens and their “good intentions.”