The Ecology of Environmentalism

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

Social ecologists profferrepparttar same prescriptions but with an anarchistic twist. The hierarchical view of nature - with Man atrepparttar 132503 pinnacle - is a reflection of social relations, they suggest. Dismantlerepparttar 132504 latter - and you get rid ofrepparttar 132505 former.

The Ethicists appear to be as confounded and ludicrous as their "feet onrepparttar 132506 ground" opponents.

Biocentrists view nature as possessed of an intrinsic value, regardless of its actual or potential utility. They fail to specify, however, how this, even if true, gives rise to rights and commensurate obligations. Nor was their case aided by their association withrepparttar 132507 apocalyptic or survivalist school of environmentalism which has developed proto-fascist tendencies and is gradually being scientifically debunked.

The proponents of deep ecology radicalizerepparttar 132508 ideas of social ecology ad absurdum and postulate a transcendentalist spiritual connection withrepparttar 132509 inanimate (whatever that may be). In consequence, they refuse to intervene to counter or contain natural processes, including diseases and famine.

The politicization of environmental concerns runsrepparttar 132510 gamut from political activism to eco-terrorism. The environmental movement - whether in academe, inrepparttar 132511 media, in non-governmental organizations, or in legislature - is now comprised of a web of bureaucratic interest groups.

Like all bureaucracies, environmental organizations are out to perpetuate themselves, fight heresy and accumulate political clout andrepparttar 132512 money and perks that come with it. They are no longer a disinterested and objective party. They have a stake in apocalypse. That makes them automatically suspect.

Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist", was atrepparttar 132513 receiving end of such self-serving sanctimony. A statistician, he demonstrated thatrepparttar 132514 doom and gloom tendered by environmental campaigners, scholars and militants are, at best, dubious and, at worst,repparttar 132515 outcomes of deliberate manipulation.

The situation is actually improving on many fronts, showed Lomborg: known reserves of fossil fuels and most metals are rising, agricultural production per head is surging,repparttar 132516 number ofrepparttar 132517 famished is declining, biodiversity loss is slowing as do pollution and tropical deforestation. Inrepparttar 132518 long run, even in pockets of environmental degradation, inrepparttar 132519 poor and developing countries, rising incomes andrepparttar 132520 attendant drop in birth rates will likely amelioraterepparttar 132521 situation inrepparttar 132522 long run.

Yet, both camps,repparttar 132523 optimists andrepparttar 132524 pessimists, rely on partial, irrelevant, or, worse, manipulated data. The multiple authors of "People and Ecosystems", published byrepparttar 132525 World Resources Institute,repparttar 132526 World Bank andrepparttar 132527 United Nations conclude: "Our knowledge of ecosystems has increased dramatically, but it simply has not kept pace with our ability to alter them."

Quoted by The Economist, Daniel Esty of Yale,repparttar 132528 leader of an environmental project sponsored by World Economic Forum, exclaimed:

"Why hasn't anyone done careful environmental measurement before? Businessmen always say, ‘what matters gets measured'. Social scientists started quantitative measurement 30 years ago, and even political science turned to hard numbers 15 years ago. Yet look at environmental policy, andrepparttar 132529 data are lousy."

Nor is this dearth of reliable and unequivocal information likely to end soon. Evenrepparttar 132530 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, supported by numerous development agencies and environmental groups, is seriously under-financed. The conspiracy-minded attribute this curious void torepparttar 132531 self-serving designs ofrepparttar 132532 apocalyptic school of environmentalism. Ignorance and fear, they point out, are amongrepparttar 132533 fanatic's most useful allies. They also make for good copy.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .

Visit Sam's Web site at

Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

But while suicide is chiefly intended to terminate a life –repparttar other acts are aimed at perpetuating, strengthening, and defending values or other people. Many - not only religious people - are appalled byrepparttar 132501 choice implied in suicide - of death over life. They feel that it demeans life and abnegates its meaning.

Life's meaning -repparttar 132502 outcome of active selection byrepparttar 132503 individual - is either external (such as God's plan) or internal,repparttar 132504 outcome of an arbitrary frame of reference, such as having a career goal. Our life is rendered meaningful only by integrating into an eternal thing, process, design, or being. Suicide makes life trivial becauserepparttar 132505 act is not natural - not part ofrepparttar 132506 eternal framework,repparttar 132507 undying process,repparttar 132508 timeless cycle of birth and death. Suicide is a break with eternity.

Henry Sidgwick said that only conscious (i.e., intelligent) beings can appreciate values and meanings. So, life is significant to conscious, intelligent, though finite, beings - because it is a part of some eternal goal, plan, process, thing, design, or being. Suicide flies inrepparttar 132509 face of Sidgwick's dictum. It is a statement by an intelligent and conscious being aboutrepparttar 132510 meaninglessness of life.

If suicide is a statement, than society, in this case, is againstrepparttar 132511 freedom of expression. Inrepparttar 132512 case of suicide, free speech dissonantly clashes withrepparttar 132513 sanctity of a meaningful life. To rid itself ofrepparttar 132514 anxiety brought on by this conflict, society cast suicide as a depraved or even criminal act and its perpetrators are much castigated.

The suicide violates not onlyrepparttar 132515 social contract - but, many will add, covenants with God or nature. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote inrepparttar 132516 "Summa Theologiae" that - since organisms strive to survive - suicide is an unnatural act. Moreover, it adversely affectsrepparttar 132517 community and violatesrepparttar 132518 property rights of God,repparttar 132519 imputed owner of one's spirit. Christianity regardsrepparttar 132520 immortal soul as a gift and, in Jewish writings, it is a deposit. Suicide amounts torepparttar 132521 abuse or misuse of God's possessions, temporarily lodged in a corporeal mansion.

This paternalism was propagated, centuries later, by Sir William Blackstone,repparttar 132522 codifier of British Law. Suicide - being self-murder - is a grave felony, whichrepparttar 132523 state has a right to prevent and to punish for. In certain countries this still isrepparttar 132524 case. In Israel, for instance, a soldier is considered to be "military property" and an attempted suicide is severely punished as "a corruption of an army chattel".

Paternalism, a malignant mutation of benevolence, is about objectifying people and treating them as possessions. Even fully-informed and consenting adults are not granted full, unmitigated autonomy, freedom, and privacy. This tends to breed "victimless crimes". The "culprits" - gamblers, homosexuals, communists, suicides, drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes – are "protected from themselves" by an intrusive nanny state.

The possession of a right by a person imposes on others a corresponding obligation not to act to frustrate its exercise. Suicide is oftenrepparttar 132525 choice of a mentally and legally competent adult. Life is such a basic and deep set phenomenon that evenrepparttar 132526 incompetents -repparttar 132527 mentally retarded or mentally insane or minors - can fully gauge its significance and make "informed" decisions, in my view.

The paternalists claim counterfactually that no competent adult "in his right mind" will ever decide to commit suicide. They citerepparttar 132528 cases of suicides who survived and felt very happy that they have - as a compelling reason to intervene. But we all make irreversible decisions for which, sometimes, we are sorry. It gives no onerepparttar 132529 right to interfere.

Paternalism is a slippery slope. Shouldrepparttar 132530 state be allowed to preventrepparttar 132531 birth of a genetically defective child or forbid his parents to marry inrepparttar 132532 first place? Should unhealthy adults be forced to abstain from smoking, or steer clear from alcohol? Should they be coerced to exercise?

Suicide is subject to a double moral standard. People are permitted - nay, encouraged - to sacrifice their life only in certain, socially sanctioned, ways. To die onrepparttar 132533 battlefield or in defense of one's religion is commendable. This hypocrisy reveals how power structures -repparttar 132534 state, institutional religion, political parties, national movements - aim to monopolizerepparttar 132535 lives of citizens and adherents to do with as they see fit. Suicide threatens this monopoly. Hencerepparttar 132536 taboo.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .

Visit Sam's Web site at

    <Back to Page 1 © 2005
Terms of Use