Re: [asa] Wilson's "The Creation"

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Wed Sep 06 2006 - 19:57:04 EDT

On Wed, 6 Sep 2006 15:54:34 -0400, Randy Isaac wrote:


      Superficially these principles sound great=20
and can be used to great effect=20
rhetorically. Much depends on how the principles=20
are implemented and what is actually meant by many of the terms. .."

@ There are two main ways the principles can be=20
implemented. The first principle on the list aces=20
out one of those ways - by the Statists.

This scares them to death:

"All environmental policy should be based on the=20
idea that people are the most important resource.=20
The inherent value of each individual is greater=20
than the inherent value of any other resource.=20
Accordingly, the foremost measure of quality of=20
our environment is human health, safety and=20
well-being. A policy cannot be good for the=20
environment if it is bad for people. The best=20
judge of what is or is not desirable is the affected individual."

Once that first principle is in operation, all=20
the rest of the principles fall right into place.

"Only capitalism operates on the basis of respect=20
for free, independent, responsible persons. All=20
other systems in varying degrees treat men as=20
less than this. Socialist systems above all treat=20
men as pawns to be moved about by the=20
authorities, or as children to be given what the=20
rulers decide is good for them, or as serfs or=20
slaves. The rulers begin by boasting about their=20
compassion, which in any case is fraudulent, but=20
after a time they drop this pretense which they=20
find unnecessary for the maintenance of power. In=20
all things they act on the presumption that they=20
know best. Therefore they and their systems are=20
morally stunted. Only the free system, the much=20
assailed capitalism, is morally mature." ~ Arthur Shenfield

Randy continues: ".. However, the last part=20
of No. III is very specifically in grave error=20
and if the rest of the statements are interpreted=20
in that vein, then I can see why there is a great polarization on this=

      "Markets reward efficiency, which is=20
environmentally good, while minimizing the harm=20
done by unwise actions. In the market, successes=20
are spread by example, and since costs are not=20
subsidized but are borne privately, unwise=20
actions are on a smaller scale and of a shorter=20
duration. As a result, such actions are on a=20
smaller scale and of a shorter duration. We must=20
work to decouple conservation policies from=20
regulation or government ownership. In aggregate,=20
markets not mandates, most accurately reflect=20
what people value and therefore choose for their environment."

      There are at least two very specific reasons=20
why this is fundamentally wrong:

1) The time scale of the environmental impact is=20
usually much longer than that of the market impact.
2) The scope of environmental impact is usually=20
much broader and different than that of the market impact.

      In simple terms, an individual or=20
corporation can take an action which adversely=20
pollutes a neighboring individual or=20
corporation. That effect may not be felt for=20
many years while the financial gain to the=20
offending party is usually more short term. For=20
the market dynamics to reward that which is=20
environmentally good requires a longer time frame=20
than is affordable. In other words, the=20
irreversible damage is done long before the=20
financial implications will correct the situation.

      In engineering jargon, the feedback time=20
constant is different for environmental factors than for market=

      I could also cite many examples from the=20
semiconductor industry where environmental=20
factors would not have been corrected through=20
market forces alone. Or if they were, not nearly=20
soon enough to avoid damage. By the time the=20
damage forces financial implications that drive=20
change in behavior, the damage is usually too great. ~ Randy

@ Your examples above of what is "fundamentally=20
wrong" is a result of the fact that THIS=20
principle in # 3 has not been "implemented": :=20
"... since costs are not subsidized but are borne=20
privately, unwise actions are on a smaller scale and of a shorter

Government meddling in the private=20
markets (tax-incentives, subsidies, excessive=20
regulations, etc.) is called interventionism=20
and that subverts the capitalistic=20
system. There will always be a bad result=20
and then the clueless always blame it on=20
"capitalism". The fact is, though, that without=20
government aid such as subsidies, the American=20
robber barons of the 19th century would never have succeeded.

Of course, now that government has gotten so big=20
and has its tentacles entwined in every corner of=20
the private market place, it is impossible to=20
pull the rug out all at once. It has to be=20
wound down slowly by privatizing more and more=20
government-run entities and stopping the intervention.

Government is a necessary evil and it should be=20
as small and close to the people as=20
possible.. Big government is anathema to=20
freedom. I will always oppose the Stalinist mentalities who
advocate it.

~ Janice

----- Original Message -----
From: <>Janice Matchett
To: <>George Murphy ;=20
<>Randy Isaac ;=20
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Wilson's "The Creation"

At 05:13 PM 9/5/2006, George Murphy wrote:

> But as Wilson notes, the opposition to sound=20
> environmental policy from some on the religious=20
> right continues to be a problem - & that's=20
> especially the case since some people with those=20
> views are in positions to influence or make=20
> policy in the current administration.

@ Really? Which of the principles below do you=20
and the religious left reject / consider to be=20
unsound, and why specifically?:

I. People are the most important resource.

All environmental policy should be based on the=20
idea that people are the most important resource.=20
The inherent value of each individual is greater=20
than the inherent value of any other resource.=20
Accordingly, the foremost measure of quality of=20
our environment is human health, safety and=20
well-being. A policy cannot be good for the=20
environment if it is bad for people. The best=20
judge of what is or is not desirable is the affected individual.

Human intellect and accumulated knowledge are the=20
only means by which the environment can be=20
willfully improved or modified. Environmental=20
policies should inspire people to be good=20
stewards. Within the framework of equity and=20
liability individuals carry out deeds that create=20
incremental benefits in the quality or quantity=20
of a resource or improve some aspect of the=20
environment. Cumulatively these deeds result in=20
progress and provide direct and indirect environmental benefits to

   II. Renewable natural resources are resilient=20
and dynamic and respond positively to wise management.

Renewable natural resources =AD trees, plants,=20
soil, air, water, fish and wildlife and=20
collections thereof =AD wetlands, deserts, forests=20
and prairies are the resources we are dependent=20
upon for food, clothing, medicine, shelter and to=20
meet innumerable other human needs. Human life=20
depends upon their use and conservation. Such=20
resources are continually regenerated through=20
growth, reproduction or other naturally occurring=20
processes which cleanse, cycle or otherwise=20
create them anew. While all living organisms and=20
activities produce byproducts, nature has a=20
profound ability to carry, recycle, recover and=20
cleanse. These characteristics make it possible=20
for us to wisely use renewable resources now=20
while ensuring they are conserved for future=20
generations. As Teddy Roosevelt, a founding=20
father of conservation, recognized: "A Nation=20
treats its resources well if it turns them over=20
to the next generation improved and not impaired in value."

III. The most promising new opportunities for=20
environmental improvements lie in extending the=20
protection of private property and unleashing the=20
creative powers of the free market.

Ownership inspires stewardship. Private property=20
stewards have the incentive to enhance their=20
resources and the incentive to protect them.=20
Polluting another's property is to trespass or to=20
cause injury. Polluters, not those most=20
vulnerable in the political process, should pay=20
for damages done to others. Good stewardship is=20
the wise use or conservation of nature's bounty,=20
based on our needs. With some exception, where=20
property rights are absent, we must seek to=20
extend them. If this proves elusive, we must seek=20
to bring the forces of the market to bear to the=20
greatest extent possible. There is a direct and=20
positive relationship between modern market=20
economies and a clean, healthy and safe=20
environment. There is also a direct and positive=20
relationship between the complexity of a=20
situation and the need for freedom. Markets=20
reward efficiency, which is environmentally good,=20
while minimizing the harm done by unwise actions.=20
In the market, successes are spread by example,=20
and since costs are not subsidized but are borne=20
privately, unwise actions are on a smaller scale=20
and of a shorter duration. As a result, such=20
actions are on a smaller scale and of a shorter=20
duration. We must work to decouple conservation=20
policies from regulation or government ownership.=20
In aggregate, markets not mandates, most=20
accurately reflect what people value and=20
therefore choose for their environment.

IV. Our efforts to reduce, control and remediate=20
pollution should achieve real environmental benefits.

The term pollution is applied to a vast array of=20
substances and conditions that vary greatly in=20
their effect on man. It is used to describe fatal=20
threats to human health, as well as to describe=20
physically harmless conditions that fall short of=20
someone's aesthetic ideal. Pollutants occur=20
naturally or can be a by-product of technology.=20
Their origin does not determine their degree of=20
threat. Most carcinogens, for example, occur=20
naturally but do not engender popular fear to the=20
same degree that man-made carcinogens do.=20
Microbiological pollutants, bacteria and viruses,=20
though natural, are by far the most injurious=20
form of pollution. Technology and its byproducts=20
must be respected but not feared. Science is an=20
invaluable tool for rationally weighing risks to=20
human health or assessing and measuring other=20
environmental impacts. Health and well-being are=20
our primary environmental measures. Science also=20
provides a means of considering the costs and=20
benefits of actions designed to reduce, control=20
and remediate pollution or other environmental=20
impacts so that we may have a cleaner, healthier and safer environment.

V. The Learning Curve is Green.

As we accumulate additional knowledge we learn=20
how to get more output from less input. The more=20
scientific, technical and artistic knowledge we=20
have, the more efficient we are in meeting our=20
needs. As we gain knowledge, we are able to=20
conserve by substituting information for other=20
resources. We get more miles per gallon, more=20
board-feet per acre of timber, a higher=20
agricultural yield per cultivated acre, more GNP=20
per unit of energy. Technological advancement=20
confers environmental benefits. Progress made it=20
possible for the American farmer of today to feed=20
and clothe a population more than two and a half=20
times the size of the one we had in 1910 and=20
triple exports over the same time frame while=20
lowering the total acreage in production from 325=20
million to 297 million acres. That is 28 million=20
acres less, an area larger than the state of=20
Louisiana that is now available for other uses=20
such as wildlife habitat. American agriculture=20
has demonstrated that as an unintended=20
consequence of seeking efficiencies, there are=20
environmental benefits. As Warren Brookes used to=20
put it simply , "The learning curve is green."=20
This phenomenon has a tremendous positive effect=20
on our environment and progress along the=20
learning curve is best advanced by the relentless=20
competition in the market to find the best or wisest use of a resource.

VI. Management of natural resources should be=20
conducted on a site and situation specific basis.

Resource management should allow for variation of=20
conditions from location to location and time to=20
time. A site and situation specific approach=20
takes advantage of the fact that those closest to=20
a resource are best able to manage it. Such=20
practices allow us to set priorities and break=20
problems down into manageable units. Natural=20
resource managers, on site and familiar with the=20
situation, whether tending to the backyard garden=20
or the back forty pasture, are best able to=20
determine what to do, how to do it and when to do=20
it. They are able to adapt management strategies=20
to account for feedback and changes. A site and=20
situation specific management scheme fits the=20
particulars as no government mandate or standard=20
can. Additionally, a site and situation specific=20
approach is more consistent with policies carried=20
out at lesser political levels. The closer the=20
management of natural resources is to the=20
affected parties, the more likely it is to=20
reflect their needs and desires. The more=20
centralized management is, the more likely it is=20
to be arbitrary, ineffectual or even=20
counterproductive. A site and situation specific=20
approach avoids the institutional power and=20
ideological concerns that dominate politicized central planning.

VII. Science should be employed as a tool to guide public policy.

Societal decisions rely upon science but=20
ultimately are the product of ethics, beliefs,=20
consensus and many other processes outside the=20
domain of science. Understanding science for what=20
it is and is not is central to developing=20
intelligent environmental polices. Science is the=20
product of the scientific method, the process of=20
asking questions and finding answers in an=20
objective manner. It is a powerful tool for=20
understanding our environment and measuring the=20
consequences of various courses of action.=20
Through science we can assess risks, as well as=20
weigh costs against benefits. While science=20
cannot be substituted for public policy, public=20
policy on scientific subjects should reflect=20
scientific knowledge. A law is a determination to=20
force compliance with a code of conduct. Laws go=20
beyond that which can be established with=20
scientific certainty. Laws are based upon=20
normative values and beliefs and are a commitment=20
to use force. Commitments to use the force of law=20
should be made with great caution and demand a=20
high degree of scientific certainty. To do=20
otherwise is likely to result in environmental=20
laws based upon scientific opinions rather than=20
scientific facts. Such laws are likely to be=20
wasteful, disruptive or even counterproductive,=20
as scientific opinions change profoundly and=20
often at a faster pace than public policy. The=20
notion behind the Hippocratic oath =AD first do no=20
harm =AD should govern the enactment of public policy.

VIII. Environmental policies which emanate from=20
liberty are the most successful.

Our chosen environment is liberty, and liberty is=20
the central organizing principle of America. To=20
be consistent with our most cherished principle,=20
our environmental policies must be consistent=20
with liberty. Restricting liberty not only denies=20
Americans their chosen environment, but also constrains environmental=

Liberty has powerful environmental benefits.=20
Freedom unleashes forces most needed to make our=20
environment cleaner, healthier and safer for the=20
future. It fosters scientific inquiry,=20
technological innovation, entrepreneurship, rapid=20
information exchange, accuracy and flexibility.=20
Free people work to improve the environment, and=20
liberty is the energy behind environmental progress.

More: Principles of the American Conservation=20

~ Janice

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Received on Sat Sep 9 13:43:58 2006

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