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Environmentalism’s Dark History

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer and Nikos Sotirakopoulos discuss the historical roots of environmentalism, how it became perhaps the most widely-accepted social movement in history within just a few decades, and the ominous significance of its triumph in the battle of ideas.

Among the topics covered:

  • Why it is interesting to study the history of environmentalism;
  • The roots of the conservation movement in nineteenth-century romanticism;
  • Why the typical perspective on nature changed from fear to admiration after the Industrial Revolution;
  • The rise of modern environmentalism in the 1960s;
  • How twentieth-century philosophy’s default helped environmentalism gain popular support and political influence;
  • How the misanthropic philosophy of “deep ecology” radicalized the environmental movement;
  • How ecoterrorist groups like Earth First put deep ecology into violent action and received support from mainstream environmentalist groups;
  • The impact of environmentalist doctrines of sustainable development and the precautionary principle;
  • Ayn Rand’s analysis of how the left’s hatred of human ability led it to drop science and technology and adopt a religious view of nature;
  • Whether people will ultimately choose environmentalist ideas or their own well-being;
  • A clue from Atlas Shrugged on how to interpret the positive esthetic response to wilderness after the Industrial Revolution;
  • The environmentalist versus the pro-human response to global warming;
  • How environmentalist tribalism results from the quasi-religious nature of the movement.

Mentioned in this podcast are Ayn Rand’s essays “The Left: Old and New” and “The Anti-Industrial Revolution.”

The podcast was recorded on April 20, 2022. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


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Sam Weaver

Sam Weaver, BA in English, is an associate fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and a recipient of the Conceptual Education Fellowship.

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