Earth Day originated in 1970 to draw attention to the agenda of what was known as the “ecology” movement, which was gaining prominence. Half a century later, however, environmentalism has not simply entered the cultural mainstream, it is omnipresent in our lives, with mandates to sort our garbage, legislation to curtail fossil fuels, and public shaming of “climate criminals.” Few people even think of environmentalism as an “ism,” a set of ideas driving a political goal; it’s seen as rooted in fact and common sense.
But as Ayn Rand argued decades ago, environmentalism is not a benign movement to ensure clean air and water for the sake of human well-being.
In a seminal essay, Rand weighed the claims of the nascent environmentalist movement and identified its philosophic essence. She argued that it was part of an “anti-industrial revolution,” predicated not on science, but on a rejection of reason and facts. It’s a movement fundamentally at odds with the requirements of human life. Rand’s essay, based on a lecture at the Ford Hall Forum in 1970, not only reveals the antihuman ideology of environmentalism but also upholds the moral value of reason, science, technology and a free society, which are indispensable to human progress.
Since its founding, the Ayn Rand Institute has been vocal in opposing environmentalism. Below we’ve collected several New Ideal articles and podcasts that apply an Objectivist framework to analyze environmentalism in today’s culture.
- Onkar Ghate and Keith Lockitch discuss Rand’s philosophic analysis of environmentalism, including its quasi-religious character, and the moral implications of its political-economic agenda.
- Ben Bayer and Nikos Sotirakopoulos look at the intellectual origins of the environmentalist movement and how in just a few decades it entered the cultural-political mainstream.
- Proposals like the “Green New Deal,” designed to remake the energy economy, amount to a war on energy. “The ability to harness energy on an industrial scale,” argues Keith Lockitch, “was an unprecedented liberating force, freeing mankind from unrelenting hardship of brute physical labor.”
- Contrary to widely held beliefs, argues Keith Lockitch, industrial capitalism has a stellar record of reducing climate-related threats.
- In the 2022 book Fossil Future, Alex Epstein, a former fellow at ARI, argues that human flourishing requires more oil, coal and gas, not less.
- Onkar Ghate and Nikos Sotirakopoulos comment on the high-profile attacks by Just Stop Oil activists and the public support for them.
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