I look forward to Kevin Carson’s posts, especially where he critiques “vulgar libertarians”. In this one, he takes on a Dr Reisman who blasts all environmentalists as “collectivists” just like Hitler: http://mutualist.blogspot.com/2006/07/smarter-critics-of-environmentalism.html
It has been my misfortune to have known a few self professed “libertarians” who advocated nuking the whales and paving the earth. To them, being green meant being leftist, and they reckoned that one way to establish libertarian credibility was to take the opposite view. If you cared about the environment or principles of stewardship, you were a commie or a fascist. You had to be. Otherwise you would not be able to implement your environmentally responsible ideas.
I’m for freedom, and I’m green. I don’t exist in Resiman’s view of the universe. I see the earth and nature as God’s wonderful creation. The world and all that is in it are God’s own. If I take seriously the commandment to love God, I will cherish His creation. Moreover, I see environmental responsibility as an aspect of good old fashioned consideration for my fellow human beings. For example, I don’t put fertilizers and herbicides on my lawn, not because I wouldn’t like a nice grassy lawn, but because I know that these get into the environment and the water supply. Using them would be inconsiderate of my neighbors’ health and right to live in a pleasant environment. I take seriously the commandment to love my neighbor, and my environmentalism is part of how I show this love. My neighbors include future generations to whom I acknowledge I have a moral obligation.
I hope that my neighbors will show the same consideration to me, and I will not hesitate to advocate environmentally responsible practices. I won’t resort to force, however. I probably won’t socialize much with a neighbor who despoils his land, and I will call him out on it, but I won’t force him to do the right thing. I will only resort to force if I need to do so to protect my own property rights. For example, if you poison my well, I will sue your ass off.
I advocate free market solutions to environmental problems and reckon that a truly free society would probably be less damaging to the environment than what we have now. Reisman and his ilk don’t think these solutions would work, but I don’t think they can legitimately argue the point. They don’t want any environmental controls or individual environmental sensitivity in any event, so they have no room to complain if free market solutions don’t work as advertised. I concede that free market solutions might not work all the time, but I see advocacy and moral persuasion as an aspect of the free market. If enough of us regard environmental responsibility as a moral imperative, our neighbors may become too embarrassed to pollute or despoil. I’ll take my chances with freedom in any event.