Who Are the Extremists? Part 2

This entry is part 21 of 47 in the series Blog1

Now let us tale a look at extremism on the Left, real or imagined.

The first question to ask is where the accusations of the Right are directed in this area? How about the categories where the Left accuses the Right of extremism that we have covered so far?  These subjects were:

(1) President Bush.  This doesn’t apply though most conservatives do see Obama as being extreme in a number of areas though they usually use other words than extreme to describe his views. For instance, they will normally describe him as a big spender rather than an extreme spender.

The other categories so far are: (2) Abortion (3) Contraceptives and insurance (4) Immigration (5) Race and (6) Spending.  The Right rarely uses the word extreme in any reference to these subjects in connection to the Left though they do strongly disagree. Generally there is a reasonable percentage of support on both sides of these positions so neither side is justified in calling the other extreme but voicing disagreement is to be expected.

That said, is there any part of the ideology of the Left which is called extreme by the Right?  There is one area and that is the environment.  You will hear the Right call some members of the Left, “extreme environmentalists.”

So, are conservatives justified in this accusation?  The short answer is yes and no. There are some objectives of environmentalists that are reasonable and have majority public support. The majority of the public support reasonable objectives to insure we have clean air and water, conserve energy, develop alternatives, establish national parks to name a few.

Many environmental goals have wide support from both parties if they are approached with reason.  Unfortunately, there are many who believe that if a little of something is good then more is always better and such is often not the case.

There is a line where some of a good thing is beneficial but too much is harmful and, unfortunately, there are many who either do not believe in such a line or lack the vision to see it.

Here are some examples indicating the importance of the line.

• Arsenic in drinking water.  Even though a lot of private wells have up to 100 parts per billion (ppb) the EPA has pushed regulations to 10 ppb.  This has been a financial hardship for some to comply, but an argument could be made that it is worth it for public safety. However some push for lower levels or no arsenic at all.  We reach a point of diminishing returns by pushing to eliminate all contaminates from drinking water as the expense would be so high that water would cost more than oil.

• Endangered species. The vast majority want reasonable measures taken to preserve the various endangered species, but even here there is a line. Extremists often call for measures that hurt the economy, business and farmers where questionable good is achieved.  If it comes down to the survival of animals or humans most will pick humans, but many extremists are black and white and want no exceptions to regulations.  Many environmentalists see animals, worms and insects as having equal value to humans.  Most would view this as extreme.

Back in my younger years I considered myself on the same page with environmentalists until I was invited to a dinner where the main founder of Earth First, Dave Foreman, was to speak. As I listened to him I saw that he was taking the environment movement way beyond anything I had heard preached before.  He wanted a lot fewer people on the earth and a lot more trees and animals which he seemed to see as more important than humans.  Then he said something that really stirred me.  He wanted the humans rounded up and ran out of the cities, such as Boise where I live, and the buildings demolished so the land could be turned back over to bears, coyotes, deer etc.

Even though the attendees were environmentalists I figured this would be over the top for them, but I was very wrong.  The audience whooped, hollered and clapped with almost universal approval.  I looked around at what I considered to be normal human beings who were my neighbors and asked myself, who are these people?  Am I in the Twilight Zone, or what?

From that point on I began to look at environmental movements with a skeptical eye for Earth First and others did indeed quality as representing the extreme.

Later came even more extremists groups that spiked trees and endangered the lives of lumberjacks, then came the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which destroyed property that they thought was an affront to nature.

Many think the Sierra Club is a moderate organization but this certainly does not apply to all its members. Some time ago a member knocked on my door wanting me to sign a petition and we started talking about some issues. When I explained to him that some environmental stands would hurt the economy he was gleeful. He thought that the more the economy was hurt the better and then stated that he could not wait until the economy totally collapsed.

Astounded, I asked him if he would not be concerned about his own survival if such a thing happened. He was completely unconcerned as he thought he would somehow live off nature and be much happier than he was in the present. He never did clarify how he would survive. Perhaps he thought he would dance through the Idaho wilderness area naked, eating berries and sleeping with the bears.

Patrick Moore was listed as a Founder and First Member of Greenpeace until he resisted following the organization to what he considered extremes. Here is his viewpoint listed in Wikipedia:

In 2005, Moore criticized what he saw as scare tactics and disinformation employed by some within the environmental movement, saying that the environmental movement “abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism.” Moore contends that for the environmental movement “most of the really serious problems have been dealt with”, seeking now to “invent doom and gloom scenarios”.

I think Moore identified the source of a lot of extremism with the doom and gloom aspects. Many have made fun of the religious fundamentalists for their end of the world fears but in the past couple decades they have been overshadowed by extreme environmentalists who fear a number of end of the world apocalyptic scenarios.

Here are just a few ingredients of their end of the world fears:

(1) Global warming

(2) Loss of the ozone layer

(3) Deforestation

(4) They fear nuclear energy more than the nuclear bomb (which they should fear).

(5) Air Pollution

(6) Melting glaciers

(7) Capitalism

Reasonable concern over environmental problems is fine but to act based on a panic over end times is not helpful.

One thing constantly overlooked by environmentalists is the promise of advancements in technology if the economy survives in a reasonable condition.  Many of them distrust technology and want to return to nature and live like the Amish but advances in technology has led and will continue to lead us toward a safer, cleaner and healthier planet.


Copyright 2012 by J J Dewey

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