Environmentalism is a good idea that gets carried to a bad extreme on occasion by a few radicals. This is the standard critique of environmentalism—and it is false. Environmentalism is not about reducing pollution to manageable levels, as most Americans believe. It is about eradicating it completely, even if it means eradicating industrialism in the bargain, a process that is already well under way. It is not about conserving marginal amounts of energy by devising more efficient light bulbs and car engines. It is about eliminating our use of fossil fuels and replacing them with far smaller quantities of energy from wind and solar, even though this will cripple our economy. It is not about preserving a few tracts of scenic landscape here and there, as in our national parks and wildernesses. It is about channeling all new development into already existing urban centers and then preserving the vast majority of our land in its natural state. Expect the familiar call for mass transit to be accompanied one day soon by calls for mass housing.
Environmentalism does not aspire to make a few adjustments to a capitalist industrial system grounded in the rights of individuals. It aspires to abolish that system entirely and to replace it with one based on government command and control. We tried individual freedom, say the environmentalists, and it brought us to the brink of environmental destruction. Now freedom is a luxury we can no longer afford.
Environmentalism will vastly diminish our comfort, health, wealth, safety, and security from foreign enemies, and it will ultimately deliver us to tyranny. It is not a benign set of ideas promulgated by well-meaning idealists whose efforts are occasionally hijacked by extremists. It is a radical ideology that is moving inexorably toward its logical, entirely predictable conclusion.