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Does the planet need saving?

Reflecting on the global warming/environmental propaganda being delivered to my son in elementary school, I was left shaking my head.  Whatever it means to ‘save the planet’ it can’t possibly mean ‘save the planet.’

The planet isn’t going anywhere.  The planet doesn’t care if it is polluted.   In fact, ‘polluted’ is a term that is only meaningful relative to we human-folk.  Indeed, ‘save the planet’ can, on the best construction, only mean something to the effect, “save the habitats that we consider important to life.”  Presumably, with all the expressed fear that the ocean levels will rise, etc, what we mean by ‘life’ actually is ‘human life.’

The slogan ‘save the planet’ is an attempt to make the endeavor bigger and broader than our own selfish interests so it is ironic that the statement is only meaningful in the context of our own selfish interests.  After all, if ocean levels rise and swamp creatures (for example) lose their habitat other creatures- marine ones- will gain habitat.

If the polar bears go extinct due to climate change, they will only be subjected to evolutionary processes that have allegedly been going on for millions and billions of years.  The tropical climate of yesteryear- when the earth apparently was actually quite warm- was home to all sorts of animals that have now gone extinct.  Presumably, with a new, warmer climate, evolution can bring about new species.  On what grounds do we favor the polar bear over these new creatures?

In short, there is no substantive way to approach the issue of  ‘saving the planet’ that really means ‘saving the planet.’  It has to mean ‘saving our own habitat and preserving our favorite species.’  Of course you can’t mold young minds with that.   Good brainwashing is never honest about its real intent.

And what might be the real intent?  Well, if ‘saving the planet’ reduces to some preservation of human interests, it boils down to some humans deciding which interests are to be front and center.  It probably comes down to a raw power play by select humans who care nothing about the planet, nothing about humanity in general, and nothing to do with any preferred solution.  Rather, it has everything to do with them being the ones to decide.  And any slogan, any platform, any agenda will do so long as it puts them in the driver’s seat and the rest of us going along with it.

For obviously, tyranny by collective assent is much preferred to tyranny achieved by bloody rule, if only because the former is so much more efficient and doesn’t require disposing of any bodies.



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    • Anthony on April 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Good grief. And now I see this article saying that fat people are causing global warming: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2387203.ece

    One begins to get the idea that ‘global warming’ is really just a ploy by some to insert themselves in ever more intimate ways in the lives of average Americans and citizens of the world. After all, you can do just about anything- if we don’t ‘save the planet’ we’ve got nothing!

    • Matthew Ackerman on April 22, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Your point that ’save the planet’ can only possibly mean ‘saving our own habitat and preserving our favourite species.’ is quite false.

    As you may be aware, some people believe that there are moral obligation that extend beyond the self-interest of the individual. Many would argue that all species, more or less, have a nominal right to exist, and that an extinction is (again, within reason) a moral wrong. So, this isn’t about what is in it for us, but a question of what is morally right to do.

    I believe it would be immoral of you to destroy the Mona Lisa by marking all over it with crayons. This isn’t because I’m a greedy evil person who just hates people who play with crayons. It’s not because I love the Mona Lisa, or even paintings in general. Personally I think the Mona Lisa is a very ugly piece of art, and I don’t much care for art in general. Still, it would be a shame if it were destroyed. For the rest of human history, no one would ever see the painting again. They would read essay after essay saying it was such a great work of art, yet they would never have the first hand experience of that piece of art.

    Perhaps you could respond that even if you destroy the Mona Lisa, people can always make some other work of art to enjoy, and anyway, all paintings will eventually be destroyed. I suppose this is true, but I do not think something is worthless simply because there are other things which resemble it, and the observation that all things will pass seems to be the very thinest possible justification for intentional destruction.

    Similarly, I think the vast majority of humanity would think it a shame if polar bears went extinct. Not because we ‘prefer’ polar bears over say, small-pox, but simply because they know that polar bears exist, and think it would be a tragic to lose them.

    As for your objection that global warming simply transition the environment to a state which it has been in before, with winners and losers, you are quite right.

    Of course, your grand-children will not live in such an earth. They will live in an earth devoid of polar-bears but with nothing in their place. In perhaps 10 million years, after the very last of your descendants are long dead, something will take the polar-bears place. But, there still wont be any polar-bears. The polar-bears, I’m afraid, like the Mona Lisa, will be gone forever.

    I’m sure Jacques Cousteau, were he still alive, would take issue with your assertion that he “care[s] nothing about the planet.” I could just accuse you of caring nothing for unborn children, but only caring about thrusting your religious dogma on other people. I would think that any reasonable person would think that both of these assertions are false.

    The people who are trying to save the earth are trying to save the earth because they believe that the earth on the species on it, which God looked on and called ‘good’ have intrinsic value and should not be arbitrarily destroyed.

    I want to see a fricking Dodo-bird and giant moas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moa, but I can’t because they were destroyed like the library in Alexandria.

    I, for one, am pissed off, and I don’t want to tell my grand son, “Whoops, sorry about the coral reefs, I know they sounded cool, but the good old U.S. of A just had to burn 2 billion tons of fossil fuels a year, even though in hind site we should have built wind turbines and electric cars.”

    • Matthew Ackerman on April 22, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    If you wish to cut through the propaganda and learn the truth go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610

    • Anthony on April 22, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Matt, thanks for your comments.

    However, you have only made my points. Most of your comments interpreted ‘save the planet’ in terms relative to our own existence.

    We can do no real harm to the planet. We can only transform it in this way or that. The planet not only will not care which way we choose, the transformations themselves are miniscule especially set against the grand evolutionary time scale.

    You appear to have misinterpreted the premise of the post, which was not to call for no interest in our environment. If anything, it was a call for honesty and not propaganda.

    I invite you to peruse this conversation here where one of the most adamant of atheists I know essentially agreed with me. I’d like to hear your response to his comments.


    • Matthew Ackerman on April 23, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I originally read you as saying: ‘saving the planet’ must be a reference only to human self interest.

    This is reinforced by your comment that “[I]t was a call for honesty and not propaganda.”

    I believe what people mean when they tell you to ‘save the planet’ is much the same thing that they would mean if they told you to save the unborn children, save art, or to save the world.
    If I were to say ‘save the unborn’ is it fair to say that I have no interest in protecting unborn children and that I only want the power to force my will on others?

    I repeat, that I think any rational person would question the premise that it is impossible to have a deeply seated moral conviction that abortion is immoral because of the perceived intrinsic value of unborn children.

    Similarly, I read your post as saying that it is impossible for a person to have a deeply seated moral conviction that human caused extinction is a moral wrong in precisely the same way that abortion is a moral wrong.

    For my own part, it would be more honest of me to tell you to save the planet, then to tell you to preserve the environment for your children, because I honestly believe we have a moral duty to conservation.

    ‘saving the earth’ does not imply that the earth cares about being saved any more than ‘saving art’ implies that art cares about being saved. I’m sure that the Mona Lisa has no feelings what so ever, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with describing the preservation of the Mona Lisa as ‘saving the Mona Lisa.’

    As for the post, Copernicus only points you that we actually don’t mean that the planet might break apart and cease to exist. However, it is quite clear to me this is not your point.

    You complain that:

    “’saving the planet’ …. has to mean ’saving our own habitat and preserving our favorite species.’”

    “[I]f ’saving the planet’ reduces to some preservation of human interests, it boils down to some humans deciding which interests are to be front and center. It probably comes down to a raw power play by select humans who care nothing about the planet, nothing about humanity in general, and nothing to do with any preferred solution.”

    Don’t try to tell me that you are asserting that we mean ‘save the biosphere’ when we say ‘save the earth.’ You are clearly asserting that it is disingenuous to imply that pollution and habitat destruction are immoral in themselves, without reference to human interests.
    Furthermore, you are asserting that those who promote saving the earth “care nothing about the planet.”

    I think you are wrong. I think the people who tell you to save the planet care about the planet, and aren’t simply willing to use “any agenda will do so long as it puts them in the driver’s seat and the rest of us going along with it.”

    I disagree with this idea so strongly that I have difficulty believing that anyone could believe it.

    So is it apparent that I disagree with you yet, or will you still assert that I’m missing the point?

    • Anthony on April 23, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I don’t know if you are missing the point. You certainly are making the point. I do wish you would stop disagreeing with me while arguing essentially for what I am contending. 😉

    First to clarify, it is Copernicus, a liberal leftist atheist, who insisted I was right and that it was a ‘metonymy’ for ‘biosphere.’

    If you agree that the planet doesn’t care and that it will not conceivably break apart, then you can’t mean you are ‘saving the planet.’

    Your assertion that it is like ‘art’ makes my point pretty well. If the Mona Lisa doesn’t care if it is destroyed then why do we preserve it? Does it have intrinsic value, or is its value derived from human appreciation of it? If there were no humans left on the planet would there be any reason still for the Mona Lisa to be preserved? I think not.

    Now, it is clear that even what YOU mean by ‘save the planet’ doesn’t really mean ‘save the planet.’ So why do you persist in using the language? Why not use language that reflects the real nature of your interest?

    Now, I think you are being adamant here because you feel perfectly fine with ‘save the planet’ and don’t feel like you are advancing any agenda in using it. Fine. I am easily able to concede that the great mass of people happily using the term (and those like it) automatically transfer what they really mean to the term and in doing so are not pursuing a radical agenda.

    I think that is a problem, too. But that is not the purpose of the post. I think you are greatly deceived, and possibly self-deceived, if you think that the central promoters of environmentalism and ‘global warming’ etc have an agenda other than their own quest for power. I disagree with your dismissal of that concept so strongly, I have difficulty believing that anyone could believe otherwise.

    Shall we begin providing examples? What if we begin with James Hansen’s recent pronouncement that democracy is standing in the way of efforts to stop global warming? http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/18/nasa-climate-change-james-hansen

    Don’t you wonder what Hansen might mean when he says at the end that ‘its going to take stronger action’?

    But I suppose toppling democracy is justified when you are trying to ‘save the planet.’

    Or what about another recent report that fat people are causing global warming? http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/health/1536808,overweight-people-cause-global-warming-042109.article

    If you really believed that the earth was in danger because of fat people in America and England and democracy is standing in the way of resolving the matter precisely what do you think is in the pipeline?

    This of course is just an extension of the already common view that overpopulation is a cause of global warming: http://environmentalism.suite101.com/article.cfm/we_are_the_environmental_problem

    Well gee, if people are the problem and the very planet is at stake, then what pray tell would be the solution?

    It is clear from all three of these examples that in the end, if people really believed what they were saying, then some people are going to have to decide for other people about the right approach. Interestingly, they are positioning themselves as the ones who will be making those decisions.

    Let us consider the possibility that there are people, like yourself, who really ‘care about the planet’ and that is precisely what they mean. I am pretty sure that you are just being used.

    If instead of this nonsense about ‘saving the planet’ which in all honesty I don’t think a reasonable, introspective person could mean, we were frank about humanity’s interest in our biosphere, or as Copernicus put it, “I’m partial to human life” then we could more wisely approach the question. Partial to whose life, exactly? Who decides? Why them and not someone else? How is that decided? Etc. If you are not thinking about those questions you risk having your own rights whisked away from you.

    But the slogan ‘save the planet’ insulates you from asking those questions. ‘Save our biosphere’ is better, but still doesn’t address ‘why’ and ‘how’ and ‘who decides.’

    The US government is already poised to implement all sorts of new regulations to combat ‘global warming’ and you have the audacity to deny that some people aren’t angling for power and influence? Can you at least admit that there are people like that? If you can, I will admit that there may be some people who are true believers. But honestly, I don’t know who would be worse.

    Now, Matt. How much do you weigh? Are you eating healthy? Or are you a burden to the planet? You realize if you are a burden to the planet I’m going to have to do something about it. You won’t mind, right? It’s for the planet after all. 😉

    • Vic Coffey on April 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I believe there are many well meaning people genuinely concerned for the planet who have not thought this through and don’t know where the scaremongering is coming from. Useful idiots if you will.

    Google agenda 21. There you will find the global fascist power grab behind the propaganda. How better to “spread the wealth” than to demand rich nations do without energy while poor nations are exempt? Who decides who is exempt and why?

    Electric cars? Where is the electricity going to come from? What about disposal of those toxic batteries?

    Manufacturing windmills takes vast amounts of energy, and upkeep is far more expensive than anything we are using now.

    It is also quite telling that the method of financing this boondoggle is taxes on CO2 emissions. Will this policy not unfairly impact the poor?

    I suppose we can sacrifice the poor and our liberty on the alter of “saving the planet” even if it is to the benefit of a power hungry global elite.

    • Allen Anderson on April 24, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Genuine question here, definitely NOT intending to be facetious, but do you not consider caring for the environment to be a Christian duty? Is apathy not injustice? Again, I am asking an honest question, absolutely not trying to be accusatory or anything. Perhaps I am missing the point. Are you merely saying, “ATHEISTS have ulterior motives in claiming to care for the environment and here’s why…”? I can understand that, perhaps, but if what is being said here is that creation is intrinsically valueless, and Christians ought not consider environmental issues, then I don’t see how this follows from biblical Christian theology.

    Hope you have a beautiful day
    and thanks for your blog(s).

    • Anthony on April 24, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I do consider caring for the environment to be a Christian duty. I also consider caring for human life to be a Christian duty, too. I also think that resisting and rejecting tyranny and that which leads to it is a Christian duty, as well. I also think we have a duty to seek the truth.

    This is why it is very important that we say what we mean and mean what we say. ‘Save the planet’ cannot mean ‘save the planet.’ It is not a true statement. It is a slogan that helps facilitate an approach that doesn’t bother to stop and consider the sorts of things it must mean and the implications thereof.

    In other words, saying we must ‘save the planet’ is essentially having in mind some notion about what a ‘saved planet’ will look like. People will have different ideas about that and conceivably it is worthy of discussion. The slogan cuts off discussion. The truth invites it.

    As for the intrinsic value of creation, of course, ultimately if it does have intrinsic value, it is relative to God, and not humans. But if we go that way then we need to ask what God thinks a ‘saved planet’ would look like. This would be an interesting conversation in its own right, but I would like to point out that nowhere am I saying- on any grounds- that “Christians ought not consider environmental issues.”

    What I am saying is that we should be honest about our real goals and purposes and skeptical of approaches which seem to conceal the same.

    I am pretty sure that if we did that on this issue, Christians would find much in modern environmentalism that is positively detestable (eg, justifying global ‘family planning’ to end overcrowding). So long as we operate only at the level of the slogan we will proceed on the false notion that they and Christians have the same goals and purposes in mind. They don’t.

    But if they can get you to think no further than the slogan… “We all agree we should save the planet… Leave details to us….”

  1. Frankly, I think that Anthony’s argument is completely bogus, and I’ve said so in the discussion forum. The term ‘planet’ here is an example of metonymy, a well-known type of metaphor in which a word is used non-literally to refer to a related concept. In this case, ‘planet’ just stands for ‘biosphere’. What is endangered is the ecology that sustains us all. Nobody who uses that expression thinks that the planet Earth is going to explode if it ceases to be able to sustain a healthy biosphere (where ‘healthy’ means capable of sustaining the human race).

    • Anthony on April 25, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Nonsense, Cop. Consider this quote by Matthew:

    “For my own part, it would be more honest of me to tell you to save the planet, then to tell you to preserve the environment for your children, because I honestly believe we have a moral duty to conservation.”

    This is in direct contradiction to what you’re saying. At least, he is insisting that we can be concerned about the planet for the sake of the planet alone. Meanwhile, he continues to discuss things in terms of our own interests.

    Besides that, 1st graders think it really is about saving the planet, as do 5th graders etc, etc. I don’t think anyone steeped in that approach consider it as anything else until someone like myself challenges them.

    Since, it is agreed that we are interested in an ‘ecology that sustains us all’ rather than just ‘saving the planet’ then it follows that we can have an open and honest discussion about just what kind of ‘sustaining’ we want to have.

    • John Gormley on October 23, 2009 at 3:56 am

    Anthony what exactly do you think is going to happen? That the planet is going to explode. Get a life man nothing we do can make the planet explode, likewise we can do nothing to prevent the planet from exploding. So sit back and relax, hold on tight to your underpants and ride it out as I can guarantee you that in 50 years time people will have a good laugh at this climate change nonsense that was going to destroy the planet. My government told us to change to energy saving light bulbs that to me is like pissing in the ocean to save the fish total nonsense.

    • Anthony on October 23, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Hi John, thanks for your comment… but I hope you don’t think that I am concerned that ‘something’ might happen… I would think my post would suggest I think something quite different.

    • Anthony on September 1, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Here is a guy who didn’t get the memo that ‘save the planet’ was a metonymy: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38957020/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

  1. […] week I posted an entry challenging the notion that we can save the planet.   This generated some interesting comments.  One person pointed out that it was his […]

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