NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Challenging the Foundations of the Green Establishment

October 18, 2012

For too long, environmental thinking has been guided by constant bad news. Reports from the dwindling supply of natural resources to technological advances that hurt the environment have justified an increasing role of government regulation and shrinkage of personal liberty, says Robert Gordon of the Heritage Foundation.

However, many policies sought by the environmental establishment do nothing more than cost taxpayers billions with nothing to show for it. Those in the minority of environmental debates have little power to change the worldview that many people have accepted: that humans are ruining the environment and the government has the responsibility of protecting it.

Instead, a new code of ethics needs to emerge: an American Conservation Ethic that challenges the current worldview that many environmentalists hold. This would allow a formation of new ideas and policies that protect the environment without sacrificing freedoms and liberty to the government:

  • People are the most important resource.
  • Renewable natural resources are resilient and respond positively to wise management.
  • Private property protections and free markets provide the most promising new opportunities for environmental improvement.
  • Efforts to reduce, control and provide remedies for pollution should achieve real benefits.
  • Use scientific, technological and artistic knowledge to get more for less.
  • Management of natural resources should be conducted on a site- and situation-specific basis.
  • Science should be employed as a tool to guide public policy.
  • Finally, the most successful policies are rooted in liberty.

Rather than leave it to the government to infringe on the liberties and freedoms of individuals, the American Conservation Ethic can provide smart, practical solutions to environmental policy.

Source: Robert Gordon, "Individuals, Liberty, and the Environment: Challenging the Foundations of the Green Establishment," Heritage Foundation, October 10, 2012.


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