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Environmental Studies 2

Updated on July 4, 2011

Here is the second reading response for my Environmental Studies class.

In chapter three of The Politics of the Earth, John Dryzekcharacterizes Prometheans’ as closed-minded; thus, implying that environmentalism thinks outside the box. However, truePrometheanism, and Garrett Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons reveals environmentalism’s closed-mindedness.

According to Dryzek, Prometheans believe “natural resources, ecosystems, and… nature itself, do not exist” (57 Dryzek). This actually directly contradicts Prometheanism, which believes reality exists; thus, it understands matter is finite.Prometheanism also believes man is productive and progressive, and that he has successfully lessened his dependence on nature for survival. Thus, Prometheanismbelieves man can progress beyond nature to a point when relying on it for existence will be unnecessary. Environmentalists argue the exact opposite, for they believe man cannot exist without nature. Thus, man must not progress beyond nature, but stagnate and preserve nature. Nothing could be more in the box.

Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons illustrates another environmentalist inside-the-box thought. In his parable, Hardin explains that individuals are inclined to place more cattle on a communally owned pasture, or commons. Eventually, there would be too many cattle for the commons to support, and must would starve. Hardin equates the parable to the current environmental problem, and concludes “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon” (805 Adelson) is the only solution. Coercion is completely unnecessary; however, environmentalists cannot see another solution because the parable’s foundation is closed-minded. The solution without coercion is privatizing the commons. Consequently, the owner would want to sustain his property to continuously profit. This is impossible with commons because communal ownership is no ownership; no one is responsible for the property’s upkeep.

Closed-mindedness is not wrong. Knowing the truth is closed-minded. The problem is closed-mindedness about falsehoods. That is environmentalism, which believes nature is communal and man needs it; therefore, he must be forced to sustain it.

I would just like to add an example of a discussion from this very class to capture environmentalists' closed-mindedness.

The class was discussing how privatization could solve several environmental problems; however, most of the class was laughing and poking fun at the suggestions. One of the suggestions from the book was that whales could be privatized. Consequently, environmentalists could purchase whales to protect, and whalers could purchase whales to breed and slaughter like cattle. I pointed out that the one problem with this is that the whales could freely swim around from international waters to state owned waters, and that first sections of the oceans must be privatized, then one must find a way to keep one's whales in his plot of ocean. Once again the class laughed and pointed out how stupid this was. They argued that it could never be done because whales migrate. I stated that they were thinking like the first man who invented fire, claiming that man would never go to the moon and that man would never be able to electronically communicate with other men on the opposite side of the globe in mere seconds. I said that I did not know the solution, but that does not mean it will never be solved. They continued to point out that this was a completely different circumstance because whales' migratory patterns could not be controlled.

A few hours later, after class, I found the solution. I kept thinking to myself that cattle and horses used to freely move around, but then man invented fences and kept them in one spot, curbing those unstoppable migratory patterns. The whale solution could be implemented today. First, plots of ocean are privatized, and the geographical positions of one's plot of ocean is recorded on a computer that communicates with a satellite. Next, one purchases some whales, and herds them into these plots of oceans with boats or something. I am sure herding whales has already been pioneered. Then, one creates a device for whales which is similar to the electric dog collars. This device also has a GPS that communicates to the satellite the whale's current position. Thus, when the whale approaches the limits of one's plot of ocean the satellite knows and sends a signal back to the device, ordering that it zap the whale. The whale is zapped, swims in the other directions, and is conditioned not to leave that plot of ocean. Additionally, once more is understood about the brain, a chip could probably be placed on the whale's brain so that as it reaches the limits of the plot it just decided to turn around without any zap or conditioning. Man's mind has incredible potential, but it appears my classmates hate man too much to understand the greatness of his mind. In turn the only solution they see to such problems as this environmental issue is stagnation. Maintaining the environment for what it is, even if they have to violate individuals' natural rights to achieve this stagnation.


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