Written by Charles G. Mills
GLEN COVE, NY -- Tens of thousands of California farmers are facing bankruptcy because they have been denied enough water for farming. The available water is being denied to the farmers out of fear that some fish will be harmed. The natural hierarchy of humans over fish, birds, and animals has been reversed.
Protection of wild animals and birds and ocean, river, and lake fish is one of the few legitimate functions of government. Such animals, birds, and fish are not private property, and for over a thousand years governments have limited fishing and hunting. Until recently, however, such restrictions have been intended for the benefit of people, not for an abstraction called the environment.
The restrictions have recognized the dominion God gave to Adam over the natural world.
This is not the first time God's intended balance has been ignored. Greedy hunters killed more buffalo than they needed and left their bodies to rot uneaten on the plains. This overhunting unjustly depleted the food supply of those who depended on buffalo to survive. The plains Indians were starved because the buffalo were not protected at all; the farmers of California are being bankrupted to protect fish. These seemingly opposite errors have the same cause: assigning a lower priority to feeding people than to serving the Environment.
When God gave us dominion over wildlife, He did not give us the right to abuse his gift as the buffalo hunters did. He also did not give us the right to spurn his gift as did the lawmakers who denied the California farmers the right to feed themselves for the benefit of a two-inch fish.
This same error distorts our energy policy. The need to develop sources of energy to heat our houses and cook our food is being subordinated to the worship of the Environment. The same extremists who would bankrupt farmers for the benefit of fish claim that they believe in "renewable energy." By this they mean windmills and solar panels, both for now impractical and unrealistic.
Renewable energy, however, does provide much of the energy for Western New York, Ontario, and the areas around some of our great Western dams. It is called hydroelectricity. For some reason, the champions of windmills and solar panels obstruct every attempt to create new hydroelectric facilities, claiming these facilities endanger small fish. This is no more plausible than claiming that windmills endanger birds. Similarly, the champions of windmills and solar panels spurn capturing geothermal energy.
These extremists have also obstructed major projects to exploit oil resources in Alaska and offshore. There are sufficient oil resources in Alaska and off our coasts to give our country complete energy independence. The fierce opposition to such development is based on an unreasonable fear of damage to wildlife from oil spills that is highly unlikely.
The environmental extremists go far beyond protecting two-inch fish from exaggerated dangers. They have forced property owners to take miles-long detours from one part of their property to another. They have imposed enormous paperwork and expert burdens in the form of environmental impact statements on virtually everyone who builds something. They have subordinated the right to build a house or a school to the interest of insects and worms. These requirements constitute a tyrannical burden on the use of private property.
Just as progressive societies destroyed too much for man's good, the extremists in the environmental movement today harm man by opposing our essential needs. Regulating us back to the stone-age is immoral because it denies people food, clothing, and shelter.
Traditional societies from the Middle Ages to the old South understood both their duty to conserve God's gifts and their duty to do so with the moderation necessary not to harm man. Today, environmentalists spurn God's gift of dominion over nature, and in the process they inflict harm, exemplified by the ruined farmers and those who will never receive the fruits of their farms. Environmentalism, in its contemporary form, is an act of ingratitude to God.
The Confederate Lawyer is copyright (c) 2009 by Charles Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, http://www.fgfbooks.com. All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has 40 years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.
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