The Sensible Environmentalist

Policy is also an important consideration. Distinguishing superficial from sensible environmentalism requires an awareness that moving production and other environmental threats from one part of the world to another may be good or bad for the global environment. Should we be happy when we have stymied an energy project in America when this means that comparable production will occur in Russia or Iran? Open debate societies like America — albeit far from perfect — are superior to autocratic no-debate societies — China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela — when it comes to the environment. In the aftermath of thousands of pig carcasses floating down the Huangpu River, the anecdotal, though essentially accurate, story about people in Shanghai getting free cigarettes by opening their windows and free pork soup by opening their water taps demonstrates this reality.

Balancing competing goods is a matter of prudential judgment and not the smug attitude that caricatures people and organizations as benighted or rapacious. Sensible environmentalism — evaluating each environmental initiative on its merits — takes time and effort, openness to new information and different views, and means that we may support some and not others, as our faith and prudential judgment inform us.

4/8/2015 4:00:00 AM