HUMINT: Chemically Neutral
Entropy: A measure of the disorder or randomness in a system. The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy of a closed system always increases over time. This means that energy is being transformed by the mechanics of the universe into uniformly-distributed heat energy. What this means is that even a chemically neutral process will increase entropy. There is no way around entropy… no matter how green or chemically neutral mankind intends to become.
Quote 1: Is it better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both? --- Niccolo Machiavelli
Quote 2: War is an extension of politics by other means. --- Karl Von Clausewitz
When it comes to our society’s environmental wars, I want to be neutral. Not with regard to my opinion, but with regard to my chemistry. I don’t want to be Green! I don’t want to conserve! I want to be neutral! Unfortunately, a chasm of leadership for the cause of chemical neutrality exists in our endless war with the environment. Shouldn’t we be asking: "Where is the Enviro-equivalent of Master Strategist and Tactician, General David Petraeus in this fight? Where’s our Patton? Where’s our Sherman?" Admittedly, the void is partly my fault. For years I’ve been ambivalent, and for it, I am ashamed. I’ve never asked for representation or leadership on environmental issues, until now. In place of good leaders, thorny weeds with bad ideas are blooming. Sadly, now, these bad ideas are difficult if not impossible to remove by Enviro-reform or Enviro-revolution. The real question is, “who leads today?” and “what kind of leadership does the environmental movement need?” Current leader’s ineffectiveness aside, the generals leading our global environmental wars are ruthless. They are as Machiavellian as any leader that preceded them. No, these generals do not wear uniforms, but their divisions are gearing up for battle. Make no mistake; they will fight for their bad ideas. Arguably, Enviro-generals are more political than military; nevertheless, my analogy deserves enough latitude to develop. Today’s environmental generals recruit and lead with an intoxicating mixture of fear and love; Fear of impending global doom, and love of the planet as it exists today. All that’s required of our Enviro-generals to keep their status and rank is that they regularly imply environmental doom is imminent. The more emotional their arguments, the better. Like many of those who have already joined the multitudes marching behind these generals, I tend to fear their environmental scenarios. My fear is manifest without looking at any of the data. Why? The predisposition in every society is to believe the sky is falling. It’s human nature. Human nature is not something to be ashamed of. Indeed, fear of the worst case scenario is what kept our ancestors alive long enough for us to inherit this beautiful earth.
Born into this conflicted world; born into this environmental war raging beside many other wars, I harbor no love for Enviro-generals. I do however fear them. Enviro-generals imply global climate change is an occurrence human beings are fully capable of controlling. But that’s like saying humans are fully capable of controlling national markets, or controlling each other, AKA, communism or slavery. Pardon my skepticism, but history suggests authoritarian egotism usually precipitates disaster! Asserting authority over a system too complex for the human mind to comprehend tends to cannibalize and destroy the system. The only systems human beings have shown any competence controlling are programmable systems. The efficacy of programmable systems is another matter entirely; an interesting tangent for another day. In the context of this essay however, it should suffice to say, the environment is a non-programmable system. In other words, there are climatic variables outside of human control. Therefore, a rational environmental debate cannot be centered on the magnitude of human influence or the certitude of a solution if and only if competent individuals assert control over the earth’s climate. Both of these environmental angles are indefensible. Both are being used by today’s Enviro-generals! The fact remains, no matter how elegant the argument, it is a leap of faith to believe climate is significantly influenced by the activities of mankind. It is an even larger leap of faith to believe human beings are capable of controlling the climatic environment.
The only way to prove mankind’s influence on the global environment is to extricate mankind from the globe and observe the results. That’s impossible! The protest slogan for the “Chemically Neutral” movement should be: WE’RE HERE, WITHOUT FEAR, GET USED TO IT! But Enviro-generals feed on fear and anti-human fantasies. Undeterred by the embedded contradictions in their ideology, Enviro-generals use their public speaking skills to acquiring venture capital. They transform love and fear into weapon-like words and attack public emotions with unmitigated vigor. But why fight the environment? Why attack the public for trends they may have no control over at all? I believe these leaders would choose to be generals in any other war if environmental issues didn’t resonate so well in the public domain. Am I questioning their sincerity? Absolutely! A way to spot a disingenuous Enviro-general might be to look at the other wars they’re fighting or the level with which their own environmental hypocrisies neutralize their environmental positions. Some of the most outspoken Enviro-generals these days are fighting against America’s Long War, the Global War on Terrorism. They are anti-anti-terrorism. To poach soldiers and advocates from other wars, Enviro-generals are not constrained by the environmental issue alone. Therefore the environment may jest be a means to maintain their status and rank in the public eye.
Empirical arguments and reasoned solutions are an anathema to the Enviro-general’s goal. A thorough environmental solution might end their war and eliminate the platform on which they lead their troops. Right? No, not really. Not in this war. While comprehensive solutions lead to sustainable peace for conventional wars, the Global War Against The Environment (GWATE) cannot be won. Our war against the environment can only be fought or lost. Humanity’s existence puts us at odds with the green utopia environmentalists are fighting for today. Under their utopian paradigm, we are guaranteed to lose! But that doesn’t curb the illusion that peace between mankind and the environment is possible. The environment represents a perfect war for Enviro-generals. There is no environmental utopia! All of our choices have consequences. What’s at stake is the magnitude of those consequences. The fact is, the Garden of Eden is lost to mankind. We’re all exiles from Eden. Unlike the analogous illusion in the aftermath of World War I, the Global War Against The Environment (GWATE) is not the war to end all wars. The Global War Against The Environment is the only legitimate war to fight without forever. It may be hard to fathom but, imagine an American War without an Anti-War movement… oh the bliss. In this war, no matter what side you are on, we are all soldiers. But what are we fighting for? Conservation! Recycling! New Technology! --- No. Chemical Neutrality! The environmental debates are wholly sustainable if and only if mankind can reconcile the embedded conflicts within the current environmental movement. That’s not going to be easy. Whether these conflicts are resolved or not, our environmental wars will not end as long as human beings depend on a natural environment for survival. Like the Global War On Terrorism, (GWOT) the Global War Against The Environment (GWATE) all humanity can ally against a common enemy. While humanity need not live with terrorists indefinitely, we are obliged to fight with our environment forever. That’s why most societies set aside their differences to find common ground against a common enemy.
HUMINT: We cannot win this war but we can lose. What can this generation do to guarantee humanity does not lose this war? I believe the answer is to endure as allies through the pursuit of chemical neutrality! But that’s not what environmentalists are doing today. What’s missing today in the almost spiritual search for environmental salvation is a valid philosophy that marries economic progress to environmental sustainability. Let’s take a step back to enhance the clarity of this point. Without an appropriate philosophy, no appropriate identity will emerge. Without identity and the resultant behaviors born of it, their can be no population where best (environmental) practices will be adopted. Without a philosophically cohesive populace there can be no constituency and no legitimate popular sovereignty derived from it. In short, only limited progress can be made without identifying an environmental philosophy that reconciles economic progress with environmental sustainability. Buying green isn’t enough! Now is the moment for truth, not illusions. Buying green has a placebo effect on the masses because it is new spin on the old idea of conservation. It too will fail.
The many points of failure of prevailing environmental philosophy are irresolvable. Environmentalists and their movement’s generals that I talked to, listened to or read, tend to see the end-goal of human behavior as the reduced impact on, and the segregation of, people from pre-human environmental states. Admit it. Environmentalists are seeking to create Eden without Adam and Eve. Seriously, it’s as though they see the natural world without mankind as the Garden of Eden , a paradise without the possibility of human induced degradation. The ideal environment, as they imply, exists without the interference of mankind. No one can know for sure, but maybe this environmental philosophy is a derivative of the Christian conception of man’s relationship with the animal kingdom. If it is, it’s a common misinterpretation of the familiar biblical narrative. Why? It is a misconception because environmental philosophy contradicts itself. God created the animal kingdom and mankind. God then endowed mankind with authority over the animal kingdom. Adam’s and Eve’s expulsion from Eden was not a revocation of that authority. If the philosophical undertones of environmentalism are Judeo-Christian in origin, nothing suggests the philosophy hasn’t also been corrupted by a malignant hybrid of other failed or failing ideologies. Beyond Judeo-Christian misinterpretation, I also sense a blend of zoological elitism, socialist and theist philosophies that, when combined, invite repeated failures. In any case, where the flawed philosophy comes from is less important than understanding the need to supplant it.
To liberate mankind from the Enviro-generals and their misguided philosophies, the most obvious and straight forward approach would be to find a philosophy that marries economic progress to environmental sustainability. How? As we’ve covered before, total liberation, as proselytized by Enviro-generals, suggests mankind should abandon the earth to go on without us. That’s absurd. Local liberation implies that sections of the earth can be maintained pristine without interference from people who live elsewhere. That too is absurd. The only viable environmental liberation movement is to declare the pursuit of chemical neutrality and accept that it will take generations to achieve. The struggle will be long and arduous, but their can be no compromise with today’s philosophical contradictions. Pursuing chemical neutrality will change the way we think about the future of our economy and environment. Pursuing chemical neutrality will bring humanity into direct confrontation with itself. It is a task bigger than you or me. In the context of chemical neutrality, start abandoning the old environmentalist ideas of conservation now. Chasing efficiency is like chasing a rainbow. Efficiency through conservation should not be the pursuit of environmental foot soldiers as it is today. Saving a kilowatt-hour here or a ton of carbon dioxide there is only going to slow the inevitable --- whatever that inevitable scenario may be. This is true whether or not Global Warming is fact or “the sky is falling” fiction. The pursuit of mankind’s environmental liberation through chemical neutrality on the other hand offers a philosophy that embeds only one irresolvable conflict. Entropy! But we live with entropy today, as did our ancestors before us. It’s an unavoidable product of any action or reaction, even those that cancel each other chemically.
Operating in an economy that rewards action, while simultaneously rewarding the opposite/equal reaction – from a chemical perspective, humanity would stay environmentally happy, healthy, and prosperous. There would be no need to limit population density nor would it matter where businesses or individuals operate. Now, you might be wondering if “chemical neutrality” is philosophically different than the existing notion of recycling or buying green. Recycling today isn’t really recycling. It’s a fancy form of conservation. For the most part recycling is down-cycling. Plastics, paper, glass and metals are routinely degraded and reprocessed into commodities that will eventually end up in a landfill. Chemical neutrality is recycling at the molecular level and would demand more environmental awareness from individuals, business and governments than anything we do today. To move toward chemical neutrality civil, political and industrial leaders will have to find markets for products that can chemically balance their own or each others products. With the level of marketing genius and business acumen in corporate America today, I have no doubt it can be done.
IN CONCLUSION: This essay is a humble request for a tactical change and a thorough review of leadership in our environmental wars. And finally, I believe the first Enviro-general who leads the call to demand chemical neutrality will have fired the second “shot heard round the world” . Someone is going to do it. Will it be you?
1. www.crystalinks.com: The image is of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden which alludes to how Judeo-Christian values may position contemporary environmental philosophy as well as the issues fostering this generation’s environmental debates. The Garden of Eden represents paradise lost because of human fallibility. It is my assertion that the majority of environmentalists operating today are working for the extrication of mankind to preserve what they see as paradise.
2. wikipedia: The "shot heard round the world" is a well known phrase that has come to represent several historical incidents throughout world history. The shot was heard in Lexington. It was known to kill eight Americans and injure ten. The line is originally from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn (1837), and referred to the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Later, in Europe and the Commonwealth of Nations, the phrase became synonymous with the shot that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and plunged Europe into World War I.