Re: Greens

Date: Sat Nov 18 2000 - 17:45:39 MST

"Green-bashing" seems to have become something of a sport on the list lately
(and one in which I engage on a regular basis). But I think it's important
to reiterate that extropianism is NOT a "develop-to-death" value system. In
fact, I'm an avid and active conservationist (I won't use the word
"environmentalist" to describe myself any more, for the same reason I've
reluctantly abandoned "liberal" in favor of "libertarian" -- the word has
been co-opted by a political movement with which I take deep exception.) In
fact, I concluded early on that the extropian principles are thoroughly
consistent with a vigorous conservation of wilderness. Five years ago I
posted the following to the list:

     - - - - - - -

Toward an extropian environmentalist ethic. The ideas and values expressed
within the extropian community are vigorously individualistic, find the
workings of the freest possible market systems as the best current
environment for incubating a positive future for humanity and challenge the
sacred cows of the fundamentalist "environmental movement." But the core of
extropian ideas also values compassion, generosity and a reverence for the
beauty and power of the natural living environment of the earth. This last
set of values is less well understood outside the extropian community and
there is apparently a common caricature of extropians as "selfish, greedy
despoilers of the environment".

By and large, extropians find that an "absolutist" evaluation of "nature" is
as evil as is a thoughtless destruction of the beauty that nature offers. The
hard questions come in deriving the right balance.

No "bright line" can or should be drawn between "nature" and "man". Humans,
their technology and their effect on their environment are "natural" because
consciousness and its products developed as part of the spontaneous order of
the terran biosphere. Thus the concept of a "natural" environment distinct
from humanity (or posthumanity), per se, is untenable. Furthermore, such a
concept of nature distinct from humanity is not helpful because, unless we
advocate human genocide, it is hopelessly vague and confused. But this
realization does not justify any human action.

For now, at least, Earth is the only planet of which we are aware that has
spontaneously generated a rich biosphere. This phenomenon is scarce. Raw
materials for an industrial society that can be found elsewhere than on/in
this planet, on the other hand, are not. Earth constitutes a tiny fraction of
the mass of the solar system. Even with the primitive survey of the solar
system we have already made, we know we can find and exploit elsewhere the
resources that an expanding industrial civilization needs.

Extropian environmentalism places a high value on the living wilderness
simply because it is rare and options exist and more will exist for the
continued technological development of consciousness other than consuming
those living wilderness zones. This does not place an unreasonably absolute
value on living wilderness, but simply makes preserving it as much as
possible one value among many, albeit a great value. Preserving living terran
wilderness zones is consistent with the value of spontaneous order simply
because life on this planet is, so far, the most complex example of this
phenomenon of which we are aware. If for no other reason, mere curiosity
about spontaneous order should lead us to interact with at least some of
these zones as little as possible, at least until we better understand the
processes that gave rise to them and by which they continue to operate.

Post-human beings will have the power to allow the planet that was their
cradle to continue to harbor biological life at least similar to that which
originally gave rise to them. We don't tear down the Louvre to build
apartment blocks, we build housing elsewhere. No one is significantly poorer
because of it and at least some people are much richer because of it. Thus,
along with buying wilderness zones for their value as such, a privatist
environmental ethic also looks to develop technological alternatives to
consuming these areas, as much as possible, so that the relative market value
of other options will spontaneously support maximal preservation of living
wilderness. This is not an absolutist ethic of "sustainable development", but
rather simply the economic value free people put on technological and
economic developmental pathways that impact the terran biosphere less rather
than more.

 - - - - - - - -

(which you can find at , along with
some links to material I find to be consonant with these views.)

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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