Enviro tyros

My fortnightly disquisition in the Catholic Thing is now published (here). One thousand words is a “disquisition” today, when anything longer than a topical aphorism will overreach the attention span of most Internet readers. But there are tiny minorities that should still be served.

The point of my piece is that, thanks to indoctrination, the great majority have “the environment” backward and upside down. They think it is about waste, pollution, endangered species, global temperatures, sea levels, the latest green technology, and so forth. True enough, we should avoid spoiling our terrestrial habitation, and I do not favour poisoning it. But that’s why I am generally opposed to massive environmental schemes. Each simplistic project, imposed by centralized guvmint “mandates,” will make things worse. But it prevails when the general public are intimidated by repetitive slogans. Prudence would require us to carefully examine, and reject, vast white elephant projects, that can be “sustained” only by ruinous taxation, both direct and indirect.

Whereas, my dated “conservation” ethic does not fixate on such imponderables as the health of Mother Earth. Rather it is focused on the human environment. It is implicitly local, and asks such questions as, What is it like to live here? Does this environment encourage man to his best behaviour? Will our proposal advance or subvert goodness, beauty, truth?

And will it do this concretely? Will what we build be better than what was here, or was once here? Or does it merely answer to abstract, inhuman, statistical criteria?


Richard Doyle, John Stirling, Neil Reynolds, Robert Royal. That is a complete list of good editors I have worked for, in the course of half a century of scribbling. The rest were glorified sub-editors. The good ones have promoted what ought to be said, and courageously defended the freedom to say it. A good editor has thoughts of his own, from personal experience and broad reading. He is a blessing to his environment. Bad editors have editorial “mandates.” They are just functionaries (often incompetent).

Rather than afflict me with obtuse fact-checker questions, the latest of these good editors responded to my most recent submission by grasping its key point. By way of acknowledgement, he ping’d back a quotation from “Le Cygne,” by Charles Baudelaire:

Andromaque, je pense à vous! Ce petit fleuve,
Pauvre et triste miroir où jadis resplendit
L’immense majesté de vos douleurs de veuve,
Ce Simoïs menteur qui par vos pleurs grandit,

A fécondé soudain ma mémoire fertile,
Comme je traversais le nouveau Carrousel.
Le vieux Paris n’est plus (la forme d’une ville
Change plus vite, hélas! que le coeur d’un mortel) …

Yes, Old Paris is no more. The form of a city changes more quickly than the human heart, hélas!