Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Will wonders never cease?I've criticized the New York Times' Nicholas Kristoff before, but such a sensible article appeared under his byline yesterday that you have to wonder if he has an identical twin. He praises the Bush administration on an environmental matter, namely the use of snowmobiles in national parks:
So President Bush's compromise very sensibly will ban two-stroke machines in Yellowstone but will permit four-stroke snowmobiles, confined to the same roads that cars use in the summer. In the meantime, environmental groups are still trying to evict snowmobiles from Yellowstone by going to the courts.Not only does he question the fundamental truth of the New York Times -- that George Bush can do no right -- but he also contradicts a fundamental truth of the environmental movement: that humanity is evil.
Some environmentalists have forgotten, I think, that our aim should be not just to preserve nature for its own sake but to give Americans a chance to enjoy the outdoors. It's fine to emphasize preserving roadless areas and fighting development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, both of which are good causes, but 99 percent of Americans will never benefit from those fights except in a psychic way.I don't agree with Kristoff on the ANWR -- indeed, it's hard to square that portion of his column with the rest -- but his philosophical observation is dead on. The original idea behind conservation was to preserve wilderness so that people could enjoy it; it was only later that environmental fundamentalists decided that wilderness was good only if people didn't enjoy it. Areas of undeveloped land are desirable because they make the lives of people more pleasant; they're not good merely because people aren't there.
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