Saturday, April 23, 2011


For this Black Sabbath edition of ‘Holy week in the Philippines 2011,’ I thought an ‘Earth Day’ theme would be appropriate.

One of the more profound moments in the gospel is where Jesus tells the dogmatic Pharisees, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

This has relevance to the highly politicized issue of environmentalism, where emotionally misguided tree-huggers tend to support policies that exacerbate the depletion of natural resources.

The world, with its economic resources, is ultimately for the satisfaction of man’s desires. Man necessarily exercises power over nature, and as long as we are human, we could not escape from this paradigm. It is ridiculous, downright nonsense, to preserve forests or species for preservation’s sake; there is always some utility derived from our actions. We always weigh our differing preferences, for example, the enjoyment of a certain forest view and protection from floods, to the use of logs for the creation of everyday supplies.

It is private ownership that maximizes utilities derived from economic resources. Unfortunately, people and politicians mistakenly lament how, say, ‘profiteers’ are wiping out forests, which leads to the enforcement of log bans. They do not realize that it is the lack of reforestation and not the logging in itself that makes for unfavorable environmental conditions.

Why would conscienceless corporations bother replanting trees in government property, when the land they take from is not theirs? And who’s to stop shady deals from happening, when government officials maintain control of these forests in spite of the absence of entrepreneurial (consumer-driven) considerations?

When government control is removed, it is the profit incentive that drives private owners to maintain their supply of natural resources, so as to continue making money. The enforcing of private property rights makes for long-term sustainability.

As for resources that are not as replenishable as trees, e.g. oil, private owners would indeed seek to maximize their profits and extract as much as would be patronized by consumers. Simultaneously, other sources, as well as alternative resources, would be in the process of development. It is advantageous to all that such coveted resources are owned by competing private owners, as opposed to one coercive body.

In seeking protection of the environment, we must always be mindful that our purpose is practical; to live apologetically for the use of Earth’s resources is delusional.

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