Swimming in the path of progress
So a ragtag bunch of anti-industrialists has headed out to sea in boats made with petro-chemicals and powered by fuel oil to protest about oil exploration and the prospective production of petr0-chemicals 30km off the coast of New Zealand.
Meanwhile, a year on from BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Gulf of Mexico (the former economic Dead Sea) has been oil-free for seven months and enjoying more fish stocks than it has ever had, and the Gulf Coast itself has largely recovered.
“The spill was a disaster, but it was not the catastrophe that many people were portraying,” said Ivor van Heerden, a marine scientist who once headed the Louisiana coastal restoration programme for the state’s fragile eco-system of wetlands.
It’s the catastrophe that wasn’t. A non-catastrophe that will still help make offshore drilling better, cleaner and safer. A non-catastrophic oil spill that is still nonetheless the touchstone for most of the unwashed. Sure, as Don Boudreaux points out,
oil spills are compellingly photographable – and, hence, attention-getting and emotion-stirring. In contrast, lower prices for – which, by the way, mean fewer resources used to bring to market – clothing, children’s toys, digital cameras, camping equipment, kitchen appliances, groceries, and other goods that we routinely enjoy are not photographable in any compelling way. The result is that the social benefits of corporate innovations and competition are easily overlooked, ignored, taken for granted, forgotten. But these benefits are enormous.
Precisely because the logic of environmentalism, as practiced by the anti-industrialists, is to deny man’s needs and the requirements of his survival—to deny the benefits they themselves enjoy—to follow instead a path which would logically lead to a society without technology. Even the technology that allows these people to sit, quite literally, in the path of progress.