The United Nations’ environmental agency recently named its “environmental heroes”. Judging by the results, the formula for anyone interested in being a “hero” in the eyes of the U.N. is to apply Herculean effort in a sufficiently misdirected manner, so as to best reflect the organization’s values.
Let’s have a look at a few of the winners:
First, there’s the British woman who plans to row across the Pacific Ocean and walk from London to Copenhagen, having already rowed across the Atlantic. According to a U.N news release, she wants to “encourage people to walk more, drive less.” What a quaint idea -- returning to our roots, when we used to run or row between villages or countries. If I could take months off from working, I might consider it. Then I could reclaim marathon titles from all the people whose countries boast untouched environmental beauty but no running water.
Environmental ideology has always been at odds with economic productivity: If people are ditching modern transportation and walking around everywhere, then they’re wasting valuable work production time. If a cap-and-trade air-trading system is implemented, then companies will be forced to reduce output to save money (or pass the cost to the consumer). If someone is standing out on the sidewalk handing out brochures to save the rainforest, then he’s not filling orders at McDonalds. Get the idea? Of course there are exceptions -- many corporations create products out of recyclable materials -- but they’re not (a) sufficiently wasting their time, or (b) approaching the task from a self-sacrificial financial position, making them unlikely to be getting any recognition from the United Nations anytime soon. Only martyrs need apply.
Meanwhile, the U.N. frets in a recent news release about humans in impoverished countries surviving weather patterns (aka “global warming”): “In coming decades, climate change will motivate or force millions of people to leave their homes in search of viable livelihoods and safety.”
Well, that’s why we have private industry creating opportunity and solutions where none exist. That’s how we got modern electrical air conditioning, for example. Not coincidentally, that isn’t a U.N. invention, either.
The second “environmental hero” -- the young David de Rothschild of England’s Rothschild banking family -- apparently plans to blow part of his trust fund on taking a catamaran made out of plastic bottles on a joyride across the Atlantic, sailing past the drowning polar bears and choking dolphins. Hopefully the boat won’t also feature an environment-raping propeller.