The Pain in Feel-Good Environmentalism

Over six and a half billion dollars were given to environmental groups in 2006, according to the June 28, 2007 issue of “Chronicle of Philanthropy.” But how many of the good people who donated to these groups know that some of their money is used to thwart mining projects destined to help poverty-stricken people in poverty-stricken nations? The groups don’t publicize this fact.

For example, when you go on the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) website you see lots of pictures of adorable animals and stories of WWF projects to save gorillas and macaws. But they don’t publicize the dirty fact that they are working to bring down a mining project in Madagascar, the world’s third poorest country.

Most U.S. citizens care about the United States’ reputation in the world. Yet we’re turning a blind-eye to the developing world’s increasing resentment towards us caused by First-World environmental groups, who seek to impose their green values on the developing world and bring down much-needed projects. In our arrogance, we use our own land for large office buildings, factories, and shopping malls, but we can’t allow them to use their own land for a desired mining project, consigning the world’s poorer nations to slow—and in some cases no—economic growth.

But as Snezhina Kovacheva states, “(E)nvironmental mitigation is a value-added good. As a country’s wealth increases, its citizens recognize that a better environment enhances the quality of life. Accordingly, the population starts investing a larger portion of its greater resources into developing cleaner technologies.” As seen in the area of global warming, the United States was able to reduce its emissions (relative to GDP) further through energy efficiency, than those of the Kyoto-signers.

(This post also printed in this week’s Cooler Heads Digest.)