Maybe to have no life.
As this article over at the Ayn Rand Institute points out, the more “eco-friendly” you try to live, the more apparent the contradictions in that green philosophy become.
Everything we do to sustain our lives has an impact on nature. Every value we create to advance our well-being–every ounce of food we grow, every structure we build, every iPhone we manufacture–is produced by extracting raw materials and reshaping them to serve our needs. Every good thing in our lives comes from altering nature for our own benefit.
From the perspective of human life and happiness, a big “environmental footprint” is an enormous positive. This is why people in India and China are striving to increase theirs: to build better roads, more cars and computers, new factories and power plants and hospitals.
But for environmentalism, the size of your “footprint” is the measure of your guilt. Nature, according to green philosophy, is something to be left alone–to be preserved untouched by human activity. Their notion of an “environmental footprint” is intended as a measure of how much you “disturb” nature, with disturbing nature viewed as a sin requiring atonement. Just as the Christian concept of original sin conveys the message that human beings are stained with evil simply for having been born, the green concept of an “environmental footprint” implies that you should feel guilty for your very existence.
It should hardly be any surprise, then, that nothing you do to try to lighten your “footprint” will ever be deemed satisfactory. So long as you are still pursuing life-sustaining activities, whatever you do to reduce your impact on nature in one respect (e.g., cloth diapers) will simply lead to other impacts in other respects (e.g., water use)–like some perverse game of green whack-a-mole–and will be attacked and condemned by greens outraged at whatever “footprint” remains. So long as you still have some “footprint,” further penance is required; so long as you are still alive, no degree of sacrifice can erase your guilt.
The only way to leave no “footprint” would be to die–a conclusion that is not lost on many green ideologues. Consider the premise of the nonfiction bestseller titled “The World Without Us,” which fantasizes about how the earth would “recover” if all humanity suddenly became extinct. Or consider the chilling, anti-human conclusion of an op-ed discussing cloth versus disposable diapers: “From the earth’s point of view, it’s not all that important which kind of diapers you use. The important decision was having the baby.”
Environmentalists like talking about sustainability. The lifestyle that’s the most unsustainable is radical environmentalism.