Keep Humanity in Earth Day

Washington, D.C., April 21, 2010—This year, the Competitive Enterprise Institute urges those celebrating Earth Day to remember that human beings are part of the natural world, too. For too long, activists have emphasized concerns about environmental degradation while ignoring the health, safety and prosperity of the world’s poorest citizens. By embracing a new environmentalism based on property rights and free markets, we can all help build a world where environmental and human values coexist in harmony. 

“In the forty years since the first Earth Day, many well-intentioned environmental policies have racked up a shocking butcher’s bill of unintended consequences,” said CEI Vice President for Strategy Iain Murray. “From the ban on DDT which led to millions of unnecessary deaths from malaria to ethanol mandates which have increased food prices and led to starvation around the world, the human impact of green policies often go unacknowledged – and unaddressed.”

The political and economic inequality between wealthy nations and their developing world neighbors has created a two-tier system that has rightly been termed “eco-imperialism.” Western fears – often exaggerated or unfounded – end up disparately impacting the lives of families thousands of miles away. In addition to the unconscionable longtime ban on DDT for anti-malaria use, unscientific opposition to genetically modified agriculture now threatens to become a disastrous setback in the race to feed a growing world population.

“The solution to many of these problems will come from two areas,” said Murray, author of the best selling book on environmental policy The Really Inconvenient Truths. “First, donor nations must abandon the idea that a small elite of international bureaucrats know what’s best for every country in the world – or that the same risks and tradeoffs that make sense for the United States are equally valid in Senegal, Paraguay and Bhutan.”

“Second, we need to create a far greater role for private ownership and property rights in environmental policy. There’s a reason why Bengal tigers are critically endangered and domesticated cattle are not, despite high levels of demand for products from both animals. Allowing individuals and local communities to exercise legal ownership of natural resources gives them a potent motive to act sustainably.”


For information on how free market principles can help safeguard environmental quality and make the nation (and the world) greener, healthier and wealthier, see the this CEI guide:


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