Ron Arnold, an enemy of nature
I scanned the following interview from the latest issue of Playboy magazine. I've investigated more of Mr. Arnold's philosophy elsewhere and it is no less atrocious than what can be found here.
(Taken From: PLAYBOY magazine; may 2004)
Looking for a good fight? You don't need to travel far: The battles between environmentalists and the Bush administration have reached a fever pitch. The roots of the Republican policies can be found in Ron Arnold's 1989 book. The Wise Use Agenda, based on a landmark conference he conducted of property owners, snowmobilers, loggers and developers. Arnold, 66, a defector from the Sierra Club, is now executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. Dean Kuipers spoke with Arnold on the status of his agenda.
playboy: What was the original idea behind the term wise use?
arnold: To renew the conservation movement of President Teddy Roosevelt and his sidekick. Forest Service chief Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot once said that conservation is the wise use of resources. It's an attempt to revitalize the conservation movement against the "don't use it at all" thinking that has evolved in environmentalism.
playboy: What prompted the backlash?
arnold: By the mid-1980s the environmental movement had been taken over by professional managers and litigators. The notion of environmentalism was all-encompassing. They're not out to protect nature so much as they are out to stop any corporation from doing anything they think would hurt nature. Being human became a guilt trip. Paul Ehrlich called humans a cancer on the earth.
playboy: How did you get involved?
arnold: I began to realize that environmentalism was really about economic power. Its leaders wanted to allocate resources for the entire planet. Industry didn't realize this
wasn't a public-relations issue. They still believed, stupidly, that if you put out your message right, everybody would believe you. So I wrote to 20 or 30 groups and said, "If you've been hurt by environmental groups suing you or fighting your land permits, let's talk."
playboy: You met in 1988 in Reno and created a list of demands. Give us a few examples.
arnold: Number one was educate the public about the use of natural resources. Immediately develop petroleum resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Cut down remaining old-growth forests on public lands and replace with new trees. Cut down 30,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest each year to promote economic forestry practices. Open all public lands, including national parks, to mining and oil drilling. Construct roads into all wilderness areas for motorized wheel chair use. Stop protecting endangered species, such as the California condor, that were in decline before man arrived. Force anyone who loses litigation against a development to pay for the increase in costs for completing the project, plus damages. But the idea of wise use has become embedded. It's no longer a list like that.
playboy: Wise use has major appeal with snowmobilers.
arnold: Yes, and with people who use RVs, off-road vehicles, dirt bikes. They get involved because trails have been restricted to hikers. We'd like money to be spent on trails for motorized use.
playboy: Who is most likely to share your viewpoint?
arnold: Wise-use types are those who provide food, clothing, shelter, goods, transport and manufacturing. Environmental ideology ignores the fact that humans must get these from the environment. Environmentalism is an urban movement; the only people hurt by it are rural Americans. Most wise-use types live in the rural middle landscape between wilderness and urban development. If you support unreasonable restrictions in the belief you're saving nature from bad guys, you'll starve. We're sitting on probably the biggest pool of oil and gas in the world that's usable and easy to get, yet we're in thrall to the Mideast. What's better, drilling holes here, maybe dirtying some places and hoping
we can clean them up, or fighting a bunch of wars? Do you think Iraq was the final war? I don't think so.
playboy: People don't trust industry to figure out how many trees to cut down and not ruin things.
arnold: No, I don't think they do. It's not a matter of trust. Stumps don't lie, as environmentalists say. There is a criminal section of the environmental movement, and it's probably getting money from the aboveground sector. Some of the environmental movement is simply anti corporate; some of it is more ideological. Environmentalists tend to be catastrophists, seeing any human use of the earth as damage. A popular motto is "We all live downstream"-the view of a hapless victim. Wise users tend to be cornucopians, seeing themselves as stewarding and nurturing the earth. A wise-use motto is "We all live upstream"-the viewpoint of responsible individuals. Environmentalism promotes guilt, which degenerates into pessimism, self-loathing and depression. Wise use promotes feelings of competence, generating curiosity, learning and optimism.
playboy: President Bush hasn't been unfriendly to your agenda. His Interior secretary. Gale Norton, came from the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which is former Interior secretary James Watt's outfit.
arnold: We have dozens of wise-use people in the Bush administration. But some of them won't return my phone calls now. We haven't spoken to Karl Rove since Bush won.
playboy: What about the greens?
arnold: The establishment interventionists-the Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society-work to hamper property rights. They emphasize the need for natural diversity and in some cases to own and manage wildlife preserves. The ecosocialists- Greenpeace, Native Forest Council, Maine Audubon Society want to dislodge the market system with public ownership of re sources run by environmentalists in an ecological welfare state. The deep ecologists-Earth First, Native Forest Network-want to reduce industrial civilization and human population. Ecoideologists fetishize nature to where we can't permit ourselves errors with the environment. It's easy to throw rocks at industry, because everybody can think of a corporate abuse. But there are also problems with ecoterrorism, both in giving too much and not enough power to law enforcement. Under the Patriot Act the FBI can't keep a database of people suspected of being subversive or working with enviroterrorists unless they've been convicted. Some nonprofits have assembled databases on ecoterror. The mink farmers have done it. We want to be able to make this information accessible to police.
playboy: Have environmentalists fired up your grass roots?
arnold: Our grass roots include fur farmers and construction types. Construction guys deal in barroom politics-it's usually just chitchat. But when somebody burns down your $50 million apartment complex two weeks before it's supposed to open, it's not chitchat anymore.
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