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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Does Conservation Really Mean?

I keep hearing calls for more conservation as a "solution" to the so-called energy crisis. But what does "conservation" mean? Here is the definition according to the Oxford Dictionary:
• noun 1 preservation or restoration of the natural environment and wildlife. 2 preservation and repair of archaeological, historical, and cultural sites and artefacts. 3 careful use of a resource: energy conservation. 4 Physics the principle by which the total value of a quantity (e.g. mass or energy) remains constant in a closed system.

So, if the environmentalists are calling for conservation does this mean they want us to "preserve" crude oil deposits? Do they mean that we should "preserve" them so that little children who now ride bikes will someday be able to access them? In other words, are they saying that they are not against consumption of crude oil per se but only present consumption? Are they saying they are all for consuming crude oil as long as it is not us doing the consuming? Do they really believe that people that do not yet exist should be the ones who consume it? Why should we save it for people that don't exist yet? Why not just use it? If we run out, the price will increase and people will find another source of energy.

Of course, this is not what the environmentalists mean by "conservation." A more accurate term to describe what environmentalists mean by "conservation" would be the term "destruction" or better yet "sacrifice".

They want us to live more like cavemen than modern man. In other words, they want us to use less earth to survive. But, humans can only survive by using the earth. Therefore, to argue that we should use less earth to survive is tantamount to arguing that we should live a poorer quality of life now. Furthermore, they do not want us to live poorer so that future men can live better as the term "conservation" implies. They want humans to adjust to simply living a poorer quality of life which in turn will lead to less humans. This is entirely consistent with the philosophy of intrinsic value. The environmentalist sees nature as intrinsically valuable, i.e., valuable apart from man's standard of living and therefore, man's nature is the logical enemy of the environmentalist as man must alter nature to survive.

It is time to challenge the Orwellian term "conservation" and force the environmentalists to define their terms explicitly.

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