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Don’t fret folks, I am still plowing my way through the ecology literature. I thought I’d delight you with this short sentiment from Barry Commoner’s The Closing Circle (this quote from p. 37 of the library edition I have):

Any major man-made change in a natural system is likely to be detrimental to that system.

You’ll find this quote particularly ironic when I begin to share with you what I learned about the Park Service’s disasterous wildlife management policy, especially in Yellowstone, over the years.

4 Responses to “I Wonder What They’d Say About the “Natural System” of Economics?”

  1. Harry says:

    Wintercow gets fifteen platinum tough guy stars for plowing through the writings of Barry Commoner.

    File this one under Begging the Question, too.

    Barry Commoner’s claim to fame was the successful shutting down of nuclear energy in the US, culminating in the default of WPPS bonds in Patty Murray Land. That is not ad hominem toward Patty Murray nor Barry Commoner.

    Now, tonight I saw Patty Murray wearing 2″ heels on the Senate floor, and because she was not wearing tennis shoes with Dick Durbin standing behind her, she is wrong to vote to table the bill — that IS ad hominem.

  2. Harry says:

    I realize one eventually has to get back to axioms, including those of us who argue for natural rights. One is obliged to be clear about what one means by natural, and what one means about rights. Barry Commoner hopes we will accept his peculiar notion to begin with.

    It is ironic that he excludes man from the natural world, or, to be politically correct, men and women. Whom is he trying to convince?

  3. Harry says:

    I also note the qualifier “major”. In comparison to what?

    If one lives between Boston and Washington, it is easy to overestimate how major our influence is over nature. After all, it looks like an anthill.

    Well, a prosperous anthill, far more prosperous than any anthill ever was.

    Yet it is a conceit to compare human influence to the force of nature, which in a few minutes devastates Joplin, MO, or northern Japan.

  4. Rod says:

    In its natural state — where the direct effects of man might be the clearing and tilling of land and where that was not what the land around here looked like before the white man cleared it and built my 300-year-old home on it — the land here in Montgomery County, PA, was mostly a cedar forest, and before the industrial revolution came along, its value was next to nothing, even as a source of food and cover for wildlife. Tell me how its development by man made it less valuable to any ecological system by converting it to farmland or to the site of a mill or any other industry.

    I remember the first Earth Day. Walter Cronkite whipped everyone up with his special way of pronouncing words (he could make any statement sound profound just by the cadence and tone of his voice): “Can the world be saved?” he asked. Then that Indian guy would flash onto the TV and let a tear loose at seeing a bag of roadside trash. I was teaching school then, and our headmaster was a big sucker for any new fad that came along. So we had an entire chapel period and the class period following it devoted to letting self-appointed guardians of the planet speak to their fellow students, who were missing a test in my English class. Only one kid — a brave kid — stood up to challenge the idea that the world would not end if we continued to package Big Macs in styrofoam. The kids booed him and called him stupid.

    It is plainly evident that all of the predictions of ecological doom have not come to pass, including global warming. So now it’s climate change that will cost us some fuzzy figure of economic harm, and where the rules of the argument are such that any result, plus or minus a little or a lot, will prove the 50-page document true.

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