Deirdre McCloskey writes:
It seems to me that a political philosophy based on fairy tales about what happened in history or what humans are like is going to be less than useless. It is going to be mischievous.
Do read the whole thing. I was all prepared to write a legendary (not in a good sense of the term) blog post, but I decided against it after reading McCloskey's piece.What about? I decided to ask the folks on my campus to explain whether in fact they measured and knew if their recycling program produces actual environmental benefits and at what cost. I even asked for an id so that I could access the information that they linked to in the blog post. I understand folks are busy, but I'll leave it to your imagination to figure what kind of response I received. I'll leave it at that. Every single interaction I seem to have with an advocate of sustainability (of course, I am not such an advocate, as I hope for all of our fish to die, our water to evaporate and so on) reminds me so much of this classic analysis.
It seems to me that if the best you can do is appeal to sustainability as being "cool" or to appeal to acts and not results, sacrifices without redemption, benefits without costs, intended effects without unintended ones, and imply that anyone who questions the sustainability doctrine is evil, dangerous and an enemy, then in fact your philosophy is mischievous. It is certainly beyond the realm of reason and discussion.