酷兔英语

Environmental sensitivity is now as required an attitude in polite society as is, say, belief in democracy. But now that everyone from Ted Turner to George Bush, Dow to Exxon has professed love for Mother Earth, how are we to choose among the dozens of conflicting proposals, restrictions, projects, regulations and laws advanced in the name of the environment? Clearly not everything with an environmental claim is worth doing. How to choose?

There is a simple way. First, distinguish between environmental luxuries and environmental necessities. Luxuries are those things it would be nice to have if costless. Necessities are those things we must have regardless. Then apply a rule. Call it the fundamental axiom of sane environmentalism: Combatting ecological change that directly threatens the health and safety of people is an environmental necessity. All else is luxury.

For example: preserving the atmosphere-stopping ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect-is an environmental necessity. In April scientists reported the ozone damage is far worse than previous thought. Ozone depletion not only causes skin cancer, it also destroys plankton, the beginning of the food chain atop which we humans sit.

The reality of the greenhouse effect is more speculative, though its possible consequences are far deadlier: melting ice caps, flooded coastlines, disrupted climate, parched plains and, ultimately, empty breadbaskets. The American Midwest feeds the world. Are we prepared to see Iowa acquire New Mexico's desert climate? And Siberia acquire Iowa's?

Ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect are human disasters. They happen to occur in the environment. But they are urgent because they directly threaten man. A sane environmentalism, the only kind of environmentalism that will win universal public support, begins by declaring that nature is here to serve man. A sane environmentalism is entirely anthropocentric: it enjoins man to preserve nature, but on the grounds of self-preservation.

A sane environmentalism does not sentimentalize the earth. It does not ask people to sacrifice in the name of other creatures. After all, it is hard enough to ask people to sacrifice in the name of other humans. (Think of the chronic public resistance to foreign aid and welfare.)

Of course, this anthropocentrism runs against the grain of a contemporaryenvironmentalism that indulges in earth worship to the point idolatry. One scientific theory-Gaia theory-actually claims that Earth is a living organism. This kind of environmentalism likes to consider itself spiritual. It is noting more than sentimental. It takes, for example, a highly selective view of the benignity of nature. My nature worship stops with the April twister that came through Kansas or the May cyclone that killed more than 125,000 Bengalis and left 10 million (!) homeless.

A non-sentimentalenvironmentalism is one founded on Protagoras' maxim that "Man is the measure of all things." Such a principle helps us through the thicket of environmental argument. Take the current debate raging over oil drilling in a corner of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Environmentalists, mobilizing against a bill working its way through the U.S. Congress to permit such exploration, argue that Americans should be conserving energy instead of drilling for it. This is a false either/or proposition. The U.S. does need a sizable energy tax to reduce consumption. But it needs more production too. Government estimates indicate a nearly fifty-fifty chance that under the ANWR lies one of the five largest oil fields ever discovered in America.

The U.S. has just come through a war fought in part over oil. Energy dependence costs Americans not just dollars but lives. It is a bizarre sentimentalism that would deny oil that is peacefully attainable because it risks disrupting the calving grounds of Arctic caribou.

I like the caribou as much as the next man. And I would be rather sorry if their mating patterns are disturbed. But you can't have everything. And if the choice is between the welfare of caribou and reducing and oil dependency that gets people killed in wars, I choose man over caribou every time.

Similarly the spotted owl in Oregon. I am no enemy of the owl. If it could be preserved at no or little cost, I would agree: the variety of nature is a good, a high aesthetic good. But it is no more than that. And sometimes aesthetic goods have to be sacrificed to the more fundamental ones. If the cost of preserving the spotted owl is the loss of livelihood for 30,000 logging families, I choose family over owl.

The important distinction is between those environmental goods that are fundamental and those that are merely aesthetic. Nature is our ward. It is not our master. It is to be respected and even cultivated. But it is man's world. And when man has to choose between his well-being and that of nature, nature will have to accommodate.

Man should accommodate only when his fate and that of nature are inextricably bound up. The most urgentaccommodation must be made when the very integrity of man's habitat-e.g., atmospheric ozone-is threatened. When the threat to man is of a lesser order (say, the pollutants from coal- and oil-fired generators that cause death from disease but not fatal damage to the ecosystem), a more modulated accommodation that balances economic against health concerns is in order. But in either case the principle is the same: protect the environment-because it is man's environment.

The sentimentalenvironmentalists will call this saving nature with a totally wrong frame of mind. Exactly. A sane-a humanistic-environmentalism does it not for nature's sake but for our own.
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生词表:
  • turner [´tə:nə] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.车工 六级词汇
  • greenhouse [´gri:nhaus] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.温室,玻璃暖房 六级词汇
  • speculative [´spekjulətiv] 移动到这儿单词发声 a.臆测的;投机的 六级词汇
  • ultimately [´ʌltimitli] 移动到这儿单词发声 ad.最后,最终 四级词汇
  • urgent [´ə:dʒənt] 移动到这儿单词发声 a.急迫的,紧急的 四级词汇
  • chronic [´krɔnik] 移动到这儿单词发声 a.慢性的;剧烈的 六级词汇
  • idolatry [ai´dɔlətri] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.偶像崇拜;过度崇信 六级词汇
  • sentimental [,senti´mentl] 移动到这儿单词发声 a.感伤的;多愁善感的 四级词汇
  • cyclone [´saikləun] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.旋风,飓风 六级词汇
  • dependence [di´pendəns] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.信赖,依赖 六级词汇
  • peacefully [´pisfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声 ad.平静地;安宁地 六级词汇
  • livelihood [´laivlihud] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.生活,生计 四级词汇
  • cultivated [´kʌltiveitid] 移动到这儿单词发声 a.在耕作的;有教养的 六级词汇
  • well-being [´wel´bi:iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.幸福;健康;福利 六级词汇
  • accommodation [ə,kɔmə´deiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.供应;调解;贷款 四级词汇
  • integrity [in´tegriti] 移动到这儿单词发声 n.完整;完善;正直 四级词汇
  • atmospheric [,ætməs´ferik] 移动到这儿单词发声 a.大气的;有...气氛的 四级词汇
  • lesser [´lesə] 移动到这儿单词发声 a.较小的;次要的 四级词汇
  • totally [´təutəli] 移动到这儿单词发声 ad.统统,完全 四级词汇