Socialists who believe that the world would be greener if the means of production were handed over to the people, which usually means nationalized by governments. Critics counter that much of the planet’s pollution has been created by governments and their agencies. • Anarchists who believe that governments are the main culprits behind environmental destruction and that a return to small, self-regulating societies is the only path to a better relationship with the planet. Critics counter that anarchic societies only work for small numbers of people and are not practical for the billions currently living on earth: Millions would starve if we tried to live the life they think we should. • Capitalists who look upon governments skeptically but nonetheless believe that cor - porations and people pursuing their own self-interests will be guided by Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” to protect the environment through the proper application of property rights. Critics complain that companies’ self-regard has caused many of the environ - mental problems we have today through cost cutting and use of the cheapest rather than the greenest fuels. These critics do not believe that companies can be trusted to do the right thing. • Liberals who accept that capitalism produces wealth but who believe that corporations would continue to act without regard for the environment unless they were controlled by strict laws and regulatory agencies. Skeptics fear that the agencies just end up being controlled by companies or pursue their own agendas and forget what their original func - tion was. There are also lobbying groups, environmental-protection societies, and government agencies with different beliefs on environmental protection. Some groups focus on single campaigns, such as saving a particular animal or environment from human destruction, whereas others present philosophical views on how we should live. In addition, there are millions of individuals who believe that something ought to be done about the environment but whose beliefs do not fall readily into a political or ethical philosophy. In turn, there are green businesses that sell environ - mentally friendly products and farm organically, as well as businesses that are eager to reduce their carbon footprint and invest in alternative energies. The founders of such companies believe that entrepreneurs can make a positive impact on nature by adjusting their behavior or by looking for new ways to create the goods and services we want. Free Market Response to Environmentalism On the opposing side are free market economists, such as George Reisman, who argue that environmentalism attacks our fundamental right to live and pursue happiness. “The environ - mentalists,” Reisman wrote, “view man as evil, because, in the pursuit of his well-being, man sys - tematically destroys the wildlife, jungles, and rock formations that the environmentalists hold to be intrinsically valuable” (Reisman, 1990, p.82). Reisman thinks that environmentalism is illogical and unethical and that all environmentalist proposals are contrary to human needs and desires. In
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- Spring '19
- Amy Smith