Humans Keep Out! Environmentalists Excluding People from Parks

by | Aug 5, 2001

“Humans — KEEP OUT” is becoming the new motto of Parks Canada. A Fraser Institute report — Off Limits: How Radical Environmentalists are Shutting Down Canada’s National Parks — documents how Parks Canada got hijacked by environmentalists who are blocking future development, restricting our access to beautiful places, and trying to revert developed areas back […]

“Humans — KEEP OUT” is becoming the new motto of Parks Canada. A Fraser Institute report — Off Limits: How Radical Environmentalists are Shutting Down Canada’s National Parks — documents how Parks Canada got hijacked by environmentalists who are blocking future development, restricting our access to beautiful places, and trying to revert developed areas back to their “natural state.”

Human enjoyment of the parks — sightseeing, golfing, hiking, skiing, biking, canoeing, camping — is being systematically sacrificed to environmentalist ideology. As long people believe that environmentalism is compatible with human enjoyment of nature (or anything), environmentalists will continue to prevent people from enjoying the parks. What makes these environmentalists tick?

Consider the bizarre case of unwanted trout. According to the report, certain environmentalists want to exterminate the “non-native” trout in Bighorn Lake, a popular fishing place near Banff, and leave the lake the way it was — empty of fish. Why? Because man — not nature — caused trout to be there.

Recall the natural fire that was allowed to torch Yellowstone Park in 1988, causing $150 million in damages and destroying a million acres of trees. Environmentalists qua Park Officials prohibited firefighting for weeks because the fire was “natural” and “fire is a benign rather than a malignant force.” According to the New York Times (Sept. 22, 1988): “They said they were trying to protect pristine areas from the destructive effects of bulldozers, fire engines, and irrigation pipes.”

In other words, the fire is not destructive because it’s “natural” — only man’s attempt to save the park from incineration is destructive.

When Taxol, processed from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree, was discovered to be highly effective in treating certain forms of cancer, environmentalists blocked people from harvesting the tree. Why? The tree must be left alone — at all costs.

Why should leaving nature alone be of such life-and-death importance? Because, according to Canadian eco-activists like David Suzuki and Harvey Locke, nature is “sacred” — in the religious sense. Writer Peter Schwartz succinctly explains this nature-as-sacred creed as follows: “Today’s man is told by environmentalists that he — like his primitive ancestors — must hold nature in quivering awe. He is to be, not the ruler of nature, but its obedient thrall. That is, he is to worship nature — as a God.” The Philosophy of Privation, published in The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, by Ayn Rand, Meridian, 1998).

Hence, any pesky mosquito, thorny bush, or cubic centimeter of bug-infested bear dung is sacred — if nature put it there. Natural fires mustn’t be extinguished; fish-less lakes mustn’t be stocked; trees mustn’t be harvested; man mustn’t be allowed in the parks. The anti-human nature of this creed was made explicit by David Graber (a biologist with the U.S. National Park Service): “We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free — flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value — to me — than another human body, or a billion of them.” Throughout history, people were told to sacrifice their lives to God, the state, or the Fuhrer — all with destructive (and deadly) consequences. Now, we are being told to sacrifice our lives to nature; and our governments are increasingly handing environmentalists the power to perform such sacrifices.

But if environmentalist ideology isn’t compatible with human enjoyment of nature, what is? The answer: industrialization and political freedom — the very things environmentalists vociferously oppose.

Enjoying nature, for many, consists of hiking, skiing, camping, etc., in the woods or mountains, enjoying the adventure, exercise and beautiful sights, sounds, smells. One could not enjoy nature if one’s life were immediately threatened by man-eating beasts, extreme cold, hunger, or disease. Nor could one enjoy nature if, as in pre-industrial societies, one had to engage in back-breaking labor all day to produce only the bare necessities of survival.

Thanks to industrialization — the “sin” of altering nature to suit man’s purpose — we now have the health, wealth, leisure time, longevity and hi-tech equipment to enjoy nature without being at its mercy (and to enjoy a “diversity” of other things that an industrial society offers). And many people today are willing to pay for the recreational use of pristine wilderness areas.

It is precisely the rejection of nature as sacred that makes enjoyment of nature, or anything, possible.

To personally enjoy anything presupposes that one values one’s own life and everything that enhances that life, including industrialization and everything it rests on, such as science, technology, and political freedom. But today’s environmentalists are busy trying to destroy these values.

Glenn Woiceshyn is a freelance writer, residing in Canada.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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