Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Al Gore’s Unconcern for People

Tibor R. Machan

Only a few sentences of Larry King’s recent interview with former Vice President Al Gore caught my eyes and ears but they were enough to confirm what I had been suspecting all along. Asked about his view of the famous Cambridge University astrophysicist Stephen Hawking’s idea that human beings need to prepare to eventually move into outer space, Gore flatly dismissed it.

Anyone who is seriously concerned about how human beings might cope with ecological problems here on earth would need to consider as at least one possibility the emigration of people from earth to some new frontiers. These would surely be possibilities worth considering by those who believe, honestly, that in some centuries or even decades to come, earth will no longer be capable of supporting human life.

In principle, the idea Hawking has floated, by no means original with him, is merely a logical extension of what has been happening on earth for as long as living things have been inhabiting it. The more there is of them, the further away they need to move from where they were initially hatched, as it were. Birds, fish, and humans—you name them. When they increase in numbers, they slowly extend the territory they can successfully inhabit. Not that this always happens smoothly or that it can happen rapidly. Living beings that are unable to change their environment on their own initiative have needed to slowly adjust to some of the new areas to which they had to migrate. But just consider one clear case in point: in time some fish move on to shore and managed to live there as land based animals.

But when it comes to human beings, the possibility of migration from earth to some other planets can be seen to be more promising that what the slow process of evolution illustrates with most living beings. That’s because human beings need not await the workings of natural selection in how they adjust to new regions where they can successfully survive and flourish. People are unique in large measure because they can choose to transform their environments, not merely evolve to be able to live in them. The evidence for this is overwhelming.

One of the flaws in the panicky kind of environmentalism Al Gore & Co., promote is that they ignore the human capacity for creativity and innovation. That flaw, of course, includes failing to seriously entertain the possibility that in time people will migrate away from earth, changing their new habitat to accommodate their needs and wants.

Not that such expansion of human habitation beyond earth may not involve missteps of various kinds. Just consider the problems already evident with the (largely government run) space program. But what I am talking about and what Professor Hawking referred to wasn’t some infallible process of changing how people live on earth to some other part of the universe. The point is that such a change is a clear possibility for which evidence is already accumulating.

The suggestion of this possibility, even if quite rational, would not impress someone like Al Gore, of course. If he took it seriously, it would remove from his propaganda arsenal the element of fundamental fear. No longer would it make much sense to hand over all our decisions to the environmentalists with Al Gore as the leader—or should I say “Fuhrer”? No, the idea that in good time people will recognize what they need to do to cope with the possibility of having used up the resources available to them here on earth strongly suggests that an unregimented approach to coping with the environment is preferable to one imposed on us from above.

What Gore & Co., clearly lack is the confidence that human beings, in the main, are fit to handle the problems that arise in their lives. Or might it be that they fear that confidence because it robs them of the chance to grab power over the rest of us? Seems to me that this is not such a remote possibility at all.

When Gore so quickly dismissed that people could well migrate from earth elsewhere to solve some of the problems he claims he is concerned about, this possibility suggested itself quite readily, at least to me.

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