In one of the more perceptive pieces of commentary to appear in the Washington Post of late, Cinestate editor-in-chief Sonny Bunch made the astute observation earlier this year that “Environmentalists make good movie villains because they want to make your real life worse.”
Pointing to comic book movie baddies such as Aquaman’s King Orm and the Avengers series’ Thanos, Bunch noted how radical environmentalists “make perfect villains for our times: well-intended enough to often seem somewhat reasonable, but meddlesome busybodies whose hopes and dreams are to radically reduce standards of living in order to effect some utopian scheme or another that will return the world — or worlds — to an unsullied Eden.”
To some, it might seem hyperbolic to compare the militant, misanthropic environmentalism of superhero movie villains to the green activists of the real world. But more and more, our environmentalists have started saying the quiet part out loud.
“More poor people are eating meat around the world. That means they will live longer, healthier lives, but it is bad news for the environment,” read a tweet from The Economist’s official account on Tuesday.
Yes, explained the accompanying article, increased meat consumption is associated with increased wealth. “The main reason the Chinese are eating more meat is simply that they are wealthier.” Ditto African countries, whose meat imports are growing drastically. Plus, “Africans’ changing diets also create opportunities for local businesses” vis-à-vis food and livestock production and a bigger national supply chain, in turn creating yet more economic industry in these poor regions.
And yes, The Economist concedes that increased meat consumption will make people healthier. Whereas “Many African children are stunted” due to a lack of micronutrients such as Vitamin A; “iron deficiency is startlingly common”; and studies have found significant levels of anemia in women and children, “Animal products are excellent sources of essential vitamins and minerals” that are otherwise lacking in African diets.
But, you see, “On a planetary scale, the rise of meat- and dairy-eating is a giant environmental problem.” Increased meat consumption “will raise Africans’ collective contribution to global climate change,” ergo, bad.
Which raises the question of what, exactly, environmentalism is for. As Karol Markowicz asked, “Why are we saving the environment if not to help people live longer, healthier lives?” If someone can look at improved health, wealth, and community capital in developing countries and walk away with the conclusion “This is a giant problem because the environment,” then environmentalism has ceased to be concerned with human welfare at all. It’s nothing more than a pseudo-religious dogma whose operating logic holds that “It is better that a few million living Africans go sick, poor, and malnourished than risk the possibility that the Earth’s temperature rises a few degrees by 2100.”
Not to be outdone, on Tuesday, Newsweek published an op-ed by two psychology lecturers from the U.K. casually wondering just why is it humans are so darn set against cannibalism. “Cannibalism is found throughout the animal kingdom—so why is it the ultimate taboo for humans?” asked the headline.
Such up-is-down inanity reminds me of a tweet from my favorite internet satirist, dril: “the wise man bowed his head solemnly and spoke: ‘there’s actually zero difference between good & bad things. you imbecile. you f—ing moron.’”
“For humans,” the psychology lecturers wrote, “cannibalism is the ultimate taboo. In fact, our aversion to cannibalism is so strong that consent and ethics count for little.” “Ethics” here referring to the hesitancy humans have with regards to eating the flesh of another human being “even in the starkest of situations.” “[The] deep connection between personhood and flesh can mean that careful reasoning in certain situations over the merits of cannibalism is overridden by our feelings of repulsion and disgust,” they write, almost plaintively.
While the pair doesn’t expressly come out in favor of cannibalism as a replacement for animal products — “Thankfully for most of us, there is no need to overcome our repulsion for the foreseeable future” — they do note “Some philosophers have argued that burying the dead could be wasteful in the context of the fight against world hunger.”
Just how long, I wonder, might it take for someone to see the same merits of cannibalism in the context of the fight against climate change? After all, as Bunch wrote of the environmentalist villain’s mindset, “Global warming and other manmade problems are going to end the world if we don’t do something — so just about anything is justified!” Eating more human flesh could reduce reliance on flatulent cattle, which would help the environment.
Maintaining “a ranch that raises plump babies for human consumption,” as one philosopher cited in the Newsweekarticle hypothesizes, would reduce the carbon-producing human population as well, even further aiding the environment. Environmentalism already doesn’t care about making your real life worse. Why should it even care about life at all?