The way that we view the environment has drastically changed over time. There have been three main ways that Americans have viewed the environment since its founding; the first one is our founders view of caring for the earth. Then between 1900-1970 perspectives changed into what we call the Progressive view of environment. From 1970 to modern times, our outlook was even further changed. We call this new perspective the Contemporary view of the environment.
How do we view the environment today? Today’s view is basically summed up in one phrase: “all life is equal and has inherent worth.” That means that non-human life is equal (if not superior) to human life. The question that is generally asked when considering a new project for the environment is, “How does this affect non-human life?” (*Here is a poster that reflects the Contemporary view of our environment today.)
In many cases, we have set the worth of animals over our own worth. There is one radical website; vhemt.org (the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement) which believes that humans should die, because the environment would benefit from our extinction! Our government isn’t as bad as some radical environment agencies, but there is still a lot of this view in our government policies. An example of this would be the Endangered Species act, (ESA) which gives environmental government agencies the power to do whatever they want in order to protect a species or its habitat. It is powerful enough to undermine important functions of our government; such as the control of borders. If there is a potential habitat for a certain type of endangered species, The ESA can prevent the building of a border fence. Also, it can prevent our national defense from bombing ISIS trucks carrying fuel that could potentially harm the environment.
Our founders believed in a limited government, but during the early 1900s many people began to feel that you couldn’t protect the environment and have a limited government. So new environmental agencies were created to monitor the environment. The government would make legislation concerning these agencies and let them interpret it and make laws based on that legislation. The progressives had a different way of thinking about the environment though; they wanted to do things to help the environment for the benefit of the people, not the non-human life. They believed that the environment should be exploited, but in a non-harmful and guided way.
Our founders thought that we should make regulations concerning the environment in order to protect our life, liberty, and property. For example, they made rules concerning where a slaughter house could be put in a town/city, because they didn’t want to compromise anyone’s health. They also made regulations and laws about the polluting of rivers in order to protect the people. If it compromised a persons life, liberty, or property then it was important.
You can see how far we have come from our founders view of the environment. We need to rethink how we deal with the environment in our governement policies. You can’t live safely in a world where the lives of animals are placed in a higher regard than your own.