Some Questions

Dalrymple was recently annoyed by a letter with the leading question, “Do you care about the health of our planet?”

Frankly, the answer is that I don’t. Planets, unlike dogs, are not the kind of thing I can feel affection or concern for. My bank account occupies my mind more than the health of the planet. I am not even sure that planets can be healthy or unhealthy, any more than they can be witty or self-effacing. To call a planet healthy is to make what philosophers used to call a category mistake. This is not to say that I wish the earth any harm; on the contrary. Indeed, in a multiple-choice examination, I might even tick the box for wishing the world well rather than ill, at least if I had any reason for wanting to pass.

But of course that’s not in keeping with the zeitgeist:

…the expression of high-flown sentiment is now taken by many as the major part or even the whole of virtue. The most virtuous person is he who expresses the most all-encompassing benevolence at the highest level of abstraction. I felt like writing back to the editor of the Lancet (only he wouldn’t read it) that I disagreed with his discriminatory planetism: that I cared only for the health of the universe…

2 thoughts on “Some Questions

  1. Carolyn Kunin

    A very sane and rational attitude. I am always amazed that scientists seemingly choose to ignore geological history and are quick to assume, with the help of “models”, that humans are responsible for changes that they see in climate, and therefore can reverse it. This is far from clear at this point.

    Our ancestors survived an ice age with little more than animal skins and caves, surely we can do as much.

  2. Jaxon

    ‘conservatives’ and the environment, planetary boundaries etc. Have any of you read Green Philosophy by Roger Scruton?


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