Consider the extraordinary position of the liberal. Most liberals are environmentalists; and most liberals pro-abortion (at least in the sense of favoring a law that, in effect, permits abortion with impunity).
Now, most liberals are, to their credit, not the sort of environmentalist who openly regards human beings as a cancer upon the earth. That hard-core anti-humanist is to all appearances confined to a fringe of lunatics.
Accordingly, liberals usually ground their environmentalism on some notion of obligations to posterity. Almost no liberal preachment neglects to feature prominently appeals to the welfare of “our children and grandchildren.” We are told must preserve the natural resources available to us, and reduce their extraction, refinement and disbursement, in order to provide for future generations.
Thus (though the premise is not frequently propounded in full candor) the usual liberal prescription for environmental policy is to make that extraction, refinement and disbursement more expensive. Make these things more expensive and we’ll get less of them. The President himself was once heard, in an unguarded moment, talking of energy prices that would “necessarily skyrocket” under his policies. His Energy Secretary has spoken with even more startling, impolitic frankness.
The environmentalists have also undertaken a divestment campaign. They are agitating, how effectively I know not, for endowment funds, pension funds, and other institutional investors to divest themselves of stock and other holdings in firms in the extractive and energy sectors. This will, it is supposed, weaken and eventually extinguish these firms as going concerns, with the ultimate consequence as a dramatically more straitened (i.e., expensive) energy industry.
A policy designed to make raise energy prices, and subjugate the fossil fuel companies, is perforce a policy designed to make Americans poorer, with the burden of this austerity resting proportionately more on Americans of lesser means who must dedicate a larger share of their income to energy.
But here is my point: Often the selfsame liberal who refuses to grant even already-conceived members of future generations a right to life, asks us all to embrace drastic austerity programs in deference the claims of future generations. It is very difficult to perceive how this liberal expects to be taken seriously. Human beings, though already conceived into natural life, exert no claim to the legal protection of that natural life, which anyone else is bound to respect; meanwhile, prospective future human beings, not yet extant at all at any state of development, can lay claim to a portion of our resources sufficient to necessitate some very austere policies indeed.
It is divestment of a particularly bizarre and lethal sort. Claims of obligation to future generations perdure right up until those generations are conceived as actual human beings, rather than abstract conjectures of future life suitable for props in a lecture about dire environmental consequences of fossil fuel use.
It is as if the very conception of a new and unique human life precisely divests that particular human being of the rights claims which a moment before were strong enough to bind all his predecessors to his prospective interest. And the divestment is severe enough that that particular human being is, at his conception, subject to death for any reason whatsoever. Perhaps he turns out to be a she. That is reason enough. Perhaps he turns out to be an inconvenience. Reason enough. Perhaps he turns out to be of diminished mental capacity. Reason enough and more.
Personally, I’m going to insist that liberals manage to resolve this conundrum (which is purely of their own making) before I find the patience to hear their fulminations on climate change. Basically, I’ll respect only environmentalists who are pro-life; for those who favor liberal abortion laws undermine any claim they make to true concern for future generations.