To follow up on yesterday’s post, it has become more clear than ever how land use decisions are the place where every tenant of environmentalism is applied, yet the centrality of land use, like the centrality of population demographics, is rarely the focus of environmental discussions. But if population demographics provide the primary preconditions for environmental challenges we face, land use decisions provide the primary evidence of what ideology and values we choose to apply to these challenges.
From that standpoint, based on the ideology that informs land use decisions today, private property and economic liberty the endangered species, and environmentalist elites are leading the charge. And as we’ve tried to point out, the irony is when private property rights and economic liberties are undermined, the environment is the biggest loser of all.
Land use decisions in the USA are dominated by a coalition of powerful environmental groups, mainstream media, and virtually all entrenched forces within government, whether it’s the professional planners, elected officials, or public sector unions. In practice, the collection of ideologies these interests promulgate – smart growth, new urbanism, carbon offsets, open space, environmental protection & mitigation in myriad formats – is monolithic and dogmatic and presented to the public as beyond debate. While private interests are aware of this mismatch, generally their challenges to the conventional wisdom are piecemeal. They lack the big picture rhetoric that is arrayed against them, rhetoric that employs grandiose terms such as “smart growth principles,” “new urbanism,” and “global warming impact.”
A sad example of how monolithic the smart growth mantras have become was discovered when I challenged the professional arborists on the list serve they have on www.treelink.org. I love this website – because it has one simple, noble mission, to help people plant trees in the urban environment, where they are needed the most. I have planted trees since I was 12 years old. I have grown from seed and given away thousands of trees; I’ve planted thousands of trees; I’ve been an urban forester for decades. It has been a healthy obsession, a labor of love. Except perhaps for the waves in the ocean, there is nothing more beautiful than a tree.
As I noted yesterday, I have been monitoring TreeLink’s list serve, and couldn’t help commenting on what I felt was a conflict between the smart growth principle of high density housing, and the need to find room to grow trees. And from the responses I got, it appeared the preference among these arborists, most all of whom work in the public sector, was that trees belong on public land, and that people shouldn’t be allowed to own enough private property to allow room for them to have trees. So in the next few posts I am going to share with EcoWorld’s audience some of the comments I made on TreeLink’s list serve.
We will return to green technology in subsequent posts. Because who cares if we clean up pollution if while we’re doing it, we create a society where only the super rich can afford to own a decent sized piece of land? A society where only a government employee can care for a tree – on government land?