Monday, May 12, 2003

Manon of the Spring

Glenn Reynolds (Hat Tip: Instapundit) observes that millions of Third World nonpersons may have died to satisfy the fantasies of western "environmentalists". In particular, he cites the mindless opposition to the use of DDT to stop malaria and the proscription of genetically modified food products. Anyone who has studied the subject knows that the equivalent of several 747s worth of people die each day in Africa because they can't spray against malaria, despite the scientific urgings to do so. It's well known that thousands of tons of food identical to that consumed by people in America can't be distributed in Africa because of pressure from the Green Lobby in Europe.

It's rather worse than that. The instances that Glenn Reynolds cites are just the tip of the iceberg. The policy input of First World lobbies on Third World policies is pervasive, and operates largely as an unwritten conditionality to foreign aid and foreign debt. They range from health policy ("planned parenthood"), to "gender issues"; to forestry policy ("no forest plantations"); to national security policy. The role of Europe in the CPP-Philippine government negotiations corresponds to the role played by Islamic countries in "peace talks" with the MILF (the Islamic countries are technically not first world, but their influence in Europe is enormous).

None of this is necessarily bad in general, but it is often disastrous in particular. It is the outcome of a deadly confluence of circumstances: the extreme weakness and imbecility of local public policy formulation, coupled with the aggressive and often underhanded campaigns of ideologues at every level of the international bureaucracy.

The comparison of First World environmentalists to "Marie Antoinette and her courtiers dressed up as peasants and shepherds. They invented a phoney authenticity and pretended to live the simple life while the real French peasantry was close to starvation ..." will be familiar to those in the West who boggle at the prices of "organic food" and "natural homes", or "environmentally friendly" cars, none of which can be afforded by the average working stiff. That's why the Greens remain a minority political force in most First World countries; because they are too dangerous to be let into power. But to satisfy them, they are often allowed to experiment with the lives of Third World people, who after all do not vote.

And it makes the Greenies feel so good.