A couple of years ago seventh graders at a tony private school outside San Francisco were given an unusual Earth Day assignment: Make a list of environmental projects that could be accomplished with Bill Gates’ fortune. This approach to environmental awareness fits in well with the Obama-Pelosi-Reid worldview that the right to private property is subsidiary to undertakings that others think are worthwhile – the redistributive view of government. And how interesting that the resources made “available” for the students’ thought-experiment were not, say, the aggregate net worth of the members of Congress or of major league baseball players but the wealth of one of the nation’s most successful, innovative high-tech entrepreneurs.
Another Earth Day assignment for those same students was to read Rachel Carson’s best-selling book, “Silent Spring,” an emotionally charged but deeply flawed excoriation of the widespread spraying of chemical pesticides for the control of insects. As described by Roger Meiners and Andy Morriss in their scholarly yet very readable analysis, “Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic,” just published by the Property and Environment Research Center (Bozeman, MT), Carson exploited her reputation as a well-known nature writer to advocate and legitimatize “positions linked to a darker tradition in American environmental thinking: neo-Malthusian population control and anti-technology efforts.”