Friday marked the publication of Roger Scruton’s latest book, How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism (Oxford University Press). It’s the book I always wanted to try to write about how conservatives ought to think about the environment, if the ridiculous environmental movement wasn’t fixed in the way of sensible thought and action. (As I like to taunt the greens: the environment is much too important to be left to environmentalists—they’ll just make a mess of it. And they have.)
Scruton is one of the major figures in Anglo-American philosophy, and it is difficult to summarize his book in a short blog post, beyond saying that he believes we should rest our environmentalism on “oikophilia,” love of place—meaning, our local places. In other words, instead of “Think Globally, Act Locally,” as the bumper sticker slogan goes, Scruton argues we should think locally, too. As one might expect from a British conservative, there’s a lot of Edmund Burke in the argument.
There are lots of original and provocative assessments in the book. Here are just a few samples:
And this is one of the constant laments of all environmentalists: every solution that seems perfect in theory seems to fall apart when put in the hands of government. . .
By confiscating risk the modern regulatory state both diminishes human resilience and expels from our social experience the one factor that is needed if future generations are to be protected from our greed, and that is the sense of responsibility—the sense that I, here, now, am answerable to others, there, then.
In due course I’ll be reviewing the book for National Review, but interested readers should take note of the conference I am hosting on the book this Tuesday, June 5, at AEI, starting with a lunchtime lecture by Roger, and continuing with responses and panel discussion from Mark Sagoff, Keith Kloor, Dan Sarewitz, Ken Green, and me. For those outside of Washington, the event will be webcast live through the link above.