By Jason Georges, Executive Director of The Bible Nation Society
Recently, the media was a buzz with environmental topics surrounding the celebration of Earth Day. However, this year more than previous years, the capitalists of our day “capitalized” on the event. Local grocery stores began selling reusable shopping bags. Manufacturers began promoting products made from recycled materials. Capitalism was going green. To the Environmentalist this must be “anathema” that someone might profit from the earth. Environmentalists would have us to believe man has enslaved the planet to whom reparations are now owed. It has been said that capitalism works every time. In a free society capitalism will even thrive in an environment where it is considered the enemy.
Capitalism is often defined as pure greed, which it can often devolve into. The Environmentalist then blames corporate greed as the cause of the planets hypothetical problems. However, is the ethical capitalist, who is guided by Biblical principles an enemy of the planet? In reality, the Bible advocate is the best steward of the earth.
Preservation of Renewable Resources
The ethical capitalist understands that his future profit is dependant on the preservation of resources to continue to produce goods. History tells the story of many capitalists who over extended a resource, the fishery that was over fished, or land which was over farmed. As greed overpowered the prudence of stewardship, resources were depleted and ultimately a successful business failed. The principles of capitalism worked. In contrast, the ethical capitalist manages the resource motivated by continual annual profits thereby making him the best steward of the land, because his life depends on it.
Conversely, the Environmentalist insists that the Earth never be touched by man. He believes that the planet is the best steward of itself. This summer the news will again be filled with reports of out of control wildfires. It is not by accident that California will be plagued by many of these fires. The Environmentalist agenda of “not to touch” the Earth has predominated the politics and policies of California. The unmanaged land has now become thick with undergrowth which makes the land ripe to destructive fires. The best manager of the Earths renewable resources is the man whose livelihood and existence depends upon it.
Ingenuity of Replacing Finite Resources
The ethical capitalist understands that certain resources have a limited supply, although not as limited as we are led to believe. This understanding causes the ethical capitalist to become ingenious in his use of finite resources. He is driven to preserve profit. Therefore, he develops technology that allows him to become more efficient, using less of the resource to produce the same amount of product. By doing this he saves cost by using fewer raw materials and preserves the resource by extending its longevity. The ethical capitalist also spends resources to discover new technology that will allow him to produce the same product from a different and hopefully cheaper, renewable resource thereby ensuring his continual profits. History has shown that capitalism rooted in Biblical principles will produce the most energy efficient, resource saving business models.
The Environmentalist takes a different approach. He encourages government intervention to manage finite resources. This comes in the form of excessive taxation of the resource or even denial of access to the resource. A nation is divinely blessed with natural resources (see Design & Destiny of Nations: Location), but the Environmentalist will deny their use by establishing “not to touch” federal wilderness areas. Fear of potential oil spills has prevented the utilization of natural oil reserves. This management is not led by profit or efficiency but by an improper worshipful view of the planet. To never cut down a tree or kill an animal is to forfeit a God given responsibility to utilize and manage resources. The Environmentalist has elevated the creation above the creator and demoted man to the bottom of the hierarchy of creation.
A Biblical Model: Work, Subdue, and Dominion
Genesis 1:26-28, “ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth…. and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
The Genesis garden describes principles of ethical capitalism which promotes a healthy environment. The first principle is the idea of Work or labor. Work existed before the Fall and was part of the expectations for Adam living in the Garden. The ethical capitalist understands that profit comes from labor whether physical or intellectual.
The second principle is the idea to Subdue or control. Adam was to inject his will upon the environment. The tending of a garden requires the gardener to project his vision upon the physical environment. The ethical capitalist understands in order to maximize profits he must shape the land.
The third principle is the idea to have Dominion or manage. Adam’s work in the garden would never be complete. Through observation and experience Adam would continue to manage resources to ensure continued profits. This became of even greater importance following the Fall as the possibility of extinction and introduction of pestilence were added to the equation. The ethical capitalist understands to ensure continued profits he must manage the resource.
So long as the ethical capitalist is free to exert control over his property both intellectual and physical he will thrive. The Bible advocate understands that he has the proper perspective on the planet’s resources and is best suited to influence our national environmental policy.