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A buncha tree-huggers
Save the rainforests!
Watch that carbon footprint!
Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favor!? Well, maybe she should have thought about that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys! Nature started the fight for survival, and now she wants to quit because she is losing? Well, I say, hard cheese!
—Mr. Burns, The Simpsons[1]:239

Anti-environmentalism is a term referring to the political reaction and industry backlash against the burgeoning environmentalist movement of the mid-20th century. The rhetorical tactics used by anti-environmentalist groups are sometimes referred to as "green-baiting" in reference to the tactic of red-baiting and the style of argumentation is often referred to as "tobacco science" in reference to the tobacco industry's notorious denialist campaigns. The trend is also sometimes referred to as "brownlash", a play on "backlash".[2]

Anti-environmentalist figures and organizations rarely, if ever, use this term. They prefer to either present themselves as "skeptics" or as "concerned environmentalists" trying to refute "alarmist" elements within their ranks, more or less concern trolling actual environmental groups. Anti-environmentalism is, essentially, environmental denialism.

In France, some have referred to Larouchyism as being a virulent anti-environmentalist political ideology.[3]

Notable campaigns[edit]

In the United States and the rest of the world, there were (and still are) a number of notable anti-environmental campaigns:


See the main article on this topic: Denialism


"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." … Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Genesis 1:26

The Sagebrush Rebellion (1970s-1980s) and Wise Use (1990s-present) movements were not denialist per se. The movements opposed federal wilderness designation and National Park expansion, and called for existing public lands to be opened up to logging, mining, ranching, off-road vehicles, and oil drilling. They were especially popular in western U.S. states, like Alaska during the height of local opposition to the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act; Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona; and more recently the Pacific Northwest during the northern spotted owlWikipedia controversy. The Wise Use name came into usage and replaced the Sagebrush Rebellion name after the 1988 Multiple Use Strategy Conference organized by Ron Arnold, but was essentially a continuation of the same movement.[4] These groups remain active and popular in parts of the west, and it could be argued that something similar is happening in the east as well with such groups as West Virginia's hilariously-named "Friends of Coal".

2013 Greenpeace Arctic arrests[edit]

In September 2013, Greenpeace activists occupied Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya drilling platform in an attempt to stop Arctic drilling. One day later, the Russian authorities forcibly took control of the Arctic Sunrise, the ship that the Greenpeace activists have been using, by boarding it from a helicopter with a party of fifteen Federal Security Service officers in balaclavas, armed with guns and knives. At the time of the boarding, the Arctic Sunrise was in Russia's Exclusive Economic Zone but not within the safety zone around the oil rig, and permission was not sought to board it from the Arctic Sunrise's flag state, the Netherlands. The captain was separated from the crew, while other crew members and activists were held in the mess room. It is alleged that crew members and activists were punched and kicked during the forced boarding. These arrests provide cover for the Russian denial of anti-environmentalism.

Moral ideas[edit]

A few anti-environmentalists are more concerned about the suffering of animals in the wild[5][6] and less about ecological services, biodiversity, scientific and cultural value, and the romanticized idea of "freedom". This, and the presence of predators in the wild, is often used as an argument for "humanely raised meat" and against veganism. Whether it is an appeal to nature, or the idea that mass-domestication as a means for profit/food that destroys forests at an unsustainable rate is actually good for sentient life, is often vague.

Meanwhile, some optimistic transhumanists think animals in the future can be made happy.[7] This value system is sometimes more consistent with environmentalism (and veganism[8]) because long-term technological progress is the main goal, and the wise use of natural resources is necessary for human society to do that. Acknowledging the importance of biodiversity as a resource in a utopia, and a patience based on the (kinda depressing) idea that we've only caused a tiny fraction of the world's total suffering through inaction/conservation, is one way to combine environmentalism and utilitarianism.

If someone discovers the technological equivalent of Noah's Ark that could preserve all memetic, genetic, and scientific information about the biosphere, however, we'd be obliged to make a flood of mass-euthanasia to stop ecological competition.

Many anti-environmentalists are simply anthropocentric thinkers who willfully ignore the many lessons of the environmental sciences. Typical of anti-enviromentalists is to compound the ideas that "short-term environmental destruction doesn't matter in the long run" with conjectures like "exploitation or not, we're already doomed in the long run".

Revealingly — in the sense that a presumed environmental collapse is invoked to justify any and all extreme actions one may please — anti-evironmentalism isn't even all that different from the fringe Hard green mindset.

Then there are also a small demographic of Christian fundies that consider it an insult to God not to use the fossil fuels given to them and that climate change means that the Second coming is going to appear at an earlier moment. That, despite Jesus having explicitly told that he doesn't perform miracles just because people want it.

Finally, there's actually one sub-group which at least is morally coherent in their anti-enviromental staces: Efilism (life spelled backwards). They tend to have an extreme interpretation of that negative utilitarianism brought by Arthur Schöpenhauer (birth as a grave misfortune), but applied to every form of life on this planet. As a binary opposite of environmentalism, they seek to wipe out every form of life (humans included) on Earth to avoid the existential suffering they carry intrinsecally, taking our cursed world to a peaceful Venusian/Martian sterilized state. Unlike VHMENT, they claim not to be anthropocentric, although they don't believe in a "voluntary" extinction (at least beyond humans).

Techniques and rhetoric[edit]


See the main article on this topic: Astroturf


See the main article on this topic: Stereotype


Conspiracy theories[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Conspiracy theory

Hard-right conspiracy theorists also view environmentalism as a front for any number of the following:[18]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]



  1. This can be compared and contrasted with politicization of science and policy-based evidence making in that a powerful organization is attempting to interfere with the scientific process (i.e. the methodical collection of accurate information about reality and its dissemination to the public and/or utilization in technology and policy) in order to advance its own agenda. However, since the parties with the biggest stake in the (public) acceptance of misinformation in this case tend to be corporations rather than nations, the government per se is not necessarily going to be involved (though corporations do like to drag the government in in order to claim extra force and clout).


  1. Tim Delaney, Simpsonology: There's a Little Bit of Springfield in All of Us. Prometheus Books, 2008. ISBN 9781591025597.
  2. Manipulating Public Knowledge, University of Wollongong
  4. The Perversion of 'Wise Use', The Brooklyn Rail
  9. Organized Climate Change Denial "Played a Crucial Role in Blocking Domestic Legislation," Top Scholars Conclude, Think Progress
  10. The Propaganda Machine and Climate Change, Case Western Reserve University
  11. Smoke, Mirrors, and Hot Air, Union of Concerned Scientists
  12. US Chamber seeks trial on global warming, LA Times
  13. "Watermelon Marxists", American Stinker
  14. James Delingpole. "On the anniversary of Climategate the Watermelons show their true colours", The Telegraph
  15. Oh noes!
  16. Perhaps nothing exemplifies this as well as the recent "war on light bulbs".
  17. Watch Rush Limbaugh deny most of the major environmental problems of the last few decades in one fell swoop. (If you're a glutton for punishment.)
  18. Earth Worship: Environmentalism seen as police state precursor, Southern Poverty Law Center