ADVANTAGES

Although their language is less certain and less righteous, economists today are by and large still true believers in progressive religion. This goes far to explain the tensions often seen when economists and environmentalists come together: they are waging a new version of religious warfare (fortunately without bloodshed). The Roman Catholic theologian Robert Royal writes that “in the modern environmental debate, those who would permit use and those who advocate wilderness preservation have become virtual warring denominations.” For many environmentalists such as Brower, a symbol of human control over nature filled them with disgust and regret. In recent years, moreover, the environmental antagonism toward dams has been winning. Congress is still fully as addicted to pork barrel in other areas of government spending, but it has largely stopped funding new dams. Indeed, a recent trend is to tear some of them down—as evidenced by the planned removal (as I write) of the Elwa River Dam in Olympic National Park in Washington State, for one.

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