This article originally appeared on the blog of Heretic, the magazine of We Are Libertarians.
An undeniable silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is the stunning decrease in all sorts of pollution. Urban skylines are clear, bright, and blue. Marine life is re-entering waters they were forced to abandon long ago. Carbon dioxide levels are plummeting. Noise pollution is lower than it has been in decades.
These are happy occurrences and should be viewed as such by all of us. Some though, take things too far, making the claim that we (humanity) are the real virus that is afflicting the planet. While there is a root of truth to this claim – humanity has been severely negligent to the planet and has often not hesitated to harm the environment for our own selfish gain – comparing humanity to a virus is a form of gaslighting, a way to distract from the real problem and causes of environmental degradation.
Like it or not, the claim that we are the virus treads dangerously close to ecofascism (a philosophy well-exemplified in the Marvel villain Thanos, who desires to wipe out half of all life in order to lessen life’s impact on the environment). More so, the claim that we are the virus – we average, ordinary people – totally shifts the blame for ecological disaster onto us, while the reality of the situation is that 100 multi-billion dollar companies and and a handful of governments are responsible for nearly all pollution on earth.
Why shift the blame for the vast bulk of pollution from them to us?
That’s not environmentalism, it’s capitalist and state propaganda yet again passing the buck. It’s the elites trying to pass their guilt onto us, to blame us for their decadence. They have gaslit a great many otherwise sound environmentalists into believing that average and impoverished people literally dying would be good for the world. And within that gaslighting lays the fact that they would prefer millions of us to die so that they can continue their exploitative and destructive practices.
Are we the virus? No.
Is exploitation and lack environmental regard the virus? Yes.