Whale oil provided the lighting to read the breakthrough novel of 1870, the story of Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. That was also the year of the foundation of Standard Oil. The result of that foundation is that we didn’t hunt the whales to extinction, but instead turned to kerosene to light the latter part of the 19th century, moving to electricity only in the 20th.

It really isn’t hyperbole to insist that John D. Rockefeller saved the whales by his making mineral oil products so much cheaper than the cetacean-derived equivalent. And that’s really all you need to know to understand Earth Day and what to do about it.

If you’re not a capitalist free-marketeer for Earth Day, then you’re not being serious about the environment, are you? And that would make Gaia sad and Mother Earth cry.

13 thoughts on “Elsewhere”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Actually there is one other thing you need to remember about Earth Day – the man who came up with the idea murdered and composted his girlfriend.

    However there is one small flaw in this argument. Whales roam the oceans. In international waters. They are not owned. And any cartel aimed at regulating the proper harvest of whales has a problem with cheating. As actually happened when the Soviets cheated massively by taking anything they came across.

    Elephants may be different. But only if they are properly managed. Which means owned by someone. The greatest environmentalists have been aristocrat hunters. That is why the European bison has survived. So if you could find the Duke of Devonshire and sell him all of Africa’s elephants, they might well survive. What people are likely to do is allow a free-for-all because Africa is incapable of even moderate levels of self government or a qango with someone like Alan Rusbridger or some other useless Oxbridge college Head in charge.

  2. They don’t have to be owned, SMFS. But people have to have an interest in them.

    If sub-Saharan farmers can get some money or meat from elephant hunters, they’ll tolerate the elephants.

    CITES I listing of cheetahs turned them into pests. Farmers want them killed. They are no different from hyenas to the farmers. Madison Avenue environmentalists think they saved the cheetah – they doomed it.

  3. The internal combustion engine may be the greatest environmental invention of all time. Until it gave Man great mobility, wild fires burned tens of millions of acres of the U.S. every year.

    And it enables trucks to come around to pick up recyclables.

  4. People should celebrate Earth Day by coming and digging our garden. Our earth is clay and rather wet at the moment. It would make a good challenge for young Earth Dayers.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Gamecock – “They don’t have to be owned, SMFS. But people have to have an interest in them.”

    Don’t have to tell me. Preaching to the choir. Sharing an interest with the local community might work better than an individual owning them because otherwise they may poach. But running such a scheme is, to be honest, beyond most Africans.




  6. Greens believe in an imaginary past where happy & content man, beast & nature lived in perfect harmony. It was never thus.

  7. ken,

    The opening paragraphs bug me as well. The peak of the American whaling industry is generally considered to be from 1846 to 1852. It was simple supply and demand that saved the whales, not any specific company or person. Kerosene shouldn’t even get a mention. Camphine was the dominate post-whale oil lighting fuel until federal alcohol taxes had the predictable effect.

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