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The Salt Lake Tribune

April 2, 2000, Sunday

In Defense of the Earth ; Charting the changes in America's environmental movement

Joan O'brien

Soft on Recycling

Peter Huber offers a less kindly assessment of the modern environmental movement in his book Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists—A Conservative Manifesto. Huber, a libertarian engineer and attorney, calls for a return of the conservationism embraced by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt.

Old-school conservationists are what Huber calls "hard greens." They believe in saving Yellowstone and other wilderness, but not their newspapers for recycling. As Huber defines them, the hard greens see no scarcity of food, fuels, minerals, or space to bury trash. When some resource is exhausted, people will find a replacement.

Huber concedes that pollution—ranging from sewage to industrial effluent to car emissions—is a serious problem, but he argues that free-market capitalism is the solution, not the source.

Pitted against Huber's hard greens are what he calls the "soft greens" who populate the modern environmental movement. He likens them to Marxists with their limits-to-growth ideology and pleas for more efficient use of resources. "Thus we enter the new era of Soft 'conservation,' in which the lakes, trees, mountains, and prairies are to be saved not directly, but rather through the conservation of gasoline, newspaper pulp, aluminum, and glass and the relentless sifting and sorting of trash."

In addition to recycling, Huber takes on other tenets of modern environmentalism, including organic agriculture and solar power. Hard Green is published by Basic Books and available in hardcover for $25.

© 2000 The Salt Lake Tribune

Visit the Hard Green website



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