"The trouble with the eco-crusader is that his false guilt and his false fears feed endlessly upon each other."
With Earth Day coming up on Wednesday, I remembered this line from an old presidential speech.
"From the emotional remorse that we have sinned terribly against nature," it continues, "there is but a short step to the emotional dread that nature will visit terrible retribution upon us. The eco-crusader becomes, as a result, deaf to reason and science, blind to perspective and priorities, incapable of effective action."
That's telling 'em, Mr. President. Or it would have been, if Richard Nixon hadn't let staffers talk him out of giving the speech in 1971.
Fired up by attacks on the "disaster lobby" by Look magazine publisher Thomas Shepard, and uneasy about his own role in establishing the Environmental Protection Agency after the first Earth Day in 1970, Nixon directed me and other speechwriters to produce a warning against ecological extremism.
Our draft died on his desk amid concerns about political backlash. I kept the file as a historical curiosity — the presidential bombshell that wasn't. Today, four decades into the age of true-believing green religion, Nixon's undelivered speech reads prophetically.