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Scruton on Being Green

Fascinating lecture by well-known conservative philosopher Roger Scruton at Policy Exchange yesterday lunchtime.

His new book, “Green Philosophy”, argues that for too long the cause of environmentalism has been hijacked by the leftist, “top-down planning” agenda. For him there is no necessary link between environmentalism and left-wing thinking. Indeed, he argued that top-down planning has been responsible for many of the worst environmental catastrophes, for example in China today. In his view, we need to focus more on a bottom-up approach. We need to make sure that we internalise the environmental costs of our economic activities, as well as the financial gains. We need to achieve this by nurturing our sense of ‘oikophilia’ – love for one’s home. This will drive our motivation for generating local solutions to local problems. Greater focus on the local, rather than on large global problems will also do more good because the trouble with overwhelmingly large problems is that it takes forever to mobilise collective global action. Also, if problems seem too large and insoluble, people feel unable to tackle them and so they do not bother to try. In contrast, dealing with smaller, bite-sized problems will unleash entrepreneurial and creative energies.

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