Julian L. Simon Memorial Lecture 2000
New Cutural Imperialism: The greens and economic development"
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by Prof. Deepak Lal.
International Centre, New Delhi
Lal sees the ecological movement as a new form of imperialism.
The Green Peril
the green movement claims to have the future of the planet
in mind, economist Deepak Lal warned of the new imperialist
threat posed by the ecological movement, particularly for
the developing countries. Prof.. Lal, who is the James Coleman
Professor of International Development Studies at the University
of California, at Los Angeles, USA, was delivering the inaugural
Julian L. Simon Memorial Lecture organised by Liberty Institute,
in New Delhi, on Saturday.
lecture attracted a wide audience, and was chaired by Dr.
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Member, Planning Commission. Dr.
Ahluwalia introduced Prof. Lal as some one who never minces
words. Prof. Lal lived up to that reputation.
Lal noted the parallels between utopian ideas of Marxism,
Christianity and the present day environmental movements.
He said, "The ecological movement is the latest manifestation
of the various secular religions in the West once the Christian
God died for so many with the Scientific and Darwinian revolution…
… The spiritual and moral void created by the Death of God
is, thus, increasingly being filled in the secular Western
world by the worship of Nature." What was ironic is that
"those haunted natural spirits which the medieval Church
sought to exorcise so that the West could conquer its forests
(see Southern), are now be-ing glorified and being placed
Lal warned that the Green movement is a modern secular religious
movement engaged in a world-wide crusade to impose its "habits
of the heart" on the world. He pointed out that their primary
target was to prevent the economic development which alone
offers the world's poor any chance of escaping their age-old
poverty. This modern day secular Christian crusade has exchanged
the saving of souls for saving Spaceship Earth. It needs
to be fiercely resisted.
failed to promote their agenda through the normal political
process even in developed countries, the greens are now
seeking to push their agenda through various unelected and
bureaucratic international agencies such as the UNEP. Their
chief prize is the capture of the WTO to impose their anti-development,
anti-trade platform on the rest of the world.
instance, Prof. Lal wondered how could the developed world
that consumes twenty times more energy per capita than India,
expect India to slow down or even retard their energy needs
in order to implement the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
He harshly criticised western environmental groups such
as Greenpeace for advocating a ban on DDT in developing
countries, where malarial mosquitoes continue to affect
an estimated 500 million annually, when the western world
itself had used it much more widely to fight the disease
some decades earlier. Likewise Prof. Lal ridiculed the fear
mongering over biotechnology, and argued that India should
take a leaf out of the Chinese position which has made that
country adopt the newer agricultural technology in a very
Lal called on India and other developing countries to stand
up to this insidious threat coming from the global greens.
He called for India to consider withdrawing from a range
of international environmental agreements and conventions,
including the Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste, the Persistent
Organic Pollutants Convention, the Kyoto Protocol on Climate
Change, the Biosafety Convention. He felt that many of the
implications of these agreements are not clearly understood,
and would impose a very heavy burden, particularly on the
India, which had been a leader against the colonial era,
must once again take the lead and stand up against the latest
attempt to resurrect a new form of western colonialism -
ecological imperialism, concluded Prof. Lal. And in this
fight, there would be allies in the west like the late Julian
Lal's lecture, "The New Cultural Imperialism: The greens
and economic development", has been published by the Liberty
Institute, and was released on this occasion.
Lal began by recounting his association with Prof. Julian
Simon in the 1980s. Prof. Julian Simon, in whose memory
this lecture series was inaugurated, was an economist and
demographer at the University of Maryland in the US, and
was singularly responsible for exposing the fallacy behind
the Malthusian fear that growing human population would
degrade the environment and the quality of life. Simon held,
" The standard of living has risen along with the size of
the world's population since the beginning of recorded time.
There is no convincing economic reason why these trends
toward a better life should not continue indefinitely… …
… Minds matter economically, as much or more than, hands
Simon was instrumental in helping to establish the Liberty
Institute as an independent, economic policy research and
educational organisation, in 1995. Prof. Lal has been on
the board of advisors of the Institute since its inception.
Since his untimely death in 1998, the Institute has rededicated
its research centre in the name of Julian L. Simon to keep
alive in the Institute his never-ending spirit of inquiry.
Instituted hosted a lunch following the lecture and discussion.
The participants had an opportunity to interact with each
other informally. Deepak Lal signed copies of his lecture
for some members of the audience.
information about Prof. Deepak Lal's lecture, and Prof.
Julian Simon, are available on the web site of Liberty Institute,