The relationship between scientific research and policy towards the global environment was not just a technical matter. It went to the heart of what differentiated my approach from that of the socialists. For me, the economic progress, scientific advance and public debate which occur in free societies themselves offered the means to overcome threats to individual and collective wellbeing. For the socialist, each new discovery revealed a ‘problem’ for which the repression of human activity by the state was the only ‘solution’ … The scarred landscape, dying forests, poisoned rivers and sick children of the former communist states bear tragic testimony to which system worked better, both for people and the environment.

—Margaret Thatcher. The Downing Street Years, 1993.

The more children who are born and grow up to become healthy, happy teenagers, spouses, parents and grandparents, the greater the sum of human happiness. This is the test for determining what is, and what is not, acceptable from an environmental point of view. Accordingly:

  • We should not live for the moment, like communists and Keynesians, destroying the environment as we go along. Our children, and our children’s children to infinity, must be kept safe from dioxins, mercury, lead, radioactive substances and all other toxins released into the environment. Thus, the pollution laws must be constantly tightened until technology reaches the point where nothing escapes.
  • We should not apologize for our existence, and put frogs before people. Human progress must not be barred by irrationality—as it was in the Dark Ages. When it comes to swamps, deserts, scrubland, moor, fens, arid hills, and other inhospitable environments, we have a duty to convert these into leafy green suburbs where children play on their bikes and young couples can multiply.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove