Eco-terrorism refers to the use of violence and vandalism to target industries that are thought to degrade the natural environment.
The anarchic eco-terrorist group known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), for instance, advocates "economic sabotage and property destruction" against enterprises whose activities result in "the destruction of the environment." ELF has declared war against "greedy capitalists" and "rich scum," particularly among the timber, construction, and automotive industries.
Similarly, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) states that it "carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property." The chief targets of ALF are scientists and technicians involved in laboratory testing of animals, usually on government contracts and most commonly in experiments for new medicines and medical treatments. Other "exploiters" who "profit from the misery and exploitation of animals" include hunters, fishers, butchers, factory farmers, and restaurateurs, as well as those who use animals to entertain the public (in zoos, circuses, and rodeos). The fur, meat, egg, and dairy industries are also viewed as major offenders.
The destructive actions launched by ELF, ALF and other like-minded groups have become matters of such concern that one of the FBI's "highest domestic terrorism priorities," according to the Bureau's director Robert S. Mueller III, is to prosecute people who commit crimes "in the name of animal rights or the environment."
Mueller’s statement underlines the fact that these radicals are usually dismissed merely as eccentric individuals who engage in random acts that often seem like pranks, and that their “ideology” actually perverts the meaning of true environmentalism. But they are more mainstream than they may appear; rather than being a deranged offshoot of environmentalism, they actually represent some of its core values, particularly in its attack on human technology, human progress, and even human life.
As Ayn Rand Institute senior fellow Onkar Ghate writes:
“The individuals singled out for attack by environmental terrorists -- namely, scientists, inventors, and businessmen -- are the creators of industrial civilization. As heirs of Newton, scientists discover truths about the workings of nature. As heirs of Edison, inventors use these truths to create new products which improve human life. As heirs of Ford, businessmen figure out ways to perfect and mass manufacture these products profitably.
“These three categories of individuals represent the exploiters of nature, those who transform wilderness to support man's life. They find plains and forests, dangerous jungles and insect-infested swamps, in which man's life is precarious, and they build a human environment by creating houses, electric heaters, and chemical pesticides. They teach man his method of survival: using his mind to reshape nature to his needs.”
Committed environmentalists are deeply misanthropic. As the founder of Greenpeace reflects: "I got the impression that instead of going out to shoot birds, I should go out and shoot kids who shoot birds." A biologist with the U.S. National Park Services states: "Until such time as homo sapiens should decide to return to nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along." The head of the 1992 Earth Summit wonders: "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?"
Environmental terrorism is not, therefore, a war against buildings or in behalf of animals or pristine ecosystems. It is more profoundly a war against human beings, particularly the creative ones seeking to expand human frontiers and make our earthly life safer and more productive by means of science and technology.