Every now and then this quote will show up, usually being employed by an actor, rock star, talk show host, or politician, and they will attribute it to some wise old Indian.
As best as can be detected, it isn’t an old saying at all, most likely it was first written in 1972 by a Canadian: Alanis Obomsawin.
. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, “Forest growth nationally has exceeded harvest since the 1940s… and the volume of forest growth was 380 percent greater than it had been in 1920.”
According to Worldwatch: The global population of cattle, pigs, goats, and sheep increased 23 percent between 1980 and 2010, from 3.5 billion to 4.3 billion. Naturally this increase is viewed as a “disaster,” just as a decrease would also be viewed as a “disaster.” To the anti-human movement, everything is a disaster.
The biggest gains have been made in developing countries that have adopted the ‘pursuit of money,’ as people from rural areas move to cities with modern plumbing and clean water.
The most polluted air belongs to economically backward countries like Pakistan, Egypt, Mongolia, and Afghanistan.
And now the really weird part: the vast majority of these improvements have come from individuals pursuing their own selfish interests.
The people who profit from cutting down trees have an incentive to grow more trees, the people who profit from animals have an incentive to raise animals, the people who sell water have an incentive to ensure their product is clean – not because they are swell people, but because their selfishness is only served by serving others.
Air quality is the odd-man-out in this bunch, as it is a public unowned resource.
In any case, the “old Indian” was just about completely wrong, the pursuit of money has done more to improve the average persons welfare and health than perhaps any other force. Look at the modern world and behold the the virtue of selfishness.
The old indian’s world maintained natural purity only at the cost of living in the Stone Age. No one but the most ecologically insane wants to go back there.