All of this would be of academic interest only, were it not the case that the modern environmental movement and many of our public policies are based implicitly on the myth of the Noble Savage. The fountainhead of modern environmentalism is Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. The first sentence in Silent Spring invoked the Noble Savage by claiming "there was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." But the town Carson described did not exist, and her polemic, Silent Spring, introduced us to environmental alarmism based on junk science. As the years passed, Rachel Carson was elevated to sainthood and the template laid for endless spasms of hysterical fear-mongering, from the population bomb, to nuclear winter, the Alar scare, and global warming.
Human beings have not, can not, and never will live in harmony with nature. Our prosperity and health depend on technology driven by energy. We exercise our intelligence to command nature, and were admonished by Francis Bacon to exercise our dominion with "sound reason and true religion." When we are told that our primary energy source, oil, is "making us sick," or that we are "addicted" to oil, these are only the latest examples of otherwise rational persons descending into gibberish after swooning to the lure of the Noble Savage. This ignorant exultation of the primitive can only lead us back to the Stone Age.