OK, so there’s been a bunch of hooha over this whole “The Death of Environmentalism” paper, so I went out and read the thing…well, most of it anyway. And, I must say; ugh, what a load of bunk that thing is. And dry. As in three thousand year old parchment baking in the sun of the Gobi desert dry. I need to drink a gallon of water just thinking about it. Glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug…ahhh!!
So, as you might have guessed, I have a lot of problems with that piece. For starters, you can definitely tell it was penned by an environmentalist. It starts in the third paragraph with the “conventional wisdom…is that we mustn’t frighten the public…” What?!? Huh??!? Are we talking about the same environmentalists here? The phrase “Population Bomb” ring a bell here? Or “DDT is going to destroy the world”? Or, “we are going to kill the ‘keystone’ species and every living thing will go extinct”? Or “acid rain will burn everyone to death and melt everyone’s houses”? Or “global warming will destroy the ozone layer and kill everyone”? That’s ALL environmentalists DO is try to scare the hell out of people with half-baked prophecies of global doom.
And then there are the unfounded claims of “significant advances over a relatively short period of time”. Says who? You guys have been anemic and weak. And “we are winning on the issues but losing politically”. Typical environmentalist rhetoric. Making unfounded claims and then just going about your business as if your claims are true simply because you uttered them. Um, this may come as a shock to some of the environmentalists out there, but we live in a republic and if you were winning on the issues, then you would be winning politically. That is the entire concept of how representative government works. You convince a majority of the population or their political representatives that your perspective on an issue is correct and they enact legislation to implement your vision. Thus, it is oxymoronic to blather on about “winning on the issues” and “losing politically”. If you are losing politically, then you are not winning on the issues. And besides that fact, you offer no proof other than your own statement that you ARE, in fact, winning on the issues. Like I said, obviously written by an environmentalist.
The rest of it is pretty much just pointless blathering. But the most heinous aspect of the piece, and the one that cements the fact that a deeply disturbed, old school environmentalist wrote it is how it ends…with a whimper. The entire piece sets up this “crises”, this impending doom, this “death” within the environmentalist movement and then simply ends with no vision, no plan, no answer, just a helpless metaphor about a “shore” and a “path”.
But, there is good news for all you environmentalists out there. This piece epitomizes EXACTLY what is WRONG with the environmentalist movement. Namely, that you guys CONSTANTLY set up these “global crises” with little or no foundation in fact and then offer no solutions, just anger and ranting. Concept, the “population bomb” DIDN’T happen. Life STILL exists on the Earth despite your gloom and doom. Acid rain HASN’T killed and melted everything. There is even scientific evidence out there indicating that global warming might be the only thing that has saved us from a global ice age.
Yes, what you stand for is fine, but stop and think about what you are doing. Then again…don’t. You’ve already tried that and failed miserably, over and over and over again. So, I’m going to help you out and spell it out for you. Let’s pick your current hot button, gloom and doom global environmental crises…global warming. And, for the sake of argument, I will concede; for this time only, that you are correct about global warming and its potential negative effects and that we humans are causing it all. Mind you, I don’t actually agree with much, if any, of this but just for the sake of argument I will blindly believe that we humans actually have THAT much control over the entire universe.
So think of things this way. Nobody set out with a global vision to destroy the world through global warming. Global warming was caused by hundreds and thousands of LOCALIZED environmental impacts. Thus, to combat global warming, you don’t preach global gloom and doom or vault to the top and pass worldwide Kyoto treaties and the like. To win, you focus on the LOCAL level and win the hearts and minds of the people in individual communities. You solve small-scale environmental problems such as a problematic factory, or an irresponsible quarry whose strip mining causes erosion to clog up a river, or that one guy’s muffler-less and catalytic converter-less car spewing forth toxins into the air. Solving hundreds of thousands of small-scale environmental issues will do local communities a world of good and will add up to changing the world.
Thinking and acting locally results in global action. But then you guys couldn’t get your millions and billions of dollars for that could you? Of course not, only crying “the sky is falling” will get you the cash you crave. And that is why I have significant disdain for environmentalists, because you don’t ACTUALLY care about the environment, only your own pocket books and egos.
Originally published March 2005