Monday, April 04, 2005

Is Environmentalism Dead? Ah, NO!

Is Environmentalism Dead? Ah, No!

Although I disagree with the author's of this report, I believe that it is a good time for environmentalists to reexamine their strategies and assumptions. This online document has the environmental community abuzz with doubt: Global warming politics in a post-environmental world | By Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus | Grist Magazine | Main Dish | 13 Jan 2005 The Death of Environmentalism - Global warming politics in a post-environmental world - By Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus -13 Jan 2005.

What is very troubling about this report is several assumptions by the authors that they have 'go it' what is wrong with the environmental movement and how to fix it. I disagree that the 'doom and gloom' attitude of environmentalists is responsible for their failure, allegedly selling a poor product (the lousy health of our environment) to an American public that only wants to hear good news.

The authors believe that environmentalism should be repackaged into something entirely different from the way it has been presented to the public and how it is fought in the courts. We should for example, not mere focus on better fuel standards for new automobiles, but should consider the wider scope of why American car manufacturers are creating less fuel efficient cars and help them conform. That is, we environmentalists should also push for a better health plan for American auto workers so they can compete with Japanese automakers, who get their health plans subsides by their governments. This will put both manufactures on an even footing and make them truly competitive.

The authors also think that environmentalists should get unstuck from the second of three steps in a successful environmental plan: 1. conservation 2. regulation, and 3. investment. The environmental community, they say, should stop focusing on 'special interest' of environmentalists, i.e., global warming, and embrace an entirely new and positive vision of our environment. They use the New Apollo Project, as an example of a SEA change in environmentalists thinking and a way for them to reconnect with the American public in promoting a positive and hopeful vision of the future.

There is a whole lot more to "The Death of Environmentalism," but basically Environmentalism in the United States is failing and and the heads of our environmental groups ought to think of better schemes like using investments to make American want to move in a positive direction.--instead of the step-by-step compromises with polluters and manufacturers and a doom and gloom mentality that leaves American without hope. This sounds interesting, even hopeful. Sounds , though, very Karl Rowe-ish: something isn't working, so (regardless of its ethics and sustainability) just find what will make it work and make it work.

The trouble with this self-serving claptrap is that our environment really is getting worse: 1. The State of the World? It is on the Brink of Disaster 2. Most other nations around the world signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, the Americans dropped out because President Bush said it would "hurt American businesses." 3. There is not any logical way (that is in a world that works by the way physics as scientists understand it) that we can allow corporations to go on the way they are going--polluting our planet's air, water, and ground, and leaving it all to brownfields and superfund sites when they're done. 4. Like it or not, nothing but regulation works in a corporate world where giving their shareholders a profits is the only goal of any corporation--who only understand short-term selfish goals. -- I do think Environmentalists should rethink some of their strategies in winning the war on the environment, but giving into the Bush agenda, that is make a good product so American will want to 'buy it' is insulting, immoral, and it won't give us a stainable environment.

I'll say it again because this is the hold grail of Environmentalism: If our environment (that is, that relatively narrow band of all possible environments in which man can survive) is not sustainable, our children don't get to survive. Because environmental problems usually take so long to show up (because we are dealing with a very large system here) there is not an immediate and direct link to our pollution and us getting sick because of it. All in all, our citizens and our corporations seem hell bent on having what they want, when they want it, meaning they want.

In other words, in the United States (and I'm sure many Europeans would agree with this) we want to be able to have total freedom to have what we want regardless of its effect on our environment. We should shoot any animals that takes our stock--even if they play an important part in our environment, we should have any vehicle we want, regardless of what getting fuel for it means to our resources and global warming, we should allow any corporation to do whatever they want because they are providing jobs. I don't think so.

There is a problem with our environment, of which Global Warming may highlight some of the issues that seem to be unsolvable. Anyone who has looked at the state of our environment must see that we do not have a sustainable environment, that man has so influenced the workings of this planet's environment that we have to, like it or not, be a part of it sustaining itself. Nature cannot be left alone to do its job, because we don't know what it is. There won't be any quick fixes, and we cannot simply vote people into office who will allow us to live the way we want, regardless of its environmental implications. I believe that Environmentalists must get the public, especially the American public, on board on environmentalism because we so influence the way the rest of the world goes. Everything points to condition that in order for most American to 'get it' on the environment a major and in-our-face catastrophe, an environmental 9/11 will have to happen before we limit corporate pollution and change our economies so that they helps sustain our environment instead of degrading it.

Blaming this condition on Environmentalists because they didn't sell environmentalism in the way the American people wanted to see it (i.e., so they don't have to change their ways) is foolish and only allows the American public that this state of affairs is not their fault and they don't have to do anything about it. Well, regardless of what our attitudes are about environmentalists, if we don't change our environment becomes more hostile to our species survival. That you can take to the bank.