J500 Media and the Environment


Environmental Dread by denzylj
February 5, 2008, 12:21 am
Filed under: Society + Media

The last thing an environmental bloc needs is deep division. Robust debate yes, differing opinions of course, but a common vision – absolutely crucial. I’ve only been in the United States for a year and not entirely au fait with the state of the environmentalism, dead or otherwise. Reading the essay by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus here, I’ve been left with the impression that it’s six feet under, with a granite headstone, withering daisies and an epitaph that reads:

For being ineffective in combating government and corporate leaders as they polluted the air and oceans and allowed the destruction of fragile ecosystems, here lies the environmental movement. They spoke out, but were weak and divided and in the end, legislation was passed that allowed global warming to take place – the result, climate change that has caused rising sea levels, diseases, storms and a myriad of devastating consequences that threatens the very existence of man. There is no turning back. Humanity as we know it, is doomed.

And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”

Revelation 11:18

Is it a morbid state of affairs?

It’s that gloomy. But reading the comments from other green leaders, Shellenberger and Nordhaus and even Adam Werbach’s grim portrayal, of the environment, appear to be engaging in counter-productive arguments regarding the state of affairs of the movement. The sentiments of Carl Pope and Phil Clapp, among others, paints a different picture – one that doesn’t leave readers completely disillusioned about how complacent activists have become in pushing for change. Of course, they don’t totally dismiss the views of Shellenberger and Nordaus, but this whole debate whilst necessary for sober reflection on the course of the movement over the years, does leave me (and I say this with all the naivety of an uninformed observer) with the impression of a movement that’s fractured by policy approaches and a lack of political influence – the consequences of which have weakened a collective resolve to reverse laws which harm the environment and enforce others which will ensure its protection. During my time here, I’ve seen active engagement on a number of issues – the most recent being a panel of politicians debating in a packed conference room on what actions could, should and are being taken to address global warming. There are other instances I could list, but safe to say that the initiatives taken should perhaps progress from small steps to giant leaps, given the pace at which we’re destroying the planet.

-Denzyl

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3 Comments so far
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Denzyl, You say the debate leaves you “with the impression of a movement that’s fractured by policy approaches and a lack of political influence – the consequences of which have weakened a collective resolve to reverse laws which harm the environment and enforce others which will ensure its protection.” I could not agree with you more. I know this is changing, but change happens slowly. When I first read this article, I was concerned that this kind of internal criticism would really divide people who desperately needed to work together to address environmental issues. It was divisive – and did cause some damage because the words could easily be twisted to support an anti-green agenda. Reflecting back, I think it also forced greenies to reflect on what they had been doing – and what needed to change.

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

My sentiments exactly. I think what is resented is airing your dirty laundry in public. I’m sure there’s acknowledgment that yes there are problems, but don’t let Joe Soap know – that’s for all us greenies to consider, debate, criticize, argue and resolve in-house, rather than in a public forum. At least, that’s my impression. Just like a sports team doesn’t want to alert the opposition to its weaknesses.

Presumably these underlying criticisms have been ongoing for the past few years and I’m not sure whether there are any moves afoot to bring all these dissenting voices together for sober reflection and healthy debate in order to move forward with possible solutions. I’m also reminded of some of the scientific groups that we have on campus, (the CEBC comes to mind), have problems presenting their research to the media, lawmakers and the general public in a manner that makes for complex information to be conveyed in an interesting, fun and understandable way. Well, they too don’t appear to be addressing an obvious problem and I imagine the consequences of all this is that for journalists, we’re already forming some negative impressions – of divided greenies and research bodies with tons of information they just don’t know how to present. Not your ideal yes, and perhaps its long overdue for some internal introspection to be done.

-Denzyl

Comment by denzylj

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