J500 Media and the Environment

If modern environmentalism isn’t dead, it should be. by Lauren Keith

Environmentalism today is changing to CFLs, signing a petition here or there and generally being dissatisfied with the government’s lethargic pace on environmental protection.

Environmentalists say they want to move beyond the status quo — our biggest enemy, the one that gave us inefficient homes, gas guzzling automobiles and clothing made in countries we can’t even locate on a map — but we still abide by it. We still get our power from coal. We still drive. We still buy clothes made in the Philippines.

In the presidential debates, global warming has hardly been discussed, and the one time I’ve seen, it was presented as a joke. Does this video really inspire people to think differently about the climate crisis?

The Democrats finally have the entire issue down to a few soundbites. Decrease emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Cap and trade. Moral imperative. Alternative energy.

But what are they going to do in their term?

By 2050, they will be long gone from any political office, and global warming solutions will probably still be in the discussion stages.

I never thought I would agree with anything Ron Paul said, and it disturbs me that I’m about to say this, but he’s right when he says that the EPA can be abolished. How can we have an agency that changes leaders with each new administration every four to eight years? How is that agency ever going to be effective? Especially when that leader is not a scientist, has no scientific training and is possibly a former exec from a big oil company?

This EPA has done nothing and has only prevented somewhat progressive state environmental action, such as the debate going on with California.

Problems with reaching the federal level were clearly illustrated at Focus the Nation. Dennis Moore gave the typical politician’s soundbite (we’re discussing, we’re debating…), and Nancy Boyda expanded beyond that, but not by much. They seemed much more distant and not as interested as officials at the state and local levels were (although that could have just been technology problems). Still, they too are stuck in the status quo, and no matter how many times we don’t flush the toilet and put Lysol in it instead (weird), that’s not going to cure global warming.

Obviously, I don’t have a solution, and am guilty myself, but I don’t think the environmental movement is moving anything right now. As Nordhaus and Shellenberger suggest, maybe we should fund green technologies ($300 billion worth!) to start the switch to a green economy.

A professor once gave an analogy to the status quo when she was driving on a highway way out in western Kansas. She was distracted and missed her exit and had to drive 60 miles out of her way because there were no other exits for at least 30 miles where she could turn around.

How long are we going to stay on Interstate Business As Usual? Does the planet have the time for us to waste time so that we make sure we follow procedure instead of simply doing what needs to be done?

And please tell me we aren’t driving a Hummer.

—Lauren Keith

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6 Comments so far
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That happened to me on Monday. Worst start of the week ever. I drove an extra 60 miles just because I missed an exit. Adding more exits on the toll is one way that Kansas can help the environment.

Now for a more valid comment. My lord, how that irked me. I left that “discussion” with less of a boost in hope than I was hoping for. Why couldn’t we focus more on what is being done on a state level? Or at least we could talk about repercussions. At least that way, I’d know that these leaders realize that something needs to be done.

And I want a politician who’s making environmental changes now. Serious ones. We’ve learned that when a longterm commitment is made, nothing gets done until it is too late. Alight, maybe that’s a huge genralization. But that’s how I work when I find out an assignment is due at a much later date – and that’s just an assignment. I assume it’s a little more intense when you have to change the actions of an entire nation.

Travis Brown

Comment by travisjbrown

Although the question was asked in an inappropriately humorous manner (let’s face it, it wasn’t even funny), I think Kucinich’s response in the video you mention is appropriate. The current administration has focused so much on one approach to national security, that it has lost out on opportunities to address it in ways that would cost us fewer lives. We have spent more money on the war in Iraq than it would have costs us to comply with the the Kyoto Protocol. Yet our inability – or unwillingness – to address climate change could make things worse for national security. If you’ve got time, there is a good NPR piece on this topic.

Jeff S

Comment by jseverin

Looks like there was an error in my link on my last post. Here’s the article comparing the cost of the war to the cost of the Kyoto compliance.

Jeff S

Comment by jseverin

Man am I on a roll! Here’s the actual link.

Jeff S

Comment by jseverin

I was complaining to my friend Jerry that things weren’t moving fast enough, that I was disappointed that I was still having multiple conversations about switching to CFLs, that few seemed to grasp the urgency that was needed to grapple with environmental issues. And then he reminded me to be patient. Civil rights, women’s suffrage, all of these things have taken time. I agree with you, Lauren, and I am also tired of platitudes. But can we actually get discouraged with others when we aren’t doing it all? What is keeping us from going completely green?

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

You are hitting it on the nail; I like your straightforwardness, and the universatality of the same

Comment by bhujangadev tumuluri

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