J500 Media and the Environment

when death pays a visit, all you can do is wait. by dmdeshazer

It seems the world is at a stand-still. Yes, the Earth may still be runnin’ circles around the sun, but nothing seems to be happening or changing. For me, being thrust into this environmental war, it seems like, happened a little unwillingly, and quite unexpectedly. But, isn’t that how we all end up in messes we feel we can’t erase? It’s never intentional, or at least we’d like to think it’s not.

As the time for the Democratic caucus is racing toward me tonight, I’m still unsure where I stand politically. I’ve always been indecisive — maybe that’s the Libra in me. But, I’m always lingering on certain subjects and weighing each option over the other as if the end of the world is in my hands.

So, what do politics have to do with the environment, anyway? A whole heckuva lot. After attending the Focus the Nation panel last Thursday, and now reading the Death of Environmentalism essay by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, the correlations between politics and the “environmental dilemma” is ever more apparent to me. At Focus the Nation, a panel of 13 individuals at all levels of government discussed the issue of climate change, hoping to offer regional impacts and possible solutions. As the discussion opened, one of the introducers said this discussion was meant as a starting point, only to set the grounds for further development in our area, Kansas, and the United States. It only left me with more and more unanswered questions. The panel of politicians and officials stated what they were doing as individuals to help the global warming phenomenon, talking of being hybrid-, CFL-, and reusable grocery bag-owners. But, what does that have to do with we, the people, or what we can actually do to effect change? It’s tough because these people– leaders of rank and office– aren’t guaranteed a life-long job as governor of this or senator of that. How can we make goals that will be achieved in ten, twenty, thirty years, when our leaders are only in office for a few?

Shellenberger and Nordhaus hit the nail on the head. There isn’t much environmentalists and politicians have been doing. Simply put, the movement didn’t just fail. It’s dead. Here’s where our government leaders come on. They said , “Everyone is looking for short-term policy pay-off. We could find nobody who is crafting political proposals that, through the alternative vision and values they introduce, create the context for electoral and legislative victories down the road. Almost every environmental leader we interviewed is focused. Almost every environmental leader we interviewed is focused on short-term policy work, not long-term strategies.”

Isn’t global warming something that has happened as time goes by? Aren’t things just going to get worse? All we have is time, and we’re doing nothing about it. Just like the panel, we’re all taking individual steps toward our own goals, but when do those steps lead to a revolution? If environmentalism isn’t dead, then our understanding is. And our passion. And, quite possibly, our unity as a nation. Nothing big will happen until we can work on this together– until every person can understand the issue and create a solution. I think this will only happen if we elect a leader who is dedicated to this movement and dedicated to saving our future.

So, as the caucuses and primaries approach even faster, I’d like us all to keep this issue in mind: the environment and politics. Or else, I’m not sure if we can enliven this issue off the hospital bed.

–Danae DeShazer


3 Comments so far
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This issue also brings into light our abilities as individuals to connect together and make a unified statement. While it appears the policymakers are under the sway of heavy political lobbies and old modes of thinking, that doesn’t limit us to what we can do. For example, tomorrow morning, meet at Borders at 7:30 AM and ride along to Topeka to protest the recent legislative action to appeal Roderick Bremby and KDHE’s decision against the Holcomb coal-fire plants. There will be hearings and a super-unified rally on the capital steps, so that even though our legislators have the lobby on their shoulders, they’ll also have us in their front yard.

Jennifer Kongs

Comment by jkongs

At some points, I feel like these things pop up, but are not necessarily convenient in a normal life as a college student. For example, (not counting the snow), I had work at my internship at 8 a.m. and could not have gone if I wanted. It’s those things that make me wonder– how do other people have TIME for this “environmental” stuff? How can people with busy, involved lives participate in environmentalism?

-Danae DeShazer

Comment by Danae DeShazer

You ask, “How do people have time for this “environmental” stuff? The same way people have time for American Idol, Danae. They make it. The reason I asked the question (at FTN) of what each politician was doing in their own personal lives to mitigate climate change was because they all sat up on the dias telling us solving environmental problems would be hard and would require sacrifice. And I agree with them – and was amused and even moved by some of their answers – but also think there is tremendous opportunity to go further. The best things in life, the most important successes we have, are the ones that we worked for. The fact that we have a bi-racial man and a Caucasian woman running for our highest office is testament to two shining examples of hard-earned struggles and important victories.
Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

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