Montag, August 16, 2010

The Environment, Politics and Dead-Ends...

This is worth taking the time to read.

My relationship to the environment can be found there as well: while we were not long-distance walkers, we spent our summers in the wilderness, camping in National Parks and enjoying as much nature as possible.

I remember, in my teens, paddling out on the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers to take water samples near where companies were dumping industrial waste into the rivers. My first disillusionment set in when one of the researchers said that the water wasn't dirty enough and, in violation of how we were to collect the waters, collected it from what was being poured out of the pipe directly in order to make his case. I stopped helping that group of environmentalists shortly thereafter, since they were faking their results to achieve what they wanted: publicity to stop industrial waste being dumped into the rivers.

Disillusioned, I ceased to be involved. Good thing, too.

Here's the money quote for me:

So there was a reason for environmentalism's shift to the left, just as there was a reason for its blinding obsession with carbon. Meanwhile, the fact of what humans are doing to the world had become so obvious, even to those who were doing very well out of it, that it became hard not to listen to the greens. Success duly arrived. You can't open a newspaper now or visit a corporate website or listen to a politician or read the label on a packet of biscuits without being bombarded with propaganda about the importance of "saving the planet". But there is a terrible hollowness to it all; a sense that society is going through the motions without understanding why. The shift, the pact, has come at a probably fatal price.

Now that price is being paid. The weird and unintentional pincer-movement of the failed left, with its class analysis of waterfalls and fresh air, and the managerial, carbon-über-alles brigade has infiltrated, ironed out and reworked environmentalism for its own ends. Now it is not about the ridiculous beauty of coral, the mist over the fields at dawn. It is not about ecocentrism. It is not about reforging a connection between over-civilised people and the world outside their windows. It is not about living close to the land or valuing the world for the sake of the world. It is not about attacking the self-absorbed conceits of the bubble that our civilisation has become.

Today's environmentalism is about people. It is a consolation prize for a gaggle of washed-up Trots and at the same time, with an amusing irony, it is an adjunct to hyper-capitalism; the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy. It is an engineering challenge; a problem-solving device for people to whom the sight of a wild Pennine hilltop on a clear winter day brings not feelings of transcendence but thoughts about the wasted potential for renewable energy. It is about saving civilisation from the results of its own actions; a desperate attempt to prevent Gaia from hiccupping and wiping out our coffee shops and broadband connections. It is our last hope.

If environmentalists were really serious about preserving the environment, they'd be out there buying land and just letting it be, much like the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. That's where the real environmental work is being done. Anything else is just lipstick on a pig.

Think of that the next time someone accosts you demanding your attention to whatever is selling these days within the Watermelon society.

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