Posts Tagged ‘4th Generation War’
Hard on the heels of the President (through the OMB) canceling EPA’s rulemaking on a more stringent ambient air quality standard for ozone, comes Walter Russell Mead fatuously intoning the death of environmentalism. The point he brings forward is a pretty punchless and poorly founded way of saying, “hah, loooosers”. I expected better from someone with Mr. Mead’s gravitas, and other people have foretold the “death of environmentalism” with far more eloquence than his. None of this concerns me terribly because it’s just conservatives vaporing, and people will be back as soon as the real environmental crises kick in, as if Hurricane Katrina or Texas burning up with drought this year aren’t real environmental crises.
Environmental progress seems to be more difficult compared with the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s. The early successes resulted from going after low-hanging fruit (DDT, burning rivers, smog) which didn’t require a lot of individual sacrifice or change. It’s understandable that Western governments are reluctant to confront their citizens with the news that confronting climate change or resource depletion could involve curtailing everyone’s standard of living. The future of environmentalism involves a social revolution over values, and I’m not sure the professional environmentalist class is cut out for that. In the US, the professional environmentalists are still looking for legal/bureaucratic solutions from a system that’s either corrupt (Congress), or has undergone regulatory capture (the agencies), is too conservative for them (the courts) or has thrown them under the bus (the current Administration). Without governmental allies, against the money and media influence exerted by the regulated industries environmentalists are bringing a knife into a gun fight.
There appears to be some growing awareness of this problem. Some would argue that environmentalism needs to get more religious (see Lynn White for the definitive statement on faith and the environment). Someone is advocating a crowdsourcing approach blending today’s social networking tools with the values of the Summer of Love, though I’m with Terry Mann, the writer character played by James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams”.
What’s an environmentalist to do if money, mainstream media and government aren’t in your corner, and you have difficult truths to convey? Satire and ridicule is a start, perhaps. Recognize that you’re fighting a culture war and start reading about 4GW. Stop being reactive and start preparing to play the long game. Time is on the side of environmentalism.