10 Stunning Things You Should Know About the Environmental Movement -- 'A Fierce Green Fire' Film Inspires
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"Sure," said Kitchell, when asked if Earth National Park's time has finally come. "I work in a national park, the Presidio. I think the concept has grown enough that we might be able to make the whole world a national park. But Brower was obviously using the idea rhetorically or ontologically, trying to shift consciousness. When I look at where the movement is heading today, I see a few trends: restoration, adaptation and amelioration of climate impacts."
3. Martin Litton, Badass
He may be 87, but the pioneering environmentalist, who teamed up with Brower to fight dam-building, is no fragile flower -- and he doesn't want the environmental movement to be either. Environmentalists should "be unreasonable," he argues in A Fierce Green Fire. They should have "hatred in [their] heart[s]" for polluters and ravagers, and they should tell a society that befouls the environment to "drop dead."
4. Spaceship Earth, Cleared For Takeoff
Despite Brower's aforementioned hatred of technology, one of the environmental movement's most notable evolutionary moments came in the '60s and '70s, when it embraced science and tools to effect local and global change. From Stewart Brand's countercultural DIY manual Whole Earth Catalog to the organic pioneer New Alchemy Instituteand beyond, hacking Earth became a hippie ideal that has evolved well into our still-new millennium.
"I like Bucky Fuller’s idea that we have to guide Spaceship Earth," Kitchell told me, "as well the idea that we are Gaia, the animating force that will keep this planet habitable. Remember Stewart Brand’s motto in the Whole Earth Catalog? 'We are as gods, and might as well get good at it.' Well, in a piece of the A Fierce Green Fire that was edited out late, Stewart talked about how it has changed to, 'We are as gods -- and have to get good at it.'"
5. Richard Nixon, Environmental Activist? Mindfuck!
Believe it or not, it is the disgraced Nixon's administration that proposed and formed the Environmental Protection Agency, and supported a variety of world-changing green laws. But the history books don't tell the whole story, said Kitchell, whose documentary nevertheless gives Tricky Dick the time of day. "Nixon was trying to outflank Edmund Muskie, a real environmentalist. More important was the bipartisan group of senators who sponsored and passed the golden era of environmental legislation. They overrode Nixon’s veto more than once. The Dirty Dozen campaign, launched by the Earth Day folks, unseated some powerful congressmen in 1972, and after that everyone was an environmentalist."
6. Love Canal, Mutant Factory
One astounding act of A Fierce Green Fire is dedicated to this infamous New York neighborhood built atop an Occidental Petroleum toxic-waste dump. The entire segment beggars belief, from its alarming genetic and physical deformities to its naked corporate corruption. But its most stunning achievement is its grassroots uprising, led by the legendary Lois Gibbs, who galvanized neighbors and the nation alike. But most egregious is the government's claim that Gibbs' personal investigations, later correlated by pretty much everyone, was comprised of what she recalled as "useless housewife data." And that EPA relocation advisory blocked by Carter? Mindfuck, the Sequel.
7. "Apartheid American Style!"
Lost in the toxic soup of environmental and corporate pollution are the disproportionate numbers of people of color condemned to sickness and death. That is, until the conscientious pioneer Robert Bullard arrived in the '80s to ignite the environmental justice movement as we know it. But the author of Dumping in Dixie and Toxic Waste and Race understands that true environmentalism is both colorful and colorblind. “There’s no Hispanic air," he argues in A Fierce Green Fire. "There’s no African-American air. There’s air! If you breathe air -- and most people I know do breathe air -- then I would consider you an environmentalist.”