It's Not Easy Being Green: Are Some of the Biggest Enviro Groups Giant Sell-Outs?
Continued from previous page
“Those of us who are calling ourselves the latter-day abolitionists, our idea of what’s possible is grounded in physical and natural laws. How much water and land and resources do we need to feed ourselves?” Steingraber says. “My hope that is that we can help people imagine, have a vision of a future when blasting gas out of the ground to make our tea kettles whistle is just barbaric, which it is.” It’s a view Nordhaus and Shellenberger call naïve.
It’s clear that, much of the time, environmentalists are arguing past each other. Beyond any debates over strategy or technology, the various factions of greens harbor completely different ideas about human nature and the planet’s capacity to hold us. While some eco-policy wonks appear to have internalized the notion that there are no alternatives to our modern, energy-dependent ways, the environmental grassroots remain committed to encouraging a change in consciousness that will prompt a new, less resource-intense mode of living. It’s as if the environmental movement is playing three-dimensional chess, but with the players operating on totally different planes.
Such differences of opinion aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Political movements often benefit from some degree of ideological tension. The differences only become a political liability because our environmental situation urgently needs a solution. Carbon emissions continue to rise, the number of humans continues to grow, and Earth isn’t getting any bigger.
The environmental movement has a surplus of good ideas for how to manage ecological problems. It’s got plenty of smart and passionate people. The one key asset it doesn’t have is time to sort its issues out.