Any post that ends in “Hail Ants” deserves some kind of epilogue. Fortunately I have found one. It may be a lengthy one at 50 pages, but this article I found at Changethis.com Outlines exactly what I was talking about in the last post, and it even reveals a couple of things I never would have thought of. It’s pinpoints exactly why many of the great plans of environmentalists are doomed to fail. It’s titled, aptly enough, “The Death of Environmentalism”.
Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus explain that the issue not that environmentalists think that their proposals have intrinsic value. The failure of many environmental movements is that they only frame their policies in terms of the environment. The rationale behind this is that environmentalists define themselves by their focus on the environment, and they believe that if they lose that focus, they will lose their effectiveness. The flaw in this reasoning is that it transubstantiates corporations and governments from organizations made of people into monolithic superbeasts, which they often do at protest time.
This cripples the environmental movement in terms of gaining any of the political capital it needs to realize its goals. Instead of trying to find common goals with industry and governments, environmentalists frame their policies as if they are going to be shot down by default. I think this quote outlines the argument the best: “More good news from the environmental community: not only won’t we kill as many jobs as you think, we only want to raise your energy bill a little bit!”
The article offers an antidote to this defeatist politics in the form of The New Apollo Project. It’s an organization that wants to rid America of its dependence on foreign oil along the lines of America’s race to the Moon in the 1960’s. Its proposals are framed around the concepts of job creation and economic competition to get its way. It’s stuff like this that gives me hope for the future. The Neo-conservative movement has created its political hegemony out of policies that captured the imagination and argued from a position of strength. If the environmental movement hopes wield that kind of power, it will have to do the same with organizations like the Apollo Alliance.
In reference to the car-free thing I was talking about in the last post, it looks like the fair city of Vancouver is well on its way, thanks to fine work being done at the GVRD. All the right intiatives are there, diversified land use, increased transport options and preservation of green space. It’s good to see that 5 cent gas levy being put into something.
Note: The Death of Environmentalism is best viewed on the Foxit pdf reader. Get it here.