The many things the movement has done well.
However, despite my repeated denials, some posters seemed to think that I was blaming environmentalism for a variety of ills or hostile to the environmental movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just don’t think that it is particularly useful or interesting for us to sit here “talking” about how wonderful we all are and how misguided/foolish/evil everyone else is. Nor do I think it is useful to pursue a general strategy of enviroliberalism, as I think it limits both our alliances and our policy visions. I’ve admired Grist for its willingness to think outside these traditional frameworks, which is why I was interested in writing here.On most environmental issues, my goals are absolutely identical to our movement’s mainstream — it’s just I think that the mainstream policy ideas are, in some cases, misguided. So I am trying to, in the apt words of one of my respondents “stir things up.”
But in order to dispel any remaining confusion, just off the top of my head (no peeking at the textbook), here are a few of the many things I think the environmental movement has done right over the years:
- The creation and expansion of the national park system;
- raising awareness of the global warming problem;
- fighting environmentally destructive and economically wasteful giveaways to timber companies in our national forests;
- working to prevent global overfishing;
- working to lower the environmental levels of a variety of toxins;
- fighting snowmobiling in our national parks;
- taking the lead in pushing the development of alternative, non-polluting energy sources;
- pushing a largely successful international ban on whaling;
- fighting a global over-reliance on big dams, particularly in the developing world;
- leading attempts to make sure our natural resources are valued in economic decision-making;
- developing and growing the land trust movement;
- raising awareness of the plight of any number of endangered species;
- working to save the last remaining rainforests;
- fighting many ill-conceived projects of the Army corps of engineers; and
- encouraging conservation as a key part of America’s energy strategy.
I’m sure many of you can come up with better and more complete lists, and someone will no doubt find a way to criticize some aspect of the above list as “anti-environmental” in a way I can’t possibly foresee. But, in general, I hope this makes my point, and viewpoint, clear.
OK, so now I’ve patted the environmental movement on the back a bit. Are we all feeling better? Good, because there are a lot of problems that I’d still like to discuss, and I’ll begin in my next post …