Environmentalism is destroying the planet

Wednesday, 24th March 2010 at 18:31 UTC Leave a comment

There is a lot wrong with the Climate Movement at this particular point in its history. One of the areas that has begun to draw attention are the closening relationships between several of the biggest names, both individuals and organisations, in the Green world and the business world. Two articles appeared earlier this month that pointed out the Elephant in the room for environmentalism in 2010, but still little is being done to ensure wider understanding of this issue.

George Monbiot wrote for Counter Punch, an American outlet, an article entitled “Greens Who Defect to the Corporate World Jeopardize the Very Survival of Environmentalism” in which he points to the widening gap between the theory and the practice in solving the Climate Catastrophe. Whilst almost everyone says they want to be more green, no one is prepared to do anything about it. He talks of ways in which powerful regulatory frameworks have been cast aside in favour of a pick-n-mix, “do it when it suits” model of responsible business.

But he also highlights the Image Transfer process. Much like Supermarkets absorbing the good karma of FairTrade for their own much less praiseworthy ends, big corporations with a vested interest in inaction on the climate have done much to absorb the public’s goodwill for Green Issues. Much more money awaits those environmentalists who will engage in this kind of work, because it usually results in net-rises in profits, CO2 emissions and in public belief that the company in question is somehow more responsible, all at the same time.

All of this comes back down to the fact that Corporate Power is governed not by any human sentiment, but by pathological profit-seeking, in which no price is too large other than one that causes a net reduction in profit. For more on this aspect of corporations, and the disconnect between the aspirations of their workers and bosses and the reality that is created by the pursuit of profit, read “The Corporation” by Joel Bakan or watch the film by the same name.

Johann Hair also wrote an article, “The Wrong Kind of Green”, this time for the Nation. That both of these have appeared in American publications is no surprise. The fact is, American organisations have been undertaking this kind of action-limiting behaviour since long before Copenhagen.. A lot of faith in the ability of the green movement to act has been shot down by the increasingly visible disconnect between suggested actions and their intended outcomes. Even Christian Aid is still focusing on getting governments to set targets at the UN, instead of targeting the actual production of CO2, as if the targets alone signal a solution to the crisis.

Some of this comes down to America’s tradition of staunchly “Conservationist” green organisations, like the National Resource Defence Council and Conservation International, who’s ethos has always been more of preservation than on forward-thinking environmentalism, a sort of Blue-Green nostalgia for the time when the rich could ride their horses through pristine countryside, rather than the fight for a liveable world for all that mark the Red-Green environmentalism I’m much more comfortable with.

The solutions to all of this may yet come in the form of some kind of regulation of regulation of the green industry. One of the saddest facts is that many individual donors, the people who’s money could go to funding effective action on climate change, still see these huge household-name campaign groups as the place to donate their hard earned cash, both reducing the amount the corporations have to pay in order to get their payoff and making it harder for everyone else to speak out.

One specific problem comes from the brain-drain effect. It becomes very obvious that those who want a job in the environmental movement must be prepared to stomach a few compromises. With student debt so high, is it any wonder so many graduates are actively seeking highly paid positions working to let major polluters off the hook for their crimes? Whatever the immediate impacts, the fact is that anything that presents a barrier to a solution on the Climate must be challenged. Its just a pity to see “old friends” in the firing line.


Entry filed under: Activism, Climate Change, Environment, Politics, Sustainability.

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