Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Eating the greens"

This essay, presented a week ago by British writer Austin Williams at the New School in New York, is an incredible critique of environmentalists and is a must read, given all the letters appearing daily in the Daily News skewering Ed Iverson for daring to question the global warming orthodoxy.

I especially agree with Williams when he states:
It’s a confusing complaint for those like me who are interested in more human-centred politics, because, to me, it seems that rather than the eco-message being marginalized, there is in fact an incessant, domineering, environmental orthodoxy that seems to infect every issue under the sun.

The absence of a critically engaged public discourse on environmental matters – and political culture more generally – caused by the closing down of public debate around environmental concerns, means that ‘green’ issues have entered the public domain as mantras rather than propositions to be debated, fine-tuned and rejected/accepted according to their own merits. One of the curious consequences of this un-contended situation is the inability of the environmental ‘movement’ to believe in their own moral high-ground. In truth, their elevated status has been given to them, rather than won.

The fact that environmentalists have hyped up the evidence-based justification for their existence (however much the actual science of global warming has been disputed by others) means that they see success through the prism of tangible evidence-based results and have ended up as tick-box, check-off managers of good behaviour.

I believe that the logical consequence of an unquestioning acceptance of limits, reduced resource use and individual responsibility - the essential ingredients of the environmental agenda - is a tendency towards small-thinking, while pretending that we're looking at the Big Picture. Unfortunately, without a critical appraisal of the problem and an open-ended debate on possibilities we are simply accepting a new and slightly more cynical spin on the old environmentalist agenda.
Brit Hume had a perfect example of this behavior management foolishness today:
According to a recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, America's meat eaters are a major cause of global warming. American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide than vegetarians every year...According to Noah Mohr of EarthSave International: "Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products."
Oh brother. And yet
Anthony Leiserowitz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Oregon writes: "Most Americans believe global warming is real but a moderate and distant risk. While they strongly support policies like investing in renewable energy, higher fuel economy standards and international treaties, they strongly oppose carbon taxes on energy sources that put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

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