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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Environmental stewardship, revisited


Finally, someone besides me is noticing that this is no longer your grandfather's environmentalism:

Even environmentalism, which was once motivated by a love of the natural world, now seems more concerned with finding slightly less destructive ways of enabling an overprivileged civilisation to carry on surfing the internet and buying laptops and yoga mats than it does with protecting wildlife from its ravenous jaws.

All the talk these days is about carbon and something obscure called “sustainability”. There’s much less talk about the kind of human-scale cultures we might want to foster, or why we would even want to help sustain a culture that requires the ransacking of every square centimetre of soil, forest, ocean, river and wilderness to survive. In its understandably pragmatic, green-lite approach to reducing emissions, it lost both its vision and its soul, forgetting that a movement without either is hardly pragmatic.

As Paul Kingsnorth notes in his remarkable new collection of essays, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, environmentalism has reduced itself to being “the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy”. Kingsnorth remarks that it is now, in broad terms, focusing its efforts on “sustaining human civilisation at the comfort level that the world’s rich – us – feel is their right, without destroying the ‘natural capital’ needed to do so”.

So instead of defending wild places we now spend our time arguing how to best domesticate these wild places – deserts, oceans, mountains – to generate the “green” energy needed to fuel things that, up until recently, we couldn’t even imagine, let alone claim to need. Environmentalism’s increasingly urban mindset, Kingsnorth claims, can be summed up by an absurd equation: “Destruction – Carbon = Sustainability”.

Guardian - Comment Is Free.

As far back as 1988, 75 million people ago, Edmund Abbey sounded the alarm in an essay the New York Times refused to publish:

To everything there is a season, to every wave a limit, to every range an optimum capacity. The United States has been fully settled, and more than full, for at least a century. We have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by allowing the old boat to be swamped. How many of us, truthfully, would prefer to be submerged in the Caribbean-Latin version of civilization? (Howls of "Racism! Elitism! Xenophobia!" from the Marx brothers and the documented liberals.) Harsh words: but somebody has to say them. We cannot play "let's pretend" much longer, not in the present world.

Therefore-let us close our national borders to any further mass immigration, legal or illegal, from any source, as does every other nation on earth. The means are available, it's a simple technical-military problem. Even our Pentagon should be able to handle it. We've got an army somewhere on this planet, let's bring our soldiers home and station them where they can be of some actual and immediate benefit to the taxpayers who support them. That done, we can begin to concentrate attention on badly neglected internal affairs. Our internal affairs. Everyone would benefit, including the neighbors. Especially the neighbors. Ah yes. But what about those hungry hundreds of millions, those anxious billions, yearning toward the United States from every dark and desperate corner of the world? Shall we simply ignore them? Reject them? Is such a course possible?

"Poverty," said Samuel Johnson, "is the great enemy of human happiness. It certainly destroys liberty, makes some virtues impracticable, and all virtues extremely difficult."

You can say that again, Sam.

Poverty, injustice, over breeding, overpopulation, suffering, oppression, military rule, squalor, torture, terror, massacre: these ancient evils feed and breed on one another in synergistic symbiosis. To break the cycles of pain at least two new forces are required: social equity - and birth control. Population control. Our Hispanic neighbors are groping toward this discovery. If we truly wish to help them we must stop meddling in their domestic troubles and permit them to carry out the social, political, and moral revolution which is both necessary and inevitable.

Or if we must meddle, as we have always done, let us meddle for a change in a constructive way. Stop every campesino at our southern border, give him a handgun, a good rifle, and a case of ammunition, and send him home. He will know what to do with our gifts and good wishes. The people know who their enemies are.