Let me start out by saying that I am concerned with the well-being of the planet for the future. Air pollution, congestion, finite resources, peak oil, loss of biodiversity, etc. are issues we need to consider because they pose serious problems for the future. The economy, the planet, the people, and the biosphere rely greatly on our natural ecosystems.
I’m currently studying environmental geography in college (along with US studies and political science). I’m learning about climate change, ecosystems, and solutions to improving human processes and their impacts to the environment. From what research I’ve done, and from talking to earth scientists (experts in their field), there is no doubt that humans are doing a lot of damage to the environment. No doubt in my mind that there is a problem.
But its not all bad news, it is starting to change. Eco- or environmentally friendly products are in demand in the market; the organic industry is accumulating billions of dollars, recycled goods are sold from the shelves of mainstream stores, etc. Awareness is also doing a lot to preserve biodiversity and green-space (at least in North America.)
I have nothing against the environmental activists, I for one, consider myself to be green. My problem is with the environmentalists who have this kind of mentality; people that:
• Recycle their paper
• Re-use their bags
• Re-use their cups/bottles/mugs
• Use recycled paper
• Hate big oil and energy companies
• Hate corporations in general and blame them for polluting everything
• Vote democrat/left-wing party because they’re suited to solve the problem
• And then think government should do the rest
For the record, I do all of those things I mentioned (except the last two points). Here’s my problem.
If you fall into the description I posted above AND you have an SUV, fly all around the world for your “environmental conferences”, eat animal meat or animal products (devastatingly horrible for the environment), and use products from the big corporations that you hate so much, you’re a hypocrite.
First of all, recycling and re-using your goods is a great thing to do, but it does very little in the long run. I don’t mean to discourage anyone from doing them, but if you look at the big picture, you need to do a little more than that. Second, letting government come up with the solution is not going to solve anything.
These big, polluting corporations are what they are for mainly two reasons:
1) They get a lot of benefits from the government.
What good are rules if you can break them?
2) If not that, they are very popular among consumers.
This is either by creating a monopoly (giving consumers no choice) or by being so good and necessary that everyone wants to buy their product. In that case, consumers are making a choice to indirectly pollute the planet whether they know it or not.
Most of the environmental activists I know think that government is responsible for cleaning up after us. I’ll respond to that by saying: they’ve been “in charge” of it for the past ten or fifteen years, maybe it’s time we take matters into our own hands?
I often get this, “Well that’s because the Republicans or (anyone from the right-wing) doesn’t like them!” And somehow, by voting for a Democrat or a left-wing party, this problem will be solved.
Government, whether left or right, does not have such a great track record with the environment. Did you know that the U.S. Government is the biggest polluter on the planet? Not Exxon or Wal-Mart or Monsanto, but the U.S. Federal Government? And you expect government to clean up the mess when their practices are disastrous? They subsidize and are good friends with most of the companies that pollute in the first place.
What will finally change this self-destructing habit is getting consumers aware of the problem, and aware of the solutions. Giving individuals the ability to choose where they want their energy, how they want their food grown, and what products they want their textiles from will make the difference. Sitting around and waiting for Congress to finally look at the Green Is Good Act will never happen. It’s too little, too late by that time.
Nazzy S. is the author/editor for Puff Critique. Twitter: @PuffCritique