Environmentalists are living in a clown world
By: Danielle Butcher
October 18, 2022: Suppose I asked you to picture an environmental champion. Who would come to mind? Perhaps a youth activist, such as Greta Thunberg, or the infamous politician Al Gore. Maybe a celebrity, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, or a more traditional conservationist, such as Jane Goodall. There are a number of environmental heroes from all walks of life that one could point to if given the directive. While no one asked, Politico Europe just offered a foul suggestion: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
You read that correctly. Last week, Politico stated, “It took a war criminal to speed up Europe’s green revolution,” going on to explain that by invading Ukraine, Putin “has achieved something generations of green campaigners could not — clean energy is now a fundamental matter of European security.”
Setting aside the fact that this claim is wildly inaccurate (as a result of their energy crisis, Europe is set to fall back on coal and wood burning this winter), there are two plausible explanations for this take: Either the writers at Politico are truly living in a clown world in which they see Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a net positive for the environment and thus worthy of recognition or they are itching for clicks and shock value.
As a gesture of good faith, we will assume that Politico does not actually believe Putin, the war criminal, is some environmental hero and instead conclude the headline is meant to serve another end. After all, it’s not uncommon for environmentalists to resort to hyperbolic rhetoric and disruptive activism to bring attention to their cause. In fact, it occurs so often that, to many, it seems mainstream environmentalism has lost track of the plot.
From the obvious to the obscure, there are countless examples of climate activists being deliberately nonsensical for the sake of making a point. We see this absurd and self-defeating approach to environmentalism in all aspects of the movement, from rhetoric to activism to policy.
In dialogue, some environmentalists have deemed nuclear energy, the largest source of carbon-free energy available, as “too masculine” to be a legitimate clean energy solution. Meanwhile, activism tactics such as blocking traffic are, somehow, among the more tame demonstrations — despite the pesky fact that as cars idle, they emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. While this is contradictory, it’s still not as absurd as the electric vehicle mandate coming out of California — just as the governor advises residents not to charge their electric vehicles due to the threat of rolling blackouts.
If eco-warriors weren’t so caught up in their own stunts, perhaps they could see the harm they do to their own movement. For the average onlooker, it is understandably difficult to be sympathetic to a cause that makes you late for work, raises your energy bills, and praises a ruthless dictator. This perspective requires sensibility, and as it turns out, common sense isn’t all that common. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time to bring the climate fight back down to earth.
For those of us grounded in reality: Climate change is occurring, and natural climate cycles have been accelerated by human activity, namely emitting greenhouse gasses. To combat this, we need to slash global emissions and address the emissions already in the atmosphere. If we believe, as we should, that climate change is an urgent problem warranting urgent action, the environmental movement must stop stalling traffic, blocking legislation that reduces emissions, and giving awards to dictators.
To address climate change, we need a rational, realistic approach that prioritizes both people and planet, one that recognizes the human life inhabiting our world is what makes it special and worth protecting. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach that values action over rhetoric. We need a climate commitment.
More than anything, the green movement must take a hard look in the mirror and remember what it’s fighting for. If the goal is to build a movement behind addressing climate change, current tactics are not cutting it. The status quo will have us waiting forever.
Source: The Washington Examiner