What the hell happened to the environmental movement?

This post was originally published on Earth Day, 2009. The responses I received from it were tremendous, both positive and negative. Were I to write it again today, I would include a discussion of Carbon Offsets and Eco-Guilt.

There is a real challenge in the environmental movement. On one hand, the science is on our side, but on the other hand, there is a growing group within the movement committed to dogma and willing to sacrifice facts for pseudoscience. So, this Earth day, we once again bring you “What the hell happened to the environmental movement?”

473px-rachel-carsonForty-seven years ago, a brilliant, passionate scientist who understood the power of public outreach, noticed a decline in songbird populations, discovered a trend of decreasing egg shell thickness, and correlated this effect with the increase in the use of DDT as a pesticide. After thoroughly and rigorously verifying her results and conclusions, she did something revolutionary; she wrote a book. The publication of Silent Spring in 1962 marks the beginning of the modern environmental movement in America. Its simple, elegant prose made the complex interaction between humankind and the environment accessible to a public that had limited exposure to scientific writing. Like other works of literary science, Silent Spring, wove the scientific method into a narrative; observations, questions, conflicts, discoveries, joy and sorrow. To struggle and to understand, never the last without the first. The beauty of her words still echo with that same power today. Read More

Seeing Green

Is eco-chic all is cut out to be?

Did you ever meet that gear-head who had a shelf full of Nalgenes or a trunk full of those reusable shopping bags?  At the time, did you stop and think about the environmental impact of these eco-friendly products? In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to take a moment to step back and evaluate the state of our environmental movement.

Yes, at some level these things reduce your personal environmental impact.  They save millions of plastic bags and cups from entering the waste stream and therefore our biosphere.  At the same time, they promote the consumer culture that created many of our environmental issues in the first place.

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