How Can Environmentalists Stop "Tearing Each Other Apart"?

Say what you like about George Monbiot, from his assertion that biofuels for electricity is eco-vandalism to his new-found enthusiasm for nuclear, he is not afraid to dive into some of the awkward questions that many greens prefer to avoid. He usually has some solid evidence to back up his assertions too. I've had one of his latest missives bookmarked for a week, but had a feeling I would need some time and brain-space to absorb it. I finally found that space. And I was not disappointed. In an urgent appeal for all environmentalists to quit bickering and to confront reality, he argues that all of us are on the same side - and that we need to think well beyond our pet causes if we are going to overcome the challenges we face:

Denial is everywhere. Those opposing windfarms find it convenient to deny that climate change is happening, or that turbines produce much electricity. Those promoting windfarms downplay the landscape impacts. Nuclear enthusiasts ignore the impacts of uranium mining. Opponents of nuclear power dismiss the solid science on the impacts of radiation and embrace wildly-inflated junk numbers instead. Primitivists decry all manufacturing industry, but fail to explain how their medicines and spectacles, scythes and billhooks will be produced. Localists rely on technologies - such as microwind and high-latitude solar power - that cannot deliver. Technocratic greens refuse to see that if economic growth is not addressed, a series of escalating catastrophes is inevitable. Romantic greens insist that the problem can be solved without even engaging in these dilemmas, yet fail to explain how else it can be done.

We're all responding to the same impulses, but we're all being tripped up by denial. Denial, and a failure to see the whole picture, are our enemies. Or perhaps, as doctors say about alcohol, our false friends.

Perhaps unusually for Mr Monbiot he doesn't propose any concrete answers. But he insists that we must engage in the real questions. And on that, I could not agree with him more.

Tags: Activism | Ethical

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