Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Greens as the Defenders of Civilization

Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, writes on page one of his book, Whole Earth Discipline:
Activist Bill McKibben recently noted: “The environmental movement has morphed steadily into the climate change movement.” That means that Greens are no longer strictly the defenders of natural systems against the incursions of civilization; now they’re the defenders of civilization as well. It’s a whiplash moment for everyone.
So much of the resistance to acting on climate change comes from fears that shifting to green energy will reduce our standard of living. To the contrary, I see green energy as protecting our standard of living from environmental degradation and the inevitable rising cost of fossil fuels. I don't think many people would see the point of rebuilding our energy economy if only polar bear habitats were at risk. I worry more about human habitats, including the thousands of homes in Delaware's coastal floodplains that will be lost when the seas rise.

I would like more opponents of action on climate change to see that it's not the polar bears we're worried about. And I would like environmentalists to get better at talking about protecting human systems, and not just natural systems.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without the natural systems, we will slowly die.

Getting people on the bandwagon by protecting "human systems" (what ever that means) may help with climate issues - such as air carbon and ocean acidification and its resulting impacts. This will in turn help some natural systems, and is a good thing, but some aspect of the environment will suffer. It will continue to re-balance differently.

I have not hear the word conservation of energy as part of the renewable discussion in years. How about it? Seems like the green energy is on top of existing use, which is not an improvement, it is more environmental loss.

8:22 PM, November 19, 2010  
Blogger SimplyGreen said...

I think this distinction between "human systems" and "natural systems" is part of the problem that we face right now. As long as we think that we can conduct our lives somehow separate from the ecosystems within which we live, we will continue to fail to protect these very systems upon which we depend. Simply roping them off is no longer enough; we must actively, purposefully protect all ecosystems.

As the old Pogo comicstrip said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We need to take stock in the myriad ways that we currently depend upon our ecosystems. We must break down those relationships into small enough pieces that each of us understands what we can do, indeed what we must do. Even though we consider ourselves creatures of the highest intelligence, we have not shown that we're intelligent enough to properly see the many ways that we've been soiling our own nests.

8:15 PM, December 04, 2010  

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