Flinty Catherine Mulholland, author of the biography of William Mulholland - the water "czar" who brought water to Southern California in the early 20th century - was asked to comment on her famous grandfather's many critics. Her response:
"They take baths don't they?"
The same could be said of many (not all) environmental activists who use modern technology to organize cross-state rallys to raise their Luddite complaints to block innovative, green business ventures. How do they think this civilization came to provide them with utilities like cellphones, plumbing, electricity, transportation, and the internet?
This article, which appears in Wired Magazine (May 2006) takes this theme and applies it to the changing face of environmentalism. The Green Revolution must rise above NIMBYism and communal provincialism and recognize the stakes inherent in the status quo - pollution, global warming, blackouts, and foreign wars.
The Next Green Revolution:
How technology is leading environmentalism out of the anti-business, anti-consumer wilderness.
By Alex Nikolai Steffen
For decades, environmentalists have warned of a coming climate crisis.
Green-minded activists failed to move the broader public not because they were wrong about the problems, but because the solutions they offered were unappealing to most people. They called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain. They rejected technology, business, and prosperity in favor of returning to a simpler way of life. No wonder the movement got so little traction. Asking people in the world's wealthiest, most advanced societies to turn their backs on the very forces that drove such abundance is naive at best.
Americans trash the planet not because we're evil, but because the industrial systems we've devised leave no other choice. Our ranch houses and high-rises, factories and farms, freeways and power plants were conceived before we had a clue how the planet works. They're primitive inventions designed by people who didn't fully grasp the consequences of their actions.
You don't change the world by hiding in the woods, wearing a hair shirt, or buying indulgences in the form of save the earth bumper stickers. You do it by articulating a vision for the future and pursuing it with all the ingenuity humanity can muster. Indeed, being green at the start of the 21st century requires a wholehearted commitment to upgrading civilization. Four key principles can guide the way:
It may seem impossibly far away, but on days when the smog blows off, you can already see it: a society built on radically green design, sustainable energy, and closed-loop cities; a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, nontoxic, recyclable technology. That's a future we can live with.
technorati environmentalism, green, recycling, legislation, Revolution, energy