November 30th, 2012
I’m a fan of Bill McKibben’s 350.org, but let’s face it, in the end, everything is driven by conflict. They are bringing a commando/military/activist mentality to the climate problem, which is nice, but it’s also conflict-driven.
THE PEOPLE’S ARMY OF THE CLIMATE. Look at the artwork for the latest activity of the populist climate group 350.org. Is that a Black Power fist? Power to the People, right on. Some things never change.
MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL, WHO’S THE MOST VIRTUOUS OF ALL?
What has always bugged me about the American environmental movement, and bugs a lot of right wingers as well (like P.J. O’Rourke who has written brilliantly on it), is the self-righteous air of virtuousness that environmentalism tends to bring with it.
I’m a fan of a clean healthy environment and I know that all these various cause groups are a necessary part of the process, but at the end of the day, I think it’s also important to keep an eye on the humility factor.
I loved earlier this year when it was pointed out by two academics that the “doubt casting” strategy of today’s climate skeptics, so widely vilified, was also practiced by the goddess of all American environmentalism, Rachael Carson.
I feel the same way about things like 350.org. It’s very cool what they are accomplishing (and I have far, far more respect for them than all the NGOs who raise bundles of money off climate fears), but keep in mind they are drawing on a conflict-based rallying-the-troops mentality, no different than assembling an army to fight a neighboring country. They have their enemy (the hated polluters), they have their fearless leader (Bill McKibben), they have their latest mission (GPS – Global Power Shift), they have their training camps (one in Turkey next June) and they will eventually assemble on their next battlefield.
The point is to once again see the power of storytelling and narrative structure. They are appealing to the same age old basic human elements, which is fine. Just realize the universality of the approach. Everything, in the end, is a conflict. It’s what draws humans in.