The Global Mail – rapidly becoming my favourite source of quality online journalism – has this moderate but excoriating article from Mike Steketee:
A persistent criticism of the modern environment movement is that it has grown top heavy, bureaucratic and complacent, neglecting grass roots activity in favour of what Americans call inside-the-beltway politics. In the words of one activist, “I am always amazed at how many people are sitting around tables as opposed to delivering the message”. And as one policy maker told the evaluation study: “We were surprised at how poorly the environment movement understands and mobilises its members.” Direct lobbying of politicians has its place but it is much less effective without building public support.
If you don’t have time to read it all now, bookmark it and check it out when you do. It is a cutting lesson in why a corporate approach to environmentalism can be paralysing or counterproductive. While I don’t want to exempt them from criticism as I can’t see the whole picture of what they do, I’ve got the impression that some organisations – like the AYCC and BeachCare – do focus on actively building support and mobilising people.
Me? I am probably the pot calling the kettle black. I’m not actively involved in an enviro group; I yell a bit here and there, and recently turned down a free trip to Malaysia for environmental reasons (and because it sounded strange), but feel quite disengaged from many of the big organisations and haven’t tried hard to track down smaller ones. Things like the Save the Arctic campaign, which has been big lately in the UK, just don’t do it for me. The Arctic as we’ve known it is screwed. We can’t save it. The real objective – stop Shell drilling there – is perhaps a noble one, but I am turned off by the rhetoric.
So what am I going to do about it? I don’t know. One of my goals for this year is to be more politically active, and I think that means I need to get on with writing some letters, for now at least. What with Cameron and Davey pissing all over each other’s policy announcements in a farce to rival The Thick Of It and buzzards being poisoned.
Anyway, here’s a nice picture from last winter in Regent’s Park.
Oh, go read that article. Dooo ittttt.