Aussie environmentalists: read this (and other people too)

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.

Categories: environmentalism, Problems | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A stone to mark two miles

Two years ago, I was packing my bags, having woken in the wake of a going-away party. I was soon to board the longest flight of my life, taking me to a new home and my first glimpse of squirrels.

Much has changed. I work in a job which sounds almost too wondrous to be true. Ensconced in the London Science Museum, I am working with spaceships and zombies and particle accelerators. My colleagues are as good a bunch as I could ask for and I have a world of intriguing events and people closer than ever. I’ve had the opportunity to work on the first international Green Steps course, and had an injection of motivation from that.

But the world has changed too. That time, two years ago, held political optimism for those on the left and the environmental movement. Strange but interesting coalitions were in power in Australia and the UK, and Obama hadn’t yet lost the House. Now, somehow, we’ve not just gone backward, but aggressively so. Politicians who are shamelessly selfish and shortsighted are not just visible, but thriving. And it’s against a backdrop of global warning signs, loud and clear, that societies and the planet are ready to boil over.

See that blue line? That’s unprecedented. And it matters. It matters a lot.

An important and deep part of me is not happy. How can I be when the world I love, the world I want to experience and share with the people in it, is being run even further off the track by the rich and powerful?

Maybe one day I’ll be able to make peace with that voice inside me. But for now, all I can do is draw motivation from it. So, I am using the anniversary of my leaving Australia to set a few goals. They sound a bit outlandish to me now, but I want to know if I can practice what I preach.

In the next two years, I will:

  • Track my carbon footprint for a year and keep it below the UK average
  • Spend at least 3 months experiencing cultures outside my own
  • Work on environmental projects whenever I can
  • Leave no stone unturned exploring what this old megacity can offer, because I’ll be leaving before two years are out
  • Be politically active
  • Move gracefully through middle age of my science communicating life (I kid. Kind of)

I was asked in an interview in May where I saw myself in 5 years. It was impossible for me to answer. Australia is probably the bookmakers’ favourite, at least in the country stakes. But beyond that? I can’t even hazard a guess. This is a post, a stone by the roadside, I’ll look back on to see how much has changed.

An empty wave on a secluded beach

Maybe somewhere like this. Yeah, I can picture that lifestyle… shhh, not telling you where.

Oh, and see Samsara. It will blow your mind, reassemble it, shatter it, glue it back together, then vapourise it.

Do it now. Use Google and find out if it’s playing at a cinema near you, steel yourself, and keep your eyes and mind open. I’ll explain why later.

Categories: environmentalism, Politics, Problems, Thoughts | 2 Comments

There’s something we need to do


Categories: environmentalism, Videos | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

On the plus side

The forces for good are not lying down. There are people out there, shouting for change and getting behind progress.

Because we shouldn’t forget! Support those who support the future, and stand on the right side of history.

Categories: communication, environmentalism, Videos | Leave a comment

“I wish I was rich, and if I were…”

Twenty years ago, the 12 year old daughter of activist David Suzuki blasted the world’s governments. Take the time to listen to it. Every single word applies today. It really starts to hit home around the 5 minute mark – powerful words.

Categories: environmentalism, Videos | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: