As a preface to this post, I want to emphasize that, despite what others may think, I consider myself an environmentalist. I always have, and I always will. However, I realize that I just don't fit in with those who wear it on their deceptive unscientific sleeves.
The previous post explained how the environmental movement has failed to evolve, and on a national basis, the movement no longer enjoys the broad-based support that it once did. Surveys by The Nature Conservancy show that most people in America now consider environmentalists to be extremists. What the environmental movement currently lacks in broad appeal, it tries to make up for with stridency. It's as if all the reasonable-sounding environmentalists have been boiled off, leaving a demi glace eco-reduction that is foul-tasting and stale, instead of delicious.
And those remaining in the pure eco-residue have a narrative for explaining what has happened to them, and it usually involves claims of betrayal, Koch-brother inspired conspiracies, dirty-tricks, and general blindness on the part of non-believers who are not smart or enlightened enough to foresee the imminent ecosystem collapse.
Cross the Friends or their friends and you immediately become labeled in this County. You're "street noise," "unethical," "unprofessional," "Republican," "deluded," "a property rights activist," or any number of similar names used to rally the traditional reactionary hatreds in our community. For the environmental purists in our midsts, it isn't about science or community, it's about winning. Labels are part of the winning strategy of marginalization. Labels are, after all, a variety of thought-terminating cliche too. It's what a person does when they want to quell their own cognitive dissonance and end debate, instead of make a point.
When challenged, the narrative of modern environmentalism falls back on dubious claims of pervasive ecosystem harm that ("they" say) is the inevitable consequence of human existence. The narrative makes arcane arguments about carrying capacity, population growth, and societal collapse. It's long on gloomy predictions and short on facts. The solution narrative is always the same: more and more intrusive government control and coordination needed to avert the ecological version of end times.
We've seen two examples of the eco-noise narrative stoking the enviro-disaster furnace over the past week. One is a letter in the famously sympathetic sanjuanislander.com from Janet Alderton, Friends Board member. The other is an abstruse eco-planning tome about carrying capacity from Orcas.
Janet Alderton's letter is typically quaint for its absurdity. It focuses on a study completed two years ago as if it's breaking news. It repeats unfounded claims that she has made ad nauseum of ubiquitous pesticide pollution in our waters, despite such claims being dismissed by both Ecology and highly-qualified eco-toxicologists. Nevertheless, Janet is driven to distraction by the insecticide used to control carpenter ants, and she writes as if the pesticide and the Common Sense Alliance are in cahoots to destroy our planet. As inevitable as another Elvis sighting, in the months and years to come, we'll probably see more preachy "breaking news" from Janet that repeats tired, discredited claims about lethal carpenter-ant pesticide contamination.
And speaking of preachy, when youth (15 to 18) are asked in focus groups what an "environmentalist" looks like to them, the image they conjure up is that of a woman or girl. She wears lots of green and is wealthy and preachy. The word "preachy" shows up over and over again in focus groups. When young people are asked about this archetypical environmentalist, they say that she is nice enough, but they don't want to socialize with her.
The big environmental organizations like the Nature Conservancy realize that's a problem because national demographics are seismically shifting. The conservation movement always has been rich and white, but the country continues to be less so every day.
The message is that if the leaders of the environmental movement continue to look and behave like Janet Alderton, Stephanie Buffum (the ex Mrs Suckling), Lovel Pratt, or Shireene Hale, its long-term outlook is not good.
In the short-term, however, it is the eco-preachers that have cornered us, and it is our outlook that isn't very good. The CAOs have been imbued with "the narrative" and that makes us subject to their preachy, false, and foul-tasting requirements.