There is another crunch going on at the moment, but it feels more like a stampede: the “environmental” (I use this word with a huge amount of irony now) pressure groups of the USA and UK have hit the Panic! button and made the decision not to try and save the planet from Industrial Civilization, but to go all out in order to appeal to the masses, and bugger the consequences.
We have seen all sorts of greenwash and weasel words emerging from the likes of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as a perfect example of ultra light-green spin from Greenpeace. The signs are that the NGOs are so desperate to justify their existence that they will do anything just to look as though they are making progress.
What they are instead doing is moving us away from anything like a solution to the environmental catastrophe that we need to be heading off now.
With Greenpeace traditionally seen as one of the more radical of the NGOs, it is especially galling to hear from the inside that they have become little more than a self-justifying anachronism, hierarchically managed (with people like John Sauven of Greenpeace UK acting like CEOs of corporations, rather than guiding lights for a community of keen individuals) and conservative in the extreme.
Here’s a quote from today’s Guardian which illustrates this perfectly. With reference to the right-wing, mass-market tabloid, The Daily Mail, running a campaign against compact fluorescent light bulbs:
“The Mail is reaching middle England and it’s exactly middle England that you want to bring on board.”
Essentially, and this gels exactly with how the mainstream environmental groups are now behaving, he thinks that you have to get everyone on board in order to make things better; completely ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Westerners are not willing to make anything like the changes required to reverse environmental meltdown, and that in order to bring “Middle England” on board, you would have to dilute your position so much as to make it totally ineffectual. Which is exactly what Greenpeace UK have done.
Make no mistake, the mainstream environmental movement do not have the answers: they are simply hoping like so many other people, politicians and business people, that if we do bugger all for long enough the problem will simply go away.
It will, just not in quite the way they might imagine.