An Interesting Exchange with Some Anti-Green Humor

fountainhead.jpgWe had an interesting submission to the carnival of the green last week from a blog called “The Radical Libertarian” entitled greenies and their beliefs. It’s a humorous punch at some of the more radically left-of-center folks who rally under the banner of “greenness”. Although amusing, these complaints expose a woefully outdated way of looking at “environmentalism” that is held by those who choose to see extremists as representative of the entire movement, and possibly mask their own concern for wellbeing with an aloof front. That said, the post is dead-on in exposing some real crack-pots who rear their heads (such as ELF and ALF) from time to time, and do indeed paint a terrible picture of “environmentalism” to the mainstream.
As a result, there are a lot of people who have been rubbed the wrong way by the idea of “environmentalism”. To them it means an intrusive form of extremism – at best an annoying inconvenience that hinders their ability to do business and live their lives, and at worst, an evil force, literally “anti-human” as the self-proclaimed followers of Ayn Rand say.


So is it the fault of enviro-extremists that this has happened? Partly. But total ignorance is no excuse either. The burden now lies on those who are capable of seeing the issues reasonably in order to bridge these communications gaps and present a sane, thoughtful, and respectful path toward adressing the myriad problems – environmental, political, social, military, and cultural – that plague us.
So. Here’s a point by point recap of the “top 10 list of signs you are a Greenie” from The Radical Libertarian. In the name of weeding out hypocracy, ignorance and stupidity on all facets of the political spectrum, I digress…

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10. You’re furious that pounds kill pets, so you support an organization which kills pets.
This is a reference to some PETA members who apparantly euthanized some dogs illegally. PETA can definitely cross the line into extreme behavior, but basically serves a useful watchdog role. Nobody wants to hurt dogs. Nobody thinks it’s great that we test cosmetics on thousands of rabbits strapped in labs. Reducing these things is good. And in the case of the rabbits, there are new technologies that are making their service unnedeed. As for the dogs, unfortunatly, just like at the city pound, some animals cannot be given homes and are euthanized. It’s really sad. I don’t know the circumstances of the workers referred to in the editorial because it’s a pretty innane one sided attack. Still, people who get bent out of shape because some dogs don’t make it to new homes need to pick more important things to worry about, but on the other hand, how are they representative of “greenies” in any way? There is a major disconect between this amusing irony and the thesis. Of course, maybe I’m just interperting “greenie” the wrong way?
9. You think coal pollution is better than nuclear waste, and then you complain about the quality of our air.
I’m not sure I understand this one at all. Nobody thinks coal pollution is ‘better’ than nuclear waste. Coal energy is obviously filthy. Nuclear energy is also controversial because of the dangerous waste it produces. Some envro-types are quite in favor of nukes. But there are other solutions to our energy needs than building either – renewables are quickly improving, as is efficiency – which is stimulated by the free market – as energy costs go up, we get more efficient. If we can embrace efficiency as a national priority then neither coal nor nuclear plants will be needed.
8. You think “risk assessment” is a board game.
This one I don’t get. Someone needs to explain it to me.
7. You constantly complain about layoffs, but you think losing millions of jobs (and billions of dollars) is okay if it helps reduce the air temperature by a fraction of a degree. You think people promoting the alternative of sound technological solutions are crackpots.
Bah. The Kyoto accord will not cause millions of jobs to be lost, unless the companies that provide those jobs continue to keep their heads in the sand, in which case, like GM, they’re screwed anyhow. It’s very much to the long-term detriment of the United States that we did not sign the accord. The carbon trading schemes that have been put into place are already resulting in tremendous innovation in Europe and Japan toward vastly more efficient manufacturing and recycling methods and energy production while we languish. You get more than environmental benefits from efficiency – you get much better competitiveness. Who’s going to lose that battle? Fortunately, many US companies, including a bunch of fortune 500s started the Chicago Climate Exchange to start dealing with what our political leaders refuse to acknowledge. Hopefully it helps.
6. You’re pissed off when people serve you meat, but you act surprised when people blast you for wanting to enforce veganism on your future innocent babies.
Wow, that’s an awfully harsh attack. There is nothing wrong with either vegitarianism or veganism. I think that when people get quasi-religous about it, it gets annoying, and sometimes irrational. But I think saying that it’s unhealthy is completely false. Cutting back on meat, especially red-meat is a very good idea. That dosn’t mean you can’t enjoy it once in a while, but a more vegetable based diet is without question, healthier. This woman’s kid will make up his own mind some day. Having never met them, it’s pretty harsh to start throwing accustaions like that.
5. You think the precautionary principle is AOK, except when it’s applied against you. Then it becomes a matter of principles.
Precautionary or Proactionary? That’s an interesting link that I don’t have time to read into, but if you’re right, sometimes the precautionary principal stifles things, but I’m not prepared to debate it… will read further. That’s the great thing about these conversations, you’ve got me thinking. Cool eh?
4. You get mad when anyone says you think other animals are more important than people, but you cheer when hunters die or animal researchers are threatened with their grandmother’s corpse.
Bizarre stuff! You’ve exposed some true hypocracy, but it’s a bunch of kids on chatboards and some stoned weirdos playing pranks. How is that representative of anything?
3. You think “The Tragedy of the Commons” is a Shakespeare play.
I’m all for private ownership. Tragedy of the Commons is an important concept but I think it’s overused. The planet itself is a finite commons no matter how you try to comprehend it. Even if it’s chopped up into millions of private parcels, the actions of one will always affect the others, especially when it comes to air, water, waste, etc… So we need a better way of letting private ownership and capitalism function. Have you read Natural Capitalism?

2. You say we should respect all life, then you gulp antibiotics. The hypocrisy of this doesn’t register in your mind at all.

Huh? Reading that sentance just cost me two I.Q. points
1. You’re so concerned about third-world hunger that you campaign to ban life-saving GM foods from Africa.
GM food, like Nuclear energy has some major drawbacks. But whether you support it or not, the problems of Africa are vastly more complicated that most people can begin to imagine, and being against the distribution of some GM grains there, while supporting other efforts is NOT hypocritical.
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Phew.. well that just killed my evening. Time for a beer. But – a good start to some bridge building thinking perhaps. What do you think?

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.