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Beyond my comfort zone: Environmentalism - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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March 14th, 2008

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03:04 pm - Beyond my comfort zone: Environmentalism
teriel asks

You've made some of your views on the environmental movement fairly clear. But do you think there's any benefit to environmentalism? If so what is that benefit?

I think protecting the environment is of vital importance, which is why I am so vastly annoyed at much of the US environmental movement. For both practical and spiritual considerations, I think making complex animals extinct is a horribly vile idea (I'm all for making various viruses and bacteria extinct, but even then, keeping samples around is IMHO advisable).

Also, because I value my own health and the health of the people I care about, and because I think that everyone should have access to clean air, safe food, and pure water, I'm strongly in favor of reducing the toxins we are all exposed to. I remember the late 1960s and early 1970s in the DC area, before the introduction of the pollution reductions produced by the 1970 Clean Air Act – I remember late summer days when I walked outside and felt my eyes burn from the smog. Those days are done. Various laws and technology like catalytic converters have transformed air pollution (as opposed to CO2 emissions) in the US from a serious problem that was getting worse, to a relatively minor problem that still needs improvement, but isn't that bad in most places.

I lived in LA in the early 90s, and the smog was fairly bad, and the air quality definitely needed improvement. However, knew a fellow grad student a couple years older than me, who grew up in LA, and talked about how chokingly horrible the smog used to be in the 1960s and early 1970s. Air pollution was vastly improved with a combination of lobbying to pass Federal Laws and new technology that was made mandatory (catalytic converters). Unfortunately, new technologies and government action are two things that are commonly dismissed in much of the US environmental movement. Instead the (ludicrous) idea that technology can't solve our problems and a general distrust of the concept of governmental regulation, and an emphasis on personal, local action are all common.

I applaud environmental efforts like the major solar initiative in Germany, which was intended to produce 20% of Germany's electricity from solar power, and which looks to actually achieve 25%. National laws and new solar technologies are making that happen, and those are precisely the tools that I think are most important. For example, if large corporations had to pay additional taxes based on their CO2 emissions and this tax money was used to fund various forms of energy production that did not produce greenhouse gases, I think global warming would become a far more manageable issue.

My reaction to radical feminism and much of US environmentalism is much the same. I very much consider myself to be a feminist, and am both angered and horrified by the transphobia, sexual puritanism, and gender essentialism of most radical feminists. Similarly, I consider myself to be an environmentalist and am angered and horrified by the anti-technology attitudes and the complete distrust of governments and large-scale action that is common in much US environmentalism.
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