Environmentalism Has Been Recycled

The living systems which support life on earth are in serious threat due to human activity. Scientists, activists and others have spent the past half-century screaming about this to seemingly deaf ears. Now, with the multiplying consequences of climate change (not to mention the massive poisoning and irradiation of the global environment) boiling up like stormclouds from the horizon, the “inconvenient truth” has become commonplace. Phrases from the ecological movement are now heard from the mouths of government officials and industry leaders; environmentalists are going to lunch with senators and starring in reality TV shows. Meanwhile, ice melts and tumors grow.

Some respond to the unfolding disaster with numbed apathy; other urge us to “Do something!” But what are we going to do, on whose behalf and why?

An obvious place to start is with the “human activity” mentioned in our first sentence. This is often given as the source of the ecological problem. But it’s not hard to see that since human beings have existed for millions of years and (contrary to the pop science of First World enviros like Jared Diamond) until recently have not caused any massive catastrophes, this explanation is missing something: the relations between humans, specifically the authoritarian social structures and capitalist economies that have taken over the world in the past few millennia, creating our present reality of pollution, exploitation, impoverishment and misery for people and the land.

The Sierra Club’s recent documentary “Wild Versus Wall” on the ecological effects of U.S. border policy is a good example. While the SC’s position on human migration
across borders is “neutral” (despite the attempts of Earth First! founder Dave Foreman, Whale Wars star Paul Watson and others to create an anti-migrant stance), the video shows people scaling the wall as evidence that it “isn’t solving the immigration problem.” Whaaat? It’s killing hundreds of people a year. What do you want, some kind of Final Solution? Later on some idiot in a suit pleads with the government to go ahead and “secure” the border, just “in an environmentally-friendly way,” with high-tech surveillance equipment. Another example: the Pentagon’s 2003 report on climate change “and Its Implications for United States National Security” which points towards new strategies of social control in a world thrown into intense social and ecological chaos.

Many people who sincerely care about human sustainability and harmony between
all species are being taken in by “green” politicians and businesspeople. They would mobilize us for the sake of our own survival, but it’s only their control they want to sustain. They are the threat to our survival, always have been and always will be until there is a radical change in relations among humans. As these texts point out, any environmentalism which ignores this is useful only to those who want to continue the rule of the elite, despite limited ‘resources,’ changing climate and the rest. Those of us who want to get rid of them, and who really want a healthy situation on planet Earth, could benefit from studying the plans being drafted today for tomorrow’s “eco-friendly” world domination.

—Sticks and Stones, April 2009

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