Rethinking Environmentalism

Here's what I've been thinking:

To suggest that we are somehow harming the Earth, that we have a responsibility to the planet as we are its stewards, is really the same thing as saying: We are privileged on this planet, distinct from it, and hence are free to exhaust and consume all of its many splendored bounty. These are two sides of the same coin.

Read more at Thought Catalog >


Linz said...

Another silly thing about the environmental movement is its impulse to preserve ecosystems as they are, to protect nature from the disruptive forces of humanity and technology—as if nature weren't a wildly disruptive force of change itself.

I'm reminded of this from FN:

"According to nature" you want to live? O you noble Stoics, what deceptive words these are! Imagine a being like nature, wasteful beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without purposes and consideration, without mercy and justice, fertile and desolate and uncertain all at the same time; imagine indifference itself as a power—how could you live according to this indifference? Living—is not that precisely wanting to be other than this nature? Is not living—estimating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different? And supposing your imperative "live according to nature" meant at bottom as much as "live according to life"—how can you not do that? Why make a principle out of what you yourselves are and must be?

Daniel Coffeen said...

Or as if humans were not natural.... Your quote from Nietzsche is exactly what I had in mind when I wrote that nature if indifferent.

You got my number, L.

Chad Lott said...

The way these arguments get mobilized have interesting effects on the service industry. Michael Pollen writes that food should be from within 100 miles and all of a sudden the ranch I work for is too far away, at the California border.

As a bartender and a meat salesman I often think about two things: E.M. Forster's whole thing about "only connect" and something my dad (another bartender) told me years ago. "The most valuable commodity you can sell is the illusion of mutual respect".

Our environment includes cities, oil slicks, cheetos, and assholes. Step one to improvement is selling more of the illusion.

Daniel Coffeen said...

The effect of the100 mile rule is so depressingly hilarious and maddening. It's right out The Wire: the unintentional effect of good intention. Foiled again.

Now I'm gonna go try and sell some illusion, if not some actual mutual respect. Truly.

V said...

Re: the environment, George Carlin beat you to the punch.


More to follow.

V said...

"The focus should not be oil or plants or dolphins but the day to day pleasure of human beings. And then everything else will fall into place."

Perhaps, if pleasure is radically reconceived as other than "total inactivity and the relentless laying up of calories." It is that species of pleasure which has our species in hot water.

Re: movie popcorn, you have an educated white man's bias against seeing "film" reduced to but one element in a communal, sometimes Brueghel-esque carnival. I share that bias, but I am not immune to the charms of Dan McCall's description of the tumultous conversation between film and audience during a Harlem screening of "100 Rifles," or Kageyama's ode, in "Lessons In The Fundamentals of Go," to the joys of hollering support for the hero while noisily snacking on cheap fried cuttlefish.

jay said...

You had me up to popcorn eating. I like the smell of popcorn at the movie theater. Although I will admit that eating it is always a little bit of a disappointment. And that weird butter makes my fingers sticky.

Daniel Coffeen said...

The popcorn comment was meant as a hiccup, a casting light on the specificity of environment while performatively pointing to its limits. Or something.

Between you and me and everyone else, I find popcorn in theaters repulsive: the sound of greedy rummaging hands and blank, masticating mouths repulses me no end.