A comment by Evelin Cooper on my last post spoke to the challenge of going beyond “preaching to the converted.” It is a very valid comment and requires a response that faces the realities and puts green bullying and environmental hysteria in perspective. The pattern of change is a saw tooth with a very gradual incline to a peak after which the change is very rapid. Some actions accelerate the process but for a critical mass of people who understand it takes time, especially when they were deliberately misled. People don’t like to admit they were duped.
Environmental extremism is essentially a first world problem; it is a self –inflicted wound that most could not parry because of the way the entire exercise was exploited and manipulated to silence opposition. It became a third world problem as Paul Driessen explained in his book Eco-Imperialism. He defined it as “the forceful imposition of Western environmentalist views on developing countries.”
India was one of those developing nations. It used its more pressing problems of starving people to challenge the claim to the moral high ground of saving the planet from a speculative threat of global warming. As India’s special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran said. "Climate change shouldn't become a mechanism for the perpetuation of poverty." Prior to this only one world leader, Vaclav Klaus former President of the Czech Republic, openly spoke against global warming and the threats of environmentalism. The title of his book summarizes his views: Blue Planet in Green Shackles. As he explains,
Even though environmentalism boasts about its scientific basis, it is, in fact, essentially a metaphysical ideology that refuses to see the world, nature, and humankind as they really are/. It has no regard for spontaneous evolution and takes the current state of the world and nature as an untouchable standard, any changes to which would be a fatal jeopardy.
One respondent to my earlier article, Egil Lomeland, said he circulated it to as many people as possible, a very effective action in an Internet-connected world. Control of information is critical, as all past despots and elite groups knew. The Internet provides that power to the citizens for the first time in history.
Society changes on a very large scale from top to bottom by evolution or revolution. The latter is not desirable or likely in the Western world at present. Two conditions cause people to revolt and overthrow their leaders. One is a failure of the food supply. The other is when leaders forget their power ultimately comes from the people.
On a different scale, changes occur through paradigm shifts, defined as “a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” They occur all the time and tend to follow similar patterns of adoption and adaptation. Two currently at different stages are feminism and environmentalism.
Society adopts the new paradigm at different rates. A small percentage take it up quickly, usually to exploit the power or control it provides. Another small group will never accept the paradigm. The majority accept, but remain unsure how far they should go. There is a natural caution against change because when it occurs some gain, and some lose and they don’t want to be in that group.
Environmentalism was a necessary paradigm shift that took shape and gained acceptance in western society in the 1960s. The idea that we shouldn’t despoil our nest and must live within the limits of global resources is fundamental and self-evident.
Everyone accepted those concepts, but some took different approaches that brought us to where we are now. How far do we take the idea of environmentalism in terms of restricting or punishing people’s behavior? Natural paradigm shifts are not smooth. A small group of extremists adopted the shift to environmentalism for a political agenda.
Environmentalism was necessary, but like all new paradigms a sequence of adoption and adaptation must follow. Gradually it takes hold as people realize the values. The problem is most people don’t know how far to take it.
For years, I wondered about the role of extremists in society. I’ve learned the role of extremists in climate science and environmentalism is no different from the role they play in all paradigm shifts. They define the limits of a new paradigm for the majority. They are the bookends of the paradigm shift in society’s views of the world. Extremists grab the new idea and claim it as theirs. They then bully the rest of society into accepting their view with a missionary fervor.
Part of the problem is the majority see the new idea as an improvement. The challenge for the majority is to determine how much change to make. By taking extreme positions, extremists cause the majority to say, hold on, you are going too far. School students respond with cheers and shouts when I ask them if they care about the environment. When I say, “Fine, then none of you will ever drive cars.” I see a look on their faces that says, well I don’t care that much. Environmentalism for a majority is close to that point.
Every day more people realize global warming is a myth. A UN poll of 6 million people listed it as the last concern out of 16. Every day more and more people are putting environmentalism into a sensible context. Ironically, we are on the verge of environmentalists destroying environmentalism. The challenge is for leadersip and calm so we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Environmentalist are close to crying wolf once too often and ignoring issues that require attention.
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