Here in California, a little environmentalism goes a long way. Our state quarter shows John Muir, founder fo the Sierra Club, standing in Yosemite Valley. We pay more for gasoline than residents of other states, not just because we want cleaner-burning fuels, but because regulations make impossible the expansion or building of refineries. Julia Butterfly makes news, as does the Earth Liberation Front (I saw their work on a vandalized SUV just yesterday).
Environmental education is built into California's education code. Sections 8700-8707 outline the Legislature's intent in very broad terms. Key phrases that jump out at me are:
1) Section 8700: "provide students with educational materials that are balanced and objective in their coverage"
2) Section 8702: "build necessary attitudes of stewardship"
3) Section 8705: "conservaton education...that will help each student develop a healthy attitude of personal responsibility toward his environment"
I can live with these. They seem entirely reasonable.
There are, however, two P words--politics and propaganda--that take environmentalism to absurd extremes. Al Gore's book Earth In The Balance was discussed in the 1992 election, and the movie The Day After Tomorrow was touted in the 2004 election season. It doesn't matter that Republican President Lincoln freed the slaves, that Republican President Eisenhower sent federal soldiers to Central High in Little Rock, or that Republican President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency; everyone knows that Republicans are racists and hate the environment. President Bush's Clean Skies Initiative is derided and his rejection of the Kyoto Protocols assailed.
National defense is a Republican issue and the environment is a Democrat issue. Environmentalism is now so politicized as to make true progress next to impossible. The issue is so important that some middle ground must be found. But we can't find that middle ground unless we hear from the other side of the debate.
By "the other side" I don't mean major polluters and despoilers. No, I mean we must hear from rational environmentalists who view problems and solutions through the lens of science and not shrill emotionalism. Over the course of my next couple posts I'll introduce you to two such men: Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, and Bjorn Lomborg, a self-described liberal vegetarian Danish academic.
I hope you'll find these men, and the posts about them, interesting.