What are we fighting for? Why?
In Communicating Nature (Corbett, 2006) pp. 26–37, a spectrum of environmental ideologies was discussed. It came to my attention that the people in this field theorize that everyone falls along a side of this spectrum in some way. I would assume that most everyone in the Western world goes through the beginning of their life with an anthropocentric view of environmentalism (if there is even such a thing as anthropocentric environmentalism…seems like a bit of an oxymoron doesn’t it?). About a third of the entire human population follows Christianity, and on account of the fact that they believe that they were created in God’s image and that nature was created for humanity’s use, most people struggle to think of a society in which their needs are not immediately met- whether that’s a McChicken on the way home from work or the overpriced gas they pump in their cars to drive to McDonald’s.
I think that it is hard to unlearn this idea that humans are superior to “nature” (their environment, the birds, the land, the trees, all of the little insignificant species that are disappearing in the Amazon every day…etc) because I myself find it hard to do. I am pursuing a field that people not so affectionately call a “recycling major” and quite literally guffaw when I mention environmental racism (what will the hippies think of next?). I did not grow up in tune with my environment in a way that would lead me to pursue the admirable study of ‘saving the world”- instead I grew up in a suburban hell that in my opinion, deprived me of an intimate relationship with “my” nature- the desert.
I look at our spectrum and I don’t entirely find myself swimming in an ecocentric morality (Think PETA). Though I am inundated with the facts that climate change is real, single-use plastics are terrible, and eating meat kills the earth- I still am finding it hard to completely omit burgers and other modern conveniences that I am cognizantly aware directly or indirectly harm this little blue ball we call home. Like Xenon, I’m a girl of the 21st century and though I’m not wearing pigtails and neon bodysuits, I do like my technology and cheap Walmart fashion. (Sue me)
I like the idea of substituting traditional methods of energy-production with eco-friendly types on account of it simply being the most economical and sustainable way to do things. A conservative environmentalism would argue that we need to put a leash on unrestrained resource use so that in the future we could continue to exploit the planet for capital. Recently a “Green Tea” party in Georgia has been getting behind solar power by voting to expand it. Though to me investing in solar power seems like common sense, republicans coming together to support this initiative is truly revolutionary. In their own words, it “gives consumers more choice”-which in America, how could we not? Check out the article here.
Though changing our behaviors has been shown by countless studies in the environmentalism field to be one of the hardest things to do, doing so in an effort to reflect our beliefs is one of the most important things we can do. A recent TED talk by Van Jones pointed out how by supporting environmentalism we are also supporting social justice movements. Because the poorest, most disenfranchised people more often than not are living in superfund sites and uranium mining lands, there appears to be a pattern of how our society treats the poor, the black, and Native Americans. In From the Ground Up (Cole & Foster, 2001) pp. 19–33, it was pointed out that through grassroots activism, the most disenfranchised people were doing something about the PCB dumps in their backyards as well as the civil rights injustices that were happening to them every day. From the Ground Up points out how it was civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther KIng who participated in these grassroots movements through their religious mediums- uniting people who were similarly upset by the environmental degradation of their communities as well as the racist way their country functioned.
We all take part in environmental activism in some way- some doing so out of pure necessity- to fight the power that may have racist undertones- or because we want to conserve the fish in the river so that next year we may continue to go fishing. Our backgrounds, religions, expectations, and comfort are all considered when we decide to choose behaviors that may or may not lead us towards an ecocentric morality. As for me, I’m still figuring it out I think… I want to continue to learn more about our resource usage because it wasn’t until recently in my life I had an “awakening” where I realized that not only did I love “nature”-ie being outside, investigating microbiota, or eating pine needles- but that I also found this field to be of particular interest to me because it incorporates a myriad of issues that encompasses social justice- which I have been fighting for my entire life. (849)