Most of us find it easier to imagine a world without pine martens, honeybees, otters and wolves than one without social media, lattes, cheap flights and dishwashers. Even environmentalism, which was once motivated by a love of the natural world, now seems more concerned with finding slightly less destructive ways of enabling an overprivileged civilisation to carry on surfing the internet and buying laptops and yoga mats than it does with protecting wildlife from its ravenous jaws.
|‘Do I need to check Twitter and Facebook every day, and |
do I need to take a selfie of myself at dinner, and why?’
All the talk these days is about carbon and something obscure called “sustainability”. There’s much less talk about the kind of human-scale cultures we might want to foster, or why we would even want to help sustain a culture that requires the ransacking of every square centimetre of soil, forest, ocean, river and wilderness to survive. In its understandably pragmatic, green-lite approach to reducing emissions, it lost both its vision and its soul, forgetting that a movement without either is hardly pragmatic.
As Paul Kingsnorth notes in his remarkable new collection of essays, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, environmentalism has reduced itself to being “the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy”. Kingsnorth remarks that it is now, in broad terms, focusing its efforts on “sustaining human civilisation at the comfort level that the world’s rich – us – feel is their right, without destroying the ‘natural capital’ needed to do so”.
Read Mark Boyle’s story on The Guardian - “Environmentalism used to be about defending the wild – not any more.”