Monday, March 31, 2008

Green Grumbles

I am having increasing problems calling myself an environmentalist. It is not that I don't believe in fighting climate change and saving our planet. My opinion on that hasn't changed. However, I am increasingly distressed by the rhetoric and tactics employed by what should be my side of the debate. It is not now, nor will it ever be, appropriate to call someone a "climate change denier". While there is not anything technically wrong with the term, the implication is reprehensible. I compare it to calling Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama. Yes, technically they are denying that climate change is a reality, and yes, technically his middle name is Hussein. However, the implications of both of those statements are morally wrong. It is wrong to compare climate change to the Holocaust. It is wrong to use a man's name to spread Islamophobia.

I also disagree with the simplification that the fight against climate change can only be successfully waged with certain EU certified tools. Kyoto is a horrible treaty. It will and has made the problem worse. The European Union has done a lot right in fighting climate change. However, most of their "results" are a combination of good carbon luck (the collapse of the Eastern Bloc; temperate climate that doesn't require air conditioning) and coincidence (Margaret Thatcher's war on the coal miners leading to less coal use in Britain). We should not and frankly cannot use the European model here or in the developing world. Yes, we need action on climate change and yes, we need it yesterday. However, this does not justify making hasty and foolish decision. There is always time for good policy.

Finally, as I've been posting this weekend, I am tired of stunts in lieu of real action. Having 100,000 out of over 33,000,000 people turn off their lights for one hour is not a success. If you want to raise awareness, get involved in politics. Write your local representative. Talk to your friends and neighbours. Stunts don't work and they give people a false sense of success. This is a serious issue and its about time we dealt with it seriously. The foot soldiers in the environmental movement are used to being a fringe movement. Frankly, they've employed fringe tactics. We need to convince people this is a little more important than an endangered bird or 'killer' fur (not that I'm opposed to either of those causes). We need to employ the same kind of boring and studious approach we take to tax and fiscal policy. We need to have an honest debate about how to proceed. We need to stop worrying about making the cause cool and spend more time fixing the problem.

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