General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Are there disputes within the environmentalist movement?

Asked by Ltryptophan (11649points) January 1st, 2022 from iPhone

We often hear “stop global warming” the battle cry of the environmentalists. Are these environmentalists a solid block, or is there a few strong divisions?

I know, it’s based on main stream scientists warning about environmental impact studies, what’s there to argue…

Maybe it’s the scope of the effort. With some lobbying for extreme efforts, and the others seeking realistic curbs on emmisions.

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16 Answers

product's avatar

@Ltryptophan: “We often hear “stop global warming” the battle cry of the environmentalists.”

No, we don’t. We heard the statement of fact that should have stopped anthropogenic climate change when we had the chance. Now, it’s really too late to stop most of the horrible changes that are about to come – even if we were to stop contributing this afternoon.

That said, we have to stop. Now. Otherwise it will far, far worse.

@Ltryptophan: “Are these environmentalists a solid block, or is there a few strong divisions?”

They’re not really “environmentalists”, unless you consider all of science, human rights advocates, entire countries, etc. There is no place on earth that is not currently feeling the very real effects of climate change. And there are very real implications to future change that is most definitely coming that will result in mass migration, water wars, increased “natural” disasters, etc.

It’s going to be ugly, and to refer to those who acknowledge this as “environmentalists” is itself a problematic framing.

@Ltryptophan: “Maybe it’s the scope of the effort. With some lobbying for extreme efforts, and the others seeking realistic curbs on emmisions.”

There is no “moderate” solution to this. Period. It’s “extreme” or nothing.

Six's avatar

Always and forever, within any movement.

BeeePollen's avatar

I think these are some of the major divisions within and between environmental movements when it comes to climate change:

1. Is climate change an immediate and important issue for us to solve?
On this there is very little division.

2. How much should we be asking people to give up in order to solve it? And who should give up what?
For example: Should we raise the gas tax? Is that fair? Should we constrain poor countries from increasing their use of hydrocarbons? Should the rich pay? Who counts as rich? How much community opposition should stop rich-country companies from setting up a lithium mine or a carbon sequestration project or a nuclear plant? In the US we talk about “creating green jobs.” Should these be really good jobs, or should they be not so good to make it cheaper to fight climate change? Should we make it more annoying to own a car? Less annoying to ride a bus?

3. Who should have control over humanity’s solutions to climate change?
For example: Should scientists mostly decide the plan, since they know best? Maybe it should be the people most directly affected by climate change? Maybe it should be the people best able to mitigate it (like people who live in the Sahara where there is a lot of solar potential)? Maybe we should abolish corporations, or the state, or the university, and have other institutions running this?

4. What technologies should be used to fight climate change?
For example: Should we use a lot of nuclear? What about the waste? Should we use a lot of geothermal? That might require fracking.

5. How does climate change relate to other political priorities?
For example: Maybe relatively more focus should go into adaptation than mitigation. Maybe other environmental priorities are more important. Maybe we can’t have serious climate policy without campaign finance reform, anticorruption legislation, or consolidation of democracy against imperialist powers. Maybe we can’t have those without improving voting rights or giving greater voice to indigenous people. Maybe we can’t do anything if we don’t get elected first, and that might require us to focus on boosting the stock market or starting a war or something. Maybe we need a revolution.

6. How do we get people to agree with us?
For example: Do we want to work with business? Do we want to try to get elected and make change from within the government? Do we want to break the law?

Smashley's avatar

Of course, and they are important as we figure this out. A movement that isn’t reflective or self critical is doomed to repeat old mistakes. Problems are easy to agree on, but solutions aren’t.

Remember when “save the planet” meant “end nuclear power”? What a terrific own goal and waste of political capital. We must employ the right solutions to solve our problems.

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jca2's avatar

There are disputes within any movement or organization. Disputes and struggles for power, debates and bickering about decisions made, directions the group should go in, etc.

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Kraigmo's avatar

Hell yes there are disputes.
Sierra Club no longer admits the planet is overpopulated.
And for liberal political reasons, they actually now condemn anyone who says the planet is overpopulated.
But the planet is beyond overpopulated and it’s the #1 threat to civilization as well as Nature, aside from conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists.

Smashley's avatar

“Liberal political reasons”

The narrative that overpopulation is the problem is at best a western-centric finger wagging and othering of the developing world, and at worst it’s a racist canard that enables the worst excesses. The fact is that as wealth goes up, birth rates eventually stsrt to decline, but energy consumption skyrockets to levels dwarfing all other factors. The much larger problem is how much the developed world uses and pollutes.

capet's avatar

I sort of agree with both of you (mostly @Smashley but a little bit with @Kraigmo).

The number of people on Earth does make it hard to make our society sustainable for ourselves and just towards the other creatures of the planet. Unfortunately, beyond making family planning accessible, we haven’t figured out any way of addressing that problem that doesn’t make other problems much worse (see the entire history of Planet Earth, including forced sterilizations, the one-child policy, the El Paso shooter, etc).

We have also found that other strategies (like Smashley’s implicit strategies of reducing the ecological footprint of the well-off and of helping the poor become more well-off) do work, much better than population control, and with fewer negative side effects. (I would also note this: I think I read somewhere that, in general, once people move from dirt-poor to moderately okay, their ecological footprint actually shrinks up to a certain point, because they gain access to things like more efficient fuels.)

I think the Sierra Club figured this out and decided that the best policy was to shut up. It’s a shame, but I endorse that policy.

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