[readers, this is a post started two months ago that I may never complete but that starts a bunch of interesting thoughts. And what is this blog, if not a catalyst for reflection? So I present to you, for the first time though likely not the last, an incomplete blog entry on motives and agendas:]
the so-called "environmental debate" has some pretty fanatical devotees on both sides. I was recently directed to http://www.noteviljustwrong.com, which [...incomplete]
...critical thinking is key, then. We must always always ask, who stands to gain from this point of view? Of what benefit is it to the involved party to espouse such a radical stance?
...noteviljustwrong has an entire movie that I have yet to watch, but their opening page asserts that "the World Health Organization lifted its ban on DDT in 2006, but Al Gore and his allies will not accept that verdict any more than they will accept the science that discounts theories about global warming. They are determined to blame humans for everything." So I looked it up. And indeed, here is the WHO press release:
...which is amazing. That said, the Neo-cons seem to put no faith in the relative authority of the UN or the Nobel Prize (to say nothing of their utter disdain for government), so it's funny to say in one breath that government can't be trusted and then turn around and use governmental edicts as evidence for your argument. Can't have it both ways, I don't think.
But this leads me to question, or at least admit, my own motives: why am I so interested in trying to preserve the environment?
1) First and foremost, I am concerned for the future of my own family, of my child (or possibly children, at some point). I want the beautiful world around me to exist and not be deteriorating and falling apart for my daughter when she grows up, and for her own family.
2) As well, ages ago I concluded that suffering is a result of the actions of humankind, so that my actions (yes, good or bad) can have an effect on *your* life, and on the lives of countless people I will never even meet (see http://btbowen.blogspot.com/2007/10/restating-case.html). So for example, cancers and other environmentally-caused sickness are to some degree the result of the poisons we as a species are spewing into our biosphere. God isn't to blame for suffering; *we* are, and so I want to try to diminish my responsibility, such as I can, for the suffering of others. In a similar way, if I buy new clothes from a company that uses sweatshops (e.g. watch the documentary "China Blue"), I'm contributing to the suffering of unknown numbers of people who live in deplorable conditions. So I try always to buy my clothes second-hand: it's not a perfect solution, but it's a good step, I think, and it's within my financial means.
3) In a backwards kind of way, I suppose my motivation could be financial, maybe. I find that being "environmentally conscious" does help save money, and that's useful for our family at this juncture. As well, I occasionally think about going into journalism, so doing all this writing is both good practice and also potentially good for my portfolio. That said, I don't make money from the blog and it does take hours and hours of work.
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4) 09.12.09 - it's two months later and I'm still mulling over this motivation problem. Why are climate deniers really so very interested in "disproving" climate change? Do they think we'll be blown back to the dark ages? Do they resent not feeling like they really have any choices left, or do they feel like they're being told what to do? I, for my part, have begun to conclude that maybe my own interest in the environmental causes stems from the fact that I feel like a bit of a black sheep: I don't totally feel like I fit in, even now, in society as it has been erected, and so maybe my underlying motivation for championing environmental causes is that I think maybe I'd feel more comfortable - like I'd finally found "home" - in those self-same dark ages. Do I eschew technology? I do not. Do I constantly wish that i were doing something other than watching TV or checking my email, and that the people around me didn't buy into a culture I find so repulsive? yes. Our western culture makes me uneasy at best and terrified and nauseated at worst.
...so it seems to me that maybe the battle over the validity of the environmental argument is a battle of identity: namely, that each of us self-identifies either as being successful by society's standards, and therefore welcomed, or a loser, and therefore shunned. What's at stake when we dig down under the threat to our lifestyles that the environmental movement could be, is in fact the very sense of who we are, which has taken us our lifetime to construct.
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So what does noteviljustwrong stand to gain? Well, for one thing, they have a big retail section (http://www.noteviljustwrong.com/shop). But - and I think this is the real underlying motivation - noteviljustwrong really represents a particular way of life and standard of living, and a resistance to being forced to change. And that's fair enough, really. But I think the thing they're missing is that no one (and here I'm talking about North Americans, and still only generally) really *wants* to make massive changes to the way they live. Environmentalists, though, I think understand that either we can change now of our own free will, or we can be forced to change when the conditions on the planet make the status quo impossible.
Noteviljustwrong's opening pseudo-manifesto includes the phrase "They are determined to blame humans for everything." Putting aside a discussion of whether or not humans are in fact to blame for everything, this assertion is defensive. It suggests that they feel they are not beng treated fairly, and that their [...and here the entry stopped back in October, when I saved it to my desktop and vowed to come back to it].