Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Don't despair

I was touched by Monbiot's latest post. I've only been interested in the environment for a recent period of time but in that time, I've been able to read about and get a sense for the despair of the environmental movement. I remember an article published by the Ecologist a few months ago about an environmentalist who'd finally reached the end of his tether, this seemed to be an article also reflecting the writers of the Ecologist magazine's stance. That was touching too. Being an environmentalist is a combination of irresistible optimism and fighter spirit. Invariably, it is challenged by the grim reality: on one side there are the interests bankrolled by consumers full of cash and causing massive environmental havoc, on the other, there are the democrats and social activists, those who seek to weigh on government decisions and make a difference in society. The voice and will of the people sometimes looks like a weak counter weight to powerful economic interests especially when the fate of these economic interests is interlinked with the fate of the voice and will of the people.

Paulo Coelho once said in the Alchemist that when you really want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Every billionaire intuitively knows that and so does every activist. Paulo Coelho also said that every search begins with beginner's luck and ends with the victor's being severely tested. So I thought I'd write something to cheer myself up and other people who's energies have been severely tested.

The energy we put in fighting and defending the planet doesn't come from our training or knowledge. It is a leftover from the energy of our youth. Emotions in child, teenage and early adult life are much stronger than they are in adult life. They're like a ship's rudder that guides us through our lives as adults.

I think that every new generation is an opportunity for a new beginning, they are the carriers of change. So whilst things might look grim with the current generation, imagine what they would look like if every new adult realized that they could be agents of change, if that was inbuilt in the culture. Only in the last 5 years has environmental culture gone mainstream but it is still in its infancy. It is maturing but not yet in full swing. Technology may be a burden to the environment but it is a friend of culture. When the media, internet and other tools we have take up the environmental agenda fully as they are already doing in some countries, change will occur at a much faster rate. We may be running out of time, but the culture is catching up.

If corporations can cause damage on a massive scale in a relatively short period of time, restoration should also be able to occur in a relatively short period of time. As environmentalists, we have to be patient despite the fact we have no time left. Being an environmentalist in these times is a matter of faith. The fact that no one can see God or have proof of it hasn't stopped billions of people from believing in it or believing in miracles. This faith was built over centuries with missionaries. It was subjective and difficult to believe in. Environmental faith on the other hand is objective and scientific. It's main obstacle is human psychology. There are a host of interests, behavioral and psychological biases that stand in the way of our ability to appreciate the full magnitude of the catastrophic situation we are in. But I don't see why these obstacles shouldn't be eventually overcome and vanquished.

We need faith in the problem: us. We are a magnificent species endowed with wonderful qualities but like the rest of nature, we are yin and yang. We have imagination, we have number power, we have intelligence, we have advanced technology, we have creativity, we have the ability to influence and mold our world. We have will power. What was once the privilege of God, the ability to destroy the Planet is now in our hands and we need the wisdom and determination to change our fate.

It may seem impossible to overcome the problems we face but environmentalists should brace themselves for a surprise. What has happened in a short time, in a fast paced world can be undone in an even shorter period of time. Hope and faith is what we need however irrational these emotions and values may seem to a scientifically minded movement.

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