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Who is who in the environmentalist zoo July 11, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Environment, Life, News, Politics, rant, Society, Sustainable Living.

I wrote this (slightly edited) for the last issue of Obrigado (I know, beneath this radical mask I am just another corporate slut):

Gone are the days when the term “environmentalist” was synonymous with Richard Attenborough whispering sweet nothings into his mic while stalking a herd of Thompson’s Gazelle across the plains of the Serengeti. Today everyone with the social conscience of an eight-year can be an environmentalist of some sort. In fact, environmentalism has flourished recently, evolving into a species-rich fauna that provides an ecological niche for every high school debating team leader, politician, marketing guru, taxi driver, Jane Deer and John Doe. If you’re not quite sure where to place yourself on the spectrum of green consciousness, take a leaf from one of these eco-profiles.

The hardcore eco-warrior

You understand that although individual environmentally friendly lifestyle choices are laudable, the underlying problem is the “system” itself. Human evolution took a wrong turn some 5000 years ago with the birth of agriculture and permanent settlements. Your guiding motto is: “The only sustainable level of technology is the stone age”.

You do not equate property destruction with violence, particularly if said property is owned by large oil, biotech, forestry or pharmaceutical corporations. You are wanted in several countries for spiking trees in old-growth forests and torching a few SUV dealerships and the odd ski resort.

You fantasise about blowing up dams and setting rivers free around the world and the imminent crash of civilisation that will follow. You have proudly embraced the descriptor “luddite”.

Your favourite movies are Twelve Monkeys and Fight Club, your favourite books are “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey, “Ecotopia” by Ernest Callenbach and Derrick Jensen’s Endgame.

You survive by dumpster-diving for day-old bagels behind supermarkets and other self-taught hunter-gatherer techniques.

Your favourite websites include www.animalliberationfront.com, www.earthfirst.org and www.inthewake.org.

You represent the outer fringes of the radical left wing of the progressive environmental movement, but are one hundred per cent convinced that you are right and will succeed.

The earnest tree-hugger

You know that greedy multi-national corporations in cahoots with the World Bank, Fox News and all manner of corruptible politicians are ruining our environment. You are passionate about grassroots politics and know that a disciplined programme of peaceful protest action and petition writing will eventually convince your democratically elected representatives of their errant ways.

You think that BP re-inventing themselves as “Beyond Petroleum” shows that even the worst environmental villains can be rehabilitated.

Your motto is “People and planet before profit (within the constraints of a free-market economy)”.

You use bio-degradable toothpaste, eat organic strawberries imported from Israel all year round and wear vegan shoes made from petroleum by-products by nine-year old Chinese girls. You believe in the power of crystals and are convinced that individuals can make a difference in this world one baby-step at a time.

Your most sustainable celebrities are Daryl Hannah, Willie Nelson (biodiesel pioneers both), Cameron Diaz and any other movie star who owns a Toyota Prius (as well as a Humvee, a limo, a Lear jet and one or two helicopters). Oh, yes, and Bono, of course.

You are mortified by genetic engineering, nanotechnology and dioxins and you wear a commemorative Greenpeace Vial of Eternal Remembrance and PenitanceTM filled with contaminated Chernobyl soil around your ankle. You dream of life in a self-sufficient off-grid ecovillage with its own egalitarian barter exchange system and have seriously considered home schooling your children.

Your favourite films are Erin Brockovich and An Inconvenient Truth and your favourite film star, politician and environmental idol is Al Gore.

Your favourite book is “Heat – How to stop the planet burning” by George Monbiot and your favourite websites are www.treehugger.com, www.biowillie.com and www.draftgore.com.

The enviro-opportunist

Although you’re somewhat hazy on the details, the ideas of ethical consumerism and carbon trading excite you, because you believe that there is no problem we can’t shop ourselves out of.

You’re an “atmosphere-half-empty-of-carbon-dioxide” kind of person.

You dream of starting your own luxury eco-tourism company that will take green travellers to our planet’s last Edens, as yet unspoilt by civilisation, such as central Antarctica, the deepest jungles of Borneo, the bottom of the Pacific and certain parts of the American mid-west.

You are pro-atomic power because the nuclear industry has created thousands of jobs while producing clean and virtually free electricity for millions of people. The 56 Ukrainians who died at Chernobyl seem an acceptable price to pay for all of that.

BP’s re-branding exercise was a stroke of marketing genius that will surely be reflected in the company’s stock value for decades to come.

Your favourite environmental movie is Happy Feet and the most prominent member of your ranks is George W. Bush (in public).

The eternal denialist

A good and honest look at the available scientific data will convince anyone who is genuinely interested that “global warming” is not actually happening. If it was happening, it wouldn’t be our fault in any case. Worldwide climate changes are natural phenomena that have been happening for millions of years. You have it on good authority that a single, half-decent volcanic eruption produces more greenhouse gases than all of humanity in a century.

“Global warming” is, in fact, an enormous conspiracy perpetrated by pinko-commie lobbyists in Brussels, Al Gore and sell-out oil companies who are trying to improve their public image on the advice of new age image consultants. You believe that green is the new red and fully support a revival of McCarthyism for the 21st century.

If global warming was really happening, there would be nothing we could do about it at this stage anyway. We should burn as much oil and coal as possible before the Chinese and Indians get their hands on them. You would consider it a positive side effect of “climate change” if “global warming” was to flood the world’s low-lying coastal cities like Rio, Amsterdam, New Orleans and Cape Town – godless dens of iniquity that they are.

Your favourite eco-movie is The Great Global Warming Swindle and you are currently reading Bjorn Lomborg’s “The Sceptical Environmentalist”.

The techno-fix planet saviour

You are a scientist, an engineer or at the very least a Popular Mechanics reader and no longer get upset when people call you a “mad professor”.

To you, there is no insurmountable ecological crisis. Humanity is merely faced with the challenge of ascending to the next logical step in its evolutionary development from homo sapiens to homo technologicus.

Your guiding motto is “There is always a new wonder technology in the pipeline that can fix the unforeseen and unpredictable disasters created by the last wonder technology”.

You believe that giant sunlight-reflecting space mirrors and commercial-scale nuclear fusion will become a reality in the next ten to fifteen years, spelling an end to all our current energy and environmental woes.

You know that all human progress, including conquering global warming, is premised on science. All that is required for your monumental ideas to save the world is for governments to throw enough taxpayers’ money at the problem.

Anyone who believes that renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power can ever do the job is an unscientific dirty hippie luddite in need of a serious reality-check.

You don’t have time to go to the movies or read books, but have heard good things about Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, particularly his detailed depiction of terra-forming technology and space elevators.

The eco-ignoramus

Your idea of communing with nature involves magic mushrooms at Vortex in some mielie field in the middle of nowhere and the annual Rich Kid’s Farm Party at your No.1 Bhangra club.

What’s all the fuss about? There are more important things to worry about than a habitable planet. Like whether or not Kimi Raikkonen has got what it takes to win the first post-Schumi F1 championship and whether or not Wentworth Miller has got what it takes to make the transition from TV to the big screen.

Besides, global warming sounds like a good thing to you – you much prefer summer to winter and would consider spending more time in places like London and Berlin if climate change helped with the local weather.

You think Peak Oil is the latest trend in chemical peel treatments.

Your favourite book is Heat magazine and your best environmental programme on the telly is Survivor Panama.

You are comforted by the fact that millions around the globe share your opinions on green issues, including celebrities such as Homer Simpson and George W. Bush (in private).


1. Jackie - July 15, 2007

Interesting post. I hope I fall under earnest tree-hugger although every now and then wish I could be an eco-warrior LOL

2. Andreas - July 16, 2007

I think most people are probably some sort of composite of two or even three of these rather artificial classifications at various times…

3. Audrey - September 5, 2007

This is brilliant 🙂
I grinned for the first time in ages. In my dreams I am definitely a hardcore warrior but in reality I’m just a feeble worrier.

Been trying to comment on your blog since I discovered it yesterday… this time lucky maybe? Thanks for this site, it’s a rare find and I’ll be a regular for sure.

– Audrey

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