People have come a long way when it comes to relating to nature and seeking to preserve it. Special thanks to Teddy Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson for sticking to their guns on that front.
But it is important to note where we’ve been, where we are, and where we should be heading because right now environmentalism is kind of hitting a road block and doesn’t quite seem to know where to go.
#1 Change with PSA’s
Back in the 90’s when non-profits were really being brought to light publically on television screens, there was an instinct to focus on sympathy and playing to people’s emotions to get them to donate. A lot of those commercials were a zooming in of puppies behind cages and little kids from foreign countries sitting in mud. And it worked. People felt guilty and donated. But then time went on and people started getting resentful. There’s this instinctive reaction that kicks in like, “Why is this my fault? Why do I have to do something about this?” And people become numb and distant towards that kind of emotional manipulation.
So inevitably things shifted. The non-profits that still maintain that approach are left in the dust. Environmentalism has almost always taken a different approach –and that approach ramped up in the 2000’s. Because most environmentalists are scientists, their approach has been to present DATA and FACT. They clarify the patterns and the global activity with nature and can then attempt to predict the implications of continued neglect or abuse of those same places.
So documentaries and infographics have paved the way for understanding to be shared and extended to people outside of the scientific/environmentalist community. And sure enough, it worked. People are far more cognizant and mindful of what’s going on with various issues related to climate change, oceans, animals… And very few people are left to convince about any of it.
As was always going to be the case there would inevitably be a few people stuck to the bottom of the barrel. It would be impossible to assume EVERYONE on the planet would be in agreeance and on the same page about nature and the issues related to it. After-all some of those people are KKK members. You think members of the KKK that think black people should be enslaved give a damn about the environment? They’re advocates for human enslavement. I doubt ISIS cares about what’s going on with melting ice caps. You were always going to have some people that either wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t understand, or wouldn’t care.
But right now it seems like environmentalists are still trying to convince people. They’ve got 80% of developed countries on the same page and backing their play, but they’re still trying to convince those few remaining politicians that say gays should be stoned to death to acknowledge climate change exists. It’s time to move on. They have enough people on board to press forward and leave those in ignorance behind.
Their primary focus now should not only fact-based acknowledgements of what’s occurring, but the next step and harder question of: What do we do about it as an entire people? Because asking the common layperson to recycle isn’t going to cut it anymore. More can and should be asked of people. There are greater strides that can be taken now if for no other reason than everyone acknowledges it’s deeply needed.
There’s a time to spread the word and a time to act on it –we’re entering the time of action in general. Time to bring these seeds to fruition.
#2 The Complexity of Nature
As I’ve recently discovered with the issue of Poverty, nature has always been a complex, inter-connected issue. You try focusing on one aspect of nature as some people do, but it never works. Take the Ocean. You have dead zones, oil spills, corral bleaching, shark finning, a depletion of animals for “food” in general, entire ecosystems disappearing, hurricanes… Just that one singular issue is packed full of subcategories of issues.
Then there’s the knowing that the ocean doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Hurricanes create flooding which kills and devastates the lives of people and animals and lands. Then there’s the pollution that washes ashore and contaminates the water systems affiliated with lands. Then there’s the fact that people at food from the sea, and they’re discovering more and more that those animals are contaminated with toxins that then poison people. It all washes ashore.
Next to every environmentalist issues you could singularly focus on is connected to at least 5 other ones if not more. A HOLISTIC approach is needed. You can’t sever and divide up nature into bite sized pieces because you like protecting endangered species but could care less about deforestation. It’s like saying you’re a humanitarian but not caring about the homeless or victims of human trafficking–only children with cancer.
#3 The Greed of Mankind
One of the biggest underlying issues with the problems nature is contending with is actually Mankind. Because you can make it abundantly clear to people that destroying natural resources for profit is an issue, but if it comes at any expense of inconvenience to people they will utterly ignore it –especially the “people” known as Corporations. Whatever cuts costs. I imagine the bald eagle would be dead and long gone, even by those who claim patriotism, if it was deemed inconvenient for them to exist. If people couldn’t eat hot dogs because the way they were made led to the destruction of the eagles’ native habitat… those birds would be GONE.
Up until now, people have never had to hold themselves accountable for their actions towards nature. Even animal abuse wasn’t considered a crime until recent times. Kill the lion. Hunt the elephant. Skin the cat alive.
Now for the first time that incompetence has reached a global scale and for the first time people are seeing that devastation enacted on grand scale –in part due to technology and advanced machinery. In Henry the 8th’s time, he could go out on a hunting excursion with his many staff members and servants and kill 400 deer in one session. In spite of how large that number was, globally it seems small. But when EVERYONE can do as they please and many kill extensively in great numbers for profit, what is left at the end of the day?
Convincing people not just to care about the environment and the impact they have on it -but the greater task of having people hold themselves Accountable seems like an uphill battle. I pray to God we win.
This planet is like a body. And right now this body has been diagnosed with cancer, Alzheimer’s, liver disease, cholera, and malaria. And like a body trying to fight off an infection there are extreme symptoms arising like mud slides, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. This body is out of whack. It’s succumbing to the pains being plagued upon it.
My suspicion is that just like it has been with everything, mankind will procrastinate until things get That Bad. Eventually everything can be corrected and returned to a state of balance, but it will take the cost of many lives –and more likely the cost of living expenses –before it really hits people how important an issue this is.
And things like the government blatantly trying to erase these issues doesn't help: