It’s 2018 and what the environmental movement needs now more than ever is resilience.
As we have seen from across the political spectrum, it’s time to learn a lesson from our opponents and stop playing the moral upper hand. It may make us feel like what we are doing is right, but it doesn’t win the battle.
Too often people who are inclined to care about the environment back down because they encounter opposition and resistance. Quite likely, it is something they didn’t see coming. For a person who has discovered a reason to be concerned about the environment, whether it be from a news story, an experience in nature, their education, or the horrific images that expose the reality of the human impact on the environment, it may come as a shock that not only do people not share their concern, but people may actually scorn them for showing that concern. Attacking people who care about the world is dirty business, but it is very effective at eliminating those voices from the conversation. It’s effective and it is a strategy that is advocated by the opposition to the environmental movement. Those who are newly initiated to environmental concern are likely surprised when they collide with that brick wall of opposition. It often manifests itself as an attack. It is designed to beat you down.
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold is easily one of the most influential environmental texts. You will surely read about it in your intro environmental science course. I somehow made it to professorhood before I had actually turned the page.
Is it worth the read?
“Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.”
~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
It’s hard to be an optimist when you work with environmental issues. That’s the story line that I hear anyway. It became the basis of such a common question in my environmental science courses – ‘how can you teach this course and not be completely depressed?’ students would ask – that I began to interject empowerment clauses throughout the semester to stop students from becoming despondent. My final lecture is now a discourse on optimism and possibility and is probably the antithesis of anything you might expect by way of concluding a semester spent groveling in the wastewater of civilization.
There are two separate majors that can prepare you for environmentally-oriented careers: environmental science and environmental studies. In the midst of all of the other confusion you are bound to feel as you try to determine what to do with your life, this is an unwelcome addition. Let’s sort it out.
Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring as she was battling cancer. It would become a seminal book on humanity’s misguided propensity to undermine its own well-being through the widespread use of chemical poisons. It would also become recognized as the starting point of the modern environmental movement. It’s no small irony that I had never read it despite having introduced it to countless audiences of introductory environmental science students.
This documentary touches on a variety of topics, though I found the treatment of Brazil’s biofuel program to be particularly worthwhile.
Available on Netflix beginning this Friday, the 14th. I’m looking forward to it.