Perhaps it is unwise for me to criticize environmental groups at the moment, given that we are all trying to push a difficult issue forward at a time of considerable political hostility. Reagan’s 11th Commandment is a major reason why the Republicans are so strong in the United States. At the same time, it is disheartening to see people expending their useful energy on the wrong thing, when there is something they would care about a lot more available. Also, given that the environmental movement makes choices based on things that are still at the edge of scientific knowledge, there is a benefit in having public discussions, and making the strongest possible cases to one another. We should not assume ourselves to be infallible, but rather to be in a dialogue with an ever-emerging collection of complex information on how the climate operates.
All that said, I must confess that I am perplexed by how many environmental groups seem to focus their time. It might be a terrible thing that some ugly new development will replace a nice bit of woodland, but I think people need to consider the scale on which humanity is smashing nature. That little plot of forest is threatened along with a whole lot of other forests if catastrophic or runaway climate change occurs.
It reminds me of a person wandering in the middle of a battlefield, looking for their glasses. They realize one problem – that their glasses have been dropped – and they are working diligently at solving it by scrutinizing the ground. At the same time, bullets are flying all around them. They see the small problem, miss the big one, and focus their efforts in the wrong way as a consequence.
Climate change really is the over-riding environmental priority right now. If we warm up the planet five or six ˚C, it will ruin all conservation efforts that have been undertaken in the meanwhile. We need to solve climate change first – taking advantages of co-benefits where possible.
In any case, I think I can see the appeal of being a part of a group dedicated to saving the local bog. It has locavore chic. Also, the area might have a special importance to you personally. Finally, it has the benefit that even if your quest fails, the outcome isn’t so bad. Being part of something friendly and local is a lot more pleasant than confronting a terrifying spectre of global destruction. And yet, that seems to be what we are facing.