FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rethinking Environmentalism

A while back, we discussed how Christian evangelicals and others who traditionally opposed environmentalism were now supporting ecological policies. Now, in another "heretical" move, some environmentalists are changing their long-held stances on a number of issues.

Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, has written an article for the MIT Technology Review describing how environmentalists are revisiting -- and revising -- their positions with the changing times.

Take population, for instance. In the 1960s and 1970s, people spoke of the "population explosion," an exponential increase that would suck up resources, cause pollution and do other kinds of bad things. But now, the world's population is dropping, largely because of increased urbanization, which leads to greater independence for women and, ultimately, fewer births. Urbanization, therefore, is starting to be seen not as an oppressor but as a liberator.

Brand also cites biotechnology and even nuclear power as areas where some environmentalists are shifting from staunch opposition to cautious support. In the case of nuclear power, concern over the impact of fossil fuels on climate may trump the not-insignificant matter of radioactive waste disposal.

When and whether these positions will change among the environmentalist mainstream remains up for debate. But Brand's argument is that environmental positions are not -- and should not be -- treated as Gospel.

Source: Smart Mobs