As you know, I attend writing groups that Nerissa Nields leads. On Wednesday she read a prompt that included a Paul Ehrlich quote to the effect that ecology is the subversive science. As soon as I heard that, my mind filled with complicating thoughts.
In 1970 I was a junior in high school and I attended the first Earth Day. My thoughts about the ecology movement or environmentalism as we call it more recently have not really changed in that time. The problem I have always had with the ecology movement is that it is by and large not a political one.
Much of the burden of fixing the planet or not damaging the planet any further falls, as is always the case in America, on individuals. Be a better recycler, compost, don’t use plastic bags, don’t buy disposable water bottles. These are all things that individuals are supposed to be responsible for and supposed to do to be a good citizen. I do these things and have for years but I am not sure it makes any difference.
Where is the part where the government does something? What is the role of the government? Once you start asking that question you get to politics. Until there is a political will to change how the country consumes fossil fuels, to direct people away from eating meat and towards vegetarianism or veganism by what appears in the grocery stores, we really won’t get through ecological change or repair.
The issue becomes even more complicated because of the intransigence of the current Republican Party. For over 30 years Republicans have tried to wish away environmental change, have denied global warming. In the current Trump Republican Party, they don’t even believe in evolution and really don’t understand how a woman conceives a baby so why are they going to do anything about climate change? To get true environmental change, we must confront power.