Sunday, March 4, 2007

Schisms in Environmentalism, Part I

By: Vanessa Uy

As Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” gained blockbuster status, how relevant are environmental issues to today’s generation?

In the lazy afternoon of November 21,2006. After viewing the latest “James Bond” flick in our local mall. Greenpeace was opening a booth to recruit new members for their cause, or was it one of their to –let –the –people-know-we-exist campaigns. I’m one of those who always has a mystical view on how Greenpeace’s methods on solving environmental challenges. One of their representatives was entertaining me and my rifle instructor and we came out of the experience somewhat disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all into safeguarding our environment for future generations. But the nice young man’s utter lack of working knowledge of the human condition nurtured a worm of doubt about the legitimacy and future of this prestigious environmental movement. Since it is us humans that’s been fouling our planet, one must be a good student of the human condition. Studying Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, Sun Tsu’s “The Art of War”, and Friedrich Nietzsche’s “The Will To Power” would be a good start.

Most of what I learned from Greenpeace comes from my rifle instructor’s forays into the politics of the 1980’s. One incident that propelled Greenpeace to worldwide fame or notoriety was their protest against the French government’s testing of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific Island atoll of Muroroa. At this time, Greenpeace gained the sympathy of every eco-responsible person on earth when French secret agents allegedly sank “Rainbow Warrior” the venerable ship used by Greenpeace to gather evidence on the cruelty of industrial whaling. In the succeeding years, Greenpeace campaigned for the “responsible consumer” which means that ordinary people have the right to boycott products of corporations who don’t run their plants in an environmentally responsible manner.

Here in our country, Greenpeace got the “Think globally act locally” dictum of environmentalism right by protesting against several strip mining concerns that are ecological disasters waiting to happen. They should remember that as “these problems” are caused by us, their suggested solutions should mesh seamlessly with our day to day lives. Here is where a good working knowledge of the human condition comes into play. Like the characters in Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, when someone’s in a position of power he or she can impose their will with legitimacy. And politicians are no more than distinguished beggars. This idea is no different from the ones extolled by Sun Tsu or Friedrich Nietzsche. Enlightened self-interest works no matter how you put it. Just like in the movie “Wall Street” when Michael Douglas’ character elaborated on the goodness of greed. If Greenpeace has the acumen to convince the corporate world that a pristine environment or ecosystem has value like precious metals, crude oil, and real estate, then they would have achieved their raison d’être.

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