Sunday, February 11, 2007

A winning environment

After a disappointing disappearance last year, The Filter is back with a new collection of underreported progressive articles including this one on practical tips for the environmental movement from Wayne Roberts:
Make no mistake, we have what it takes to do the turnaround in time for the first Kyoto deadline of 2010. We just need our enviro champions to be strategic. Here's my short list of movement to-dos and to-don'ts:

1. Don't bite off more than you can chew, as we did during (the '80s and '90s) by taking on entrenched interests that can swat head-on assaults like mosquitoes. I'm thinking here of campaigns like that against PVCs or persistent organic pollutants, both of which I championed back then. There's wisdom in separating immediate deliverables from tomorrow's issues...

2. We need quick starts and a steady accumulation of victories. There may be lots of green talk these days, but...actual doables are scarce on any politicians or lobby group's radar...

3. The general point is to embed eco habits in the economy of daily life, rather than protecting green by isolating or regulating it. In earlier eco movements, for example, pols made a big deal of protecting parks and wildlife areas and then proceeded to allow the defiling of everything up to their boundaries. And what's with establishing segregated environment ministries that are then sidelined and separated from the powerful departments of finance, agriculture, transportation and industry that they're supposed to clean up after?

4. Worse than wasting energy, don't waste your life and reputation in Darth Vader corporations. Find a job that makes green possible and profitable, making it easy for people to go green – join in the biggest business trend of the next century. There's room for thousands of new occupations and businesses: organic landscapers, healthy home renovators, bicycle delivery systems, enviro lawyers, health workers, health food street vendors and hundreds more.
While I don't necessary agree with all the concerns about the political system or see some of the suggestions as realistic for all who would like to help, the ideas are definitely ones which can help focus the environmental movement on turning the public's current interest in the issue into lasting results. And in particular, given the need for emission reductions across most sectors and walks of life in order to reach Canada's Kyoto targets, the next couple of years may offer a unique opportunity to embed principles of responsibility and sustainability throughout Canada's policy-making structure rather than largely severing them off into a single ministry.

Of course, that'll require a governing party which doesn't try to equate small, single-sector actions with meaningful environmental programs. But whether it's a Con government embarrassed into action, a Lib one seeking to reverse its previous track record, or even an NDP surprise as the party's consistent advocacy on the issue comes to the forefront, that outcome appears at least somewhat plausible in the relatively near future. Which means that compared to the previous surges of environmentalism, this wave may be able to have a much longer-lasting effect.

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