Tree-hugging hippies and bloodthirsty killers – environmentalism makes strange bedfellows
You wouldn’t expect Greens, who often refuse to eat animals, to have much in common with hunters, who enjoy shooting and eating them. But shared perspectives on factory farming, personal responsibility and an affinity for nature are providing much needed common ground in order to bring about important political and societal change concerning environmental issues. Funny how looming disasters have a way of bringing some people together.
The ecology movements around the world have diverse origins in terms of politics, philosophy and lifestyle. This shouldn’t be too surprising considering we have to share the planet and perhaps contrary to our behavior, it is in all our interests to keep it healthy. Though the philosophy of the Green movement in the United States owes a lot to Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), a vegetarian and political radical who practiced civil disobedience, American style conservationism also has its roots in individualism and survivalism.
Of course these days environmentalism is generally a more accepted and public concern. This can be attributed in part the so-called Green movement of the 1980s, especially in Europe, but in America, environmental legislation was first spurred on by hunters known as ‘gentleman sportsmen’ such as president Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1960s environmentalism reached a broad spectrum of Americans, prompting significant lawmaking by the early 1970s, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, effectively incorporating Green concerns into the federal government. But the Green movement itself had a harder time in America than in Europe and was at worst successfully portrayed by business interests as a bunch of flaky ‘tree huggers’ who stood in the way of development and progress.
Into the new millennium, the American Green movement has made inroads by courting the interests of those traditionally less comfortable with the ‘environmentalist’ label, such as hunters, labor unions and religious groups. There is surely still disagreement and some bad blood between opposite ends of the environmentally-conscious spectrum, but lets hope cooperation continues if it means affecting important, positive change. Group hug anyone? No, I didn’t think so.
By Graham Land