Economics, Energy and the Environment

Don’t Call Them Environmentalists

al-goreOver at uber-environmentalist, green, treehugging something-or-other website Grist, Dave Roberts is NOT, repeat NOT, engaging in an effort to rebrand environmentalism. Nor is he running away from it. He is just… going in a different direction. Dave’s desire to extract the climate change agenda from the general environmental movement has nothing to do with its steadily declining popularity, and its complete ineffectiveness in moving the regulatory agenda in the last Congress. Or, at least, that’s his story. “The point is not, emphatically not, to ‘rebrand environmentalism.’ Please kill me if I ever have to listen to another discussion about rebranding environmentalism.”

Dave’s not alone: other, environmentalist, green, treehugging, um, whatever groups, are also chucking Al Gore under the bus, and distancing themselves from the excesses of environmentalism. A few are even honest about it. As the New York Times recently reported about one such group, people in the heartland really don’t want to hear about all that conventional green stuff, so…

“Don’t mention global warming,” warned Nancy Jackson, chairwoman of the Climate and Energy Project, a small nonprofit group that aims to get people to rein in the fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change. “And don’t mention Al Gore. People out here just hate him.”

After a discussion with 226 of his green friends people formerly known as environmentalists, Dave has come up with a new name for his team: They’re not greens anymore, though green is good. They’re not environmentalist anymore, because while that’s mostly good,  those darned local environmentalists keep opposing climate change boondoggles like wind turbine farms, solar farms, corn ethanol, and so on. And besides, the brand is tainted, and when Lisa Jackson gets done wreaking havoc on the economy under the banner of the Environmental Protection Agency, it’ll be more tainted yet. So the new term of art, Dave argues, is climate hawk.

Dave likes the way it sounds all conservative-like, and macho:

“Yes, I’m well aware that “hawk” has militaristic overtones. Trust me, when it comes to matters military I’m a DFH of the old school. But lefties shouldn’t be precious. The health of Mother Earth just doesn’t move that many people. For better or worse, more Americans respond to evocations of toughness in the face of a threat.

In foreign policy a hawk is someone who, as Donald Rumsfeld used to put it, “leans forward,” someone who’s not afraid to flex America’s considerable muscle, someone who takes a proactive attitude toward gathering dangers. Whatever you think about foreign policy, is that not the appropriate attitude to take toward the climate threat? Does it not evoke a visceral sense of both peril and resolve, the crucial missing elements in America’s climate response?”

Now, I’m sure that since Dave knows that the opposite of a “hawk” in such a context is a “dove,” he’ll take to calling those who oppose his policy desires “climate doves,” right? I like the sound of that, since that’s what I am, a climate dove. I don’t deny the reality of climate change, I just don’t believe assumption-laden computer models that are designed to project Climageddon, and I don’t believe we need to reinvent humanity to prevent the Climapocalypse.

So will I get the sobriquet of “climate dove?” Er, no. In the same article, explaining why he rejected the team name of climate “realist,” Dave trots out the old “climate denialist” language for those who might stand in his way: “climate denialists have tried to claim ‘climate realists,’ but to my ears they just sound defensive and pathetic.”

I’d have to say that given the fact that so many climate change policy-mongers (especially the wealthy ones, like James Cameron and Al Gore) fundamentally live lives of hypocrisy in which they refuse to give up the very things they’re telling others to give up, and refuse to show others the respect that they demand for themselves, a more appropriate term for Dave’s new team might be “chicken hawks,” which the unassailable Wikipedia defines as: “a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who strongly supports a war or other military action, yet who actively avoided military service when of age.”

Image by the World Economic Forum.

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