Monday, August 27, 2007

The political heat is off

An editorial over the weekend titled "Cool Summits" explained how the political heat is off the environment. With NASA reworking the historical temperature data and the summer being relatively mild the fear of global warming has subsided. I think, to a certain extent, this is true. The news cycle generally guides public opinion and the reporting has subsided as has the political rhetoric. In the editorial, the author, Terence Corcoran, highlights some of the language used in post-summit press releases that indicate the political focus on the issue has diminished as more non-committal language is used.

I recognize that this is true. The environmental "movement" will, as it has in the past, have a difficult time becoming mainstream. It will be powered by the usual activists with a few new subscribers as we move forward. If celebrities move to another cause we'll know it is over.

The problem lies in the fact that, as a society, we believe that this is as good as it gets. House, two cars, two TVs, microwaves etc. We do not see that a better way to live is out there. The environment, as a political issue, needs to change from promoting that if change is not made we are all going to die to an improvement on the current way of life and equating almost everything to an economic/profit objective. For example, "Less garbage means lower collection costs means lower property taxes." or " Energy efficiency means lower bills and less power plants to spend billions on and cleaner air." By using examples of how environmental consciousness simply makes sense then positive change can be realized. It may be a slower more incremental process but some progress is better than none.

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