M1. The large mainstream environmentalism groups started to compromise too much with regulatory
agencies and bureaus, starting with the Glen Canyon Dam project. This began an estrangement with the
mainstreams that culminated in the rise of more militant groups like Earth First! Glen Canyon represented
what was fundamentally wrong with the countrys conservation policies: arrogant government officials
motivated by a quasireligious zeal to industrialize the natural world, and a diffident bureaucratic leadership
in the mainstream environmental organizations that more or less willingly collaborated in this process.
The mainstream environmental groups and government held the premise that mankind should
control and manage the natural world. The radicals held that our technological culture with its intrusions
on natural world had to be curtailed, perhaps even undone, to keep the ecology of this planet and our role in
it viable. It marked a shift from a rearguard strategy (mainstream) to protect wilderness to an affirmative
attempt to roll back the artifacts of civilization, to restore the world to the point where natural processes
such as the flow of rivers could continue.
The mainstream environmental movement is now perceived by many as out of touch with peoples
deep concern about environmental degradation, has become systematized.
The activists use approaches such as industrial vandalism or ecotage to foster dramatic results.
Some other methods employed are tree spiking, tree sitting, road blockading, demonstrations, tree pinning,
ship sinking, dam breaking and outright terrorist-type sabotage (bombing power stations, bridges, power
There may be some complimentary results of the efforts of both mainstream and radical groups.
The large environmental organizations, while denouncing the radicals confrontational activities, have then
been able to use their ample finances to take the campaign to Congress or the courts with the impetus of
public support the radicals generated.
2. With Soules quote, including Vertebrate evolution may be at an end it means that the civilization
complex has lost its reference point by overwhelming the natural processes it has always used to define
itself. The otherness of nature is disappearing into the artificial world of technology. As the environmental
crisis worsens, we can expect increased attention directed at the ecological sciences, resource management,
pollution control, and technological supervision of the reproduction of valued species, including man.
Toynbee writes that the ecological scarcity of the future will be so severe that the within each of the
beleaguered developed countries there will be a bitter struggle for control of their diminished resources.
This conflict will inevitably lead to the imposition of authoritarian regimes.
There is already evidence of ecological elites where power and status are increasingly measured not
merely by economic control, but by control over the ecology. Access to clean water, fresh air, open wild
spaces, and natural products is competing with ownership of German autos and Swiss watches. It is
becoming the main preoccupation of political debate.
As an example, even when a corporation decides to create a item through genetic or non-genetic
engineering, it is often indirectly determining what species will be exterminated to increase profits, which
habitats will be sacrificed for economic growth, and whose children will be allocated the toxic water,
poisoned food, and radioactive living space.
If the environmental crisis is causing us to reexamine and reject the accepted values of the civilization
complex in its entirety, a unique event is taking place: the passing of civilization into history.
2. Societal breakdown in the face of a continually deteriorating physical world may face many problems.
As stated above by historian Toynbee, a conflict may lead to the imposition of authoritarian regimes.
Political scientist Ophuls offers a similar view, that in the light of ecological scarcity… the individualistic
basis of society, the concept of inalienable rights, the purely self-defined pursuit of happiness, liberty as
maximum freedom of action, and laissez-faire itself all require abandonment if we wish to avoid inexorable
environmental degradation and perhaps extinction as a civilization. Economist Heilbroner see this process
of environmental disarray as transcending political distinctions between capitalist and socialist countries,
irregardless of the conservative thinking that democratic capitalism has triumphed over communism. He
believes that the urgencies of the future point to the conclusion that only an authoritarian, or possible only
regime will be capable of mounting the immense task of social reorganization needed to escape
The story of the IK tribe and its analogy to the future of the western society in the face of
continuing biological meltdown may prove true. We have had various authorities from a variety of
disciplines reach similar conclusions about this unproecedented problem, it suggests, at the very least, that
the environmental crisis has made our culture obsolescent in ways we have yet to contemplate, with our
extremely weak rhetoric about alternative energy sources, recycling, and appropriate technology. The
scope of the environmental crisis should make us question our entire history on Earth, back to the origins or
civilization. World Wars, space flight, and the nuclear arms race may be looked at by future generations
who may wonder how these generations could have been caught up in such minor distractions.
4. They were fed up with the lack of vision in the environmental movement, the ineffectiveness of its
moderate stance, the estrangement between its professional leadership and grass-roots activists, the
extremism of industry and government opposition to environmental protection, the crisis of wilderness
destruction as a result of unfettered industrial development.
The Sierra Club and other mainstream environmental groups concentrated its efforts on
environmental health hazards to people caused by air, water, and pesticide pollution. Its members and
clientele were worried about the effects of toxic waste, radiation, and smog. The question of keeping
natural areas pristine for the benefit of the nonhuman creatures that dwelt there was considered somewhat
ethereal and elitist.
On the other hand the founders of Earth First! chose big wilderness whose ecological equilibrium
was still undisturbed by industrial society as their central concern – the basic unit of radical
environmentalism. This priority was grounded on the scientifically sound premise that since all parts of the
environment are ultimately connected, any particular component, including that relatively expendable part
called humanity, can be secure only if the entire ecosystem remains healthy. Keeping pollution under
control-that is, within politically determined standards-did nothing to ensure that the more subtle
environmental imbalances caused by industrial development and overpopulation would not also come back
to afflict human welfare in insidious ways.
The basic tenets of the Earth First! movement:
No compromise in defense of Mother Earth.
There is a need for a radical wing that would make the Sierra Club look moderate. Someone has to say
what needs to be said, and do what needs to be done and take the kinds of strong action to dramatize it.
Earth First! wants to make the mainstream environmental groups operate more effectively by making them
appear reasonable in comparison. It also strives to be a force in its own right, taking whatever actions
within its means that were necessary to protect the ecology, irrespective of the mainstream environmental
movements agenda or the niceties of politics or even the constraints of the law.
Earth First! should stand for the radical proposition that the natural world should be preserved for its won
sake, not for the sake of any real or imagined benefits to humanity.
Restoring the natural world to its wild state, thereby putting the integrity of ecosystems above economic
and political considerations, a position that in its academic setting was known as biocentrism, or more
generally Deep Ecology.
The central idea of Earth First! is that humans have no divine right to subdue the Earth, that we are merely
one of several million forms of life on this planet. We reject even the notion of benevolent stewardship as
that implies dominance. Instead we believe, as did Aldo Leopold, that we should be plain citizens of the
land community. This meant no permanent human habitation (with minor exceptions); no use of
mechanized equipment or vehicles; no roads; no logging, mining, water diversion, industrial activity,
agriculture, or grazing; no use of artificial chemical substances; no suppression of wildfires; no overflights
by aircraft; no priority given to the safety and convenience of human visitors over the functioning of the
ecosystem. Even more visionary than these land community guidelines was the demand for the restoration
of dams, roads, power lines, and the other intrusions of industrial society.
5. The campaign of the Sea Shepherds brought international attention to the problem of unregulated
whaling. Norwegian authorities began an investigation of a bank that had part ownership in the pirate
operation, a Japanese fishing company became the object of an inquiry, and the South African government
began a crackdown on pirate whalers operating out of its country. Over the years the Sea
Shepherds made many campaigns, from stopping seal hunts along the Labrador coast to interfering with
B.C.s wolf eradication plans to chasing off Japanese fishing fleets using highly destructive drift nets in the
The action of most note is the raiding of a Reykjavik whale processing plant and the harbor and subsequent
sinking of whaling ships operating under the guise of research.
The Sea Shepherd activities not only attracted media; its militant activities also succeeded in
influencing the environmental movement as a whole.
The Sea Shepherd movement, after the events of Reykjavik, proved they could be successful in the
war on commercial whaling. The ecological awakening felt by the Icelandic people as an direct result of
the raid was proof that radical environmentalism was affecting people in ways the leaders of the
mainstream environmental movement never dreamed of.The ability of the Shepherds to win the support
of a number of people, including celebrities, despite of or perhaps because of its militancy, who might
otherwise have been reluctant to endorse ecotage.
6. Though both groups share common feelings about environmentalism, their actions are at opposite ends
of the spectrum. Deep Ecology is basically theologic in its approach, whereas Earth First! is an activist
group. An analogy to the Irish Republican Army may be made that Deep Ecology represents the Sein Fein
faction while Earth First! represent the armed radical faction of an army of activist environmentalists.
Deep Ecology is based on a respect or a reverence for the life community which consists of innumerable
individuals interacting in a variety of ways. It is ecological, recognizing that life depends on life, that some
suffering and pain is inherent in nature, that death is not evil. It is naturalistic, believing that nature knows
best, going beyond good and evil to simply letting being be. Deep Ecology has tried to keep to the
perception that makes the environmental crisis a subject of discourse: the deep feeling people have that
nature is under siege by the artificial, destructive cultures of modern humanity. The grief and outrage many
people feel at the extirpation of nature is directly addressed by Deep Ecologys message that we must
unlearn anthropocentrism and develop a less imperial culture that allows for the continued existence of the
natural world. While humanist environmentalism remains in its academic setting, Deep Ecology has
inspired people to begin education t!
he culture of extinction about the necessity of environmental humility. Some have likened the theory and
practice of this activism to the civil rights movement of the 60s, a new civil rights movement seeking moral
recognition for that vast part of the biosphere-the nonhuman-that the Enlightenment spurned.
Earth First! represents the rage and reaction that radical environmentalists feel toward the destruction of
the natural world. They are not only acting out their rage, on the contrary, the theory and practice of
ecotage are as well thought out as the politics of reform. Formans notion of monkeywrenching, based on
the belief that if profit brings the resource industry into the wilderness, loss of profit due to continuing
equipment damage, production delays, and increased security will drive it out. The cost of repairs,
production delays, and increased security will drive it out. It may be too much for the bureaucrats and
exploiters to accept if there is a widely-dispersed, unorganized, strategic movement of resistance across the
land. Such a movement has developed, though not on the scale radical environmentalists would wish.
Ecotage probably costs the resource industry and government agencies between $20 and $25 million
annually. One can only speculate as to the ef!
fect that has had on decisions made in corporate boardrooms. Most Earth First!ers do not believe ecotage is
a substitute for major social changes; rather, it is a stopgap measure – damage control – to protect as much
of the natural world as possible until such change is brought about, one way or another.
7. It tells us that society values property and the higher standard of living through technology over the
natural world and any rights the natural world may be entitled to even though the majority of society on a
personal level is sympathetic to the cause of radical environmentalists in theory. The American people are
not accustomed to thinking of such nonhuman entities as mountain lions, forests, and rivers as exploited
groups whose 9th amendments rights can be violated. From the perspective of the radical
environmentalists movement, this state of affairs is exactly the problem.
In the ante-bellum South, people were not accustomed the thinking of slaves as human beings who
had any claim to the protection of the law. We now find this position both repugnant and ridiculous. In the
future, so goes the biocentric argument, we will feel the same toward contemporary societys refusal to
extend legal and ethical standing to the deer people and the tree people.
Radical environmentalism is best understood as an attempt to enlarge the circle of legal and ethical
standing (9th amendment rights) to include other species and even entire ecosystems.
Using this theory as a 9th amendment weapon to extend the rights to the natural world can only, in
my opinion, happen when society as whole, i.e. in large numbers, gets behind the biocentric movement to
the magnitude it got behind the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 60s and 70s.
8. Much of the breakdown of civilization is that we seem to rely on a totalization of values, values
represented as universal, applicable to everyone, at all times. Through totalized values, organized societies
have at their command a medium through which to dictate the kind of human behavior that enhances the
power of those in control.Whether those values result in people plowing a field, working in a factory, or
dropping an atomic bomb on helpless civilians, the discourse of civilization can find a justification in Gods
commandments, progress, national security, or humanism. Social power shapes the most intimate and
quotidian acts of civilizations citizens.`
Industrial man and the industrial society may be the most deleterious and unsustainable economic
system the world has ever seen, since it constantly eats into the ecological systems on which it depends.
We are beginning to realize just how costly a system it is as the health and cleanup bills from years of
environmental abuse come due. Not surprisingly, those who benefited most from the extravagant rise of
the industrial economy have done their best to pass the burden on to others: the poor, the unwary, or the
next generation. Industrialism is perhaps the greatest pyramid scheme in history.
The role that industrial man must take for the ultimate survival of the natural world is that he must
take the action to slow and reverse human population growth . There are ecological limits to how many
people can live in dignity on this planet; to quibble over whether that line has yet been crossed is to invite a
game of ecological brinkmanship that there is no need to play. And if human population has not exceeded
carrying capacity, the arguments of the humanist critics leave out the whole question of the effect present
population levels have on the nonhuman world.