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Environmental Activism Essay
1. 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 country’s 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
The mainstream environmental movement is
now perceived by many as out of touch with people’s 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 line, etc.)
There may be some complimentary results
of the efforts of both mainstream and radical groups. The large environmental
organizations, while denouncing the radical’s 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
2. With Soule’s 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,
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
This conflict will inevitably lead to the
imposition of authoritarian regimes.
There is already evidence of “ecological
elite’s” 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.
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”.
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 a revolutionary,! regime will be
capable of mounting the immense task of social reorganization needed to
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