Saturday, April 13, 2013

What happened to the environmental movement?

It's Earth Day month, marked in the current New Yorker by Nicholas Lemann's plaintive and critical question: What happened to the environmental movement? On his way to issuing a final challenge to all of us who care about the answer, he cites Cornell historian Aaron Sachs's pastoral vision in Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition:
My hope, for all future generations, is that they will have (in addition to sunshine, fresh air, clean water, and fertile soil) a somewhat slower pace of life, with plenty of time to pause, in quiet places . . . haunted places—everyday, accessible places, open to the public—places that are not too radically transformed over time—places susceptible of cultivation, where people can express their caring, and nature can respond—places with tough, gnarled roots and tangled stalks, with digging mammals and noisy birds—places of common remembrance and hopeful guidance—places of unexpected encounters—places that breed solidarity across difference—places where children can walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before—places that are perpetually up for adoption—places that have been humanized but not conquered or commodified—places that foster a kind of connectedness both mournful and celebratory.
Sounds dreamy and wonderful, to a point. But radical transformation in targeted zones (like medical science) is not anything I'd vote against. And unless we all get a lot more "active" in addressing our environmental crisis right now, transformative technologies in energy and the environment may be the only connection between the benighted present and any future worth having.

No comments: Accelerating Intelligence News