The Spectrum of Environmentalism

This is an excerpt from the book Bright Green Lies.


DEEP GREENS

The living planet and nonhumans both have the right to exist. Human flourishing depends on healthy ecology. To save the planet, humans must live within the limits of the natural world; therefore, drastic lifestyle transformations need to occur at social, cultural, economic, political, and personal levels.

 

LIFESTYLISTS

Humans depend on nature, and technology probably won’t solve environmental issues, but political engagement is either impossible or unnecessary. The best we can do is practice self-reliance, small-scale living, and other personal solutions. Withdrawal will change the world.

 

BRIGHT GREENS

Environmental problems exist and are serious, but green technology and design, along with ethical consumerism, will allow a modern, high-energy lifestyle to continue indefinitely. The bright greens’ attitude amounts to: “It’s less about nature, and more about us.”

 

WISE USE / ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGERS

Ecological issues exist, but most problems are minor and can be solved through proper management. Natural resources should be protected primarily to enable their continued extraction and human well-being.

 

CORNUCOPIANS

The earth is made up of resources that are essentially infinite. Ecological problems are secondary. Technology and the economic system—whether free-market capitalism or socialism—will solve all ecological problems.

 

TECHNOCRATS / TRANSHUMANISTS

Humans should transcend biology by investing heavily in technology and developing synthetic meats and other foods. We can also avoid the possibility of human extinction by leaving planet Earth behind, and we should ultimately move towards cybernetic enhancement and uploading human consciousness into machines in order to defeat death.

9 thoughts on “The Spectrum of Environmentalism”

  1. It’s mildly reassuring that while deep greens, lifestylists, and bright greens are taken seriously, we’re hearing less and less from environmental managers and cornucopians. And while technocrats are still in the conversation, it’s good to see that few people are buying their tech fantasies about mining the asteroids and living on Mars.

    We need to keep the argument simple: Perpetual growth and the production of inorganic waste are crimes against nature, biologically punishable by death. Our population and our use of resources, respectively, are five and ten times what they were 120 years ago. Any impartial jury would regard that as proof that we’re guilty of willful conspiracy to destroy the planet.

    We can’t justify our existence any longer unless we immediately stop trying to produce as much as possible, and instead begin measuring human success by producing as little as possible. And that includes babies.

  2. As Mark mentioned, the only thing I would add is that it’s not just lifestyle changes that are needed, but also a great lowering of human population. And if human population were lowered enough, the lifestyle changes would take care of themselves (for example, industrial society wouldn’t be possible without gross human overpopulation).

    For some reason, DGR is in denial about the overpopulation problem, and without fixing that, humans would still be destroying the Earth even if they individually all lowered their consumption to basic survival levels, because as a whole humans would still be grossly overconsuming. (Actually, without lowering human population to one billion, you can’t even get rid of industrial society without most humans starving to death, because you need artificial fertilizer to feed more than a billion people. To be clear, one billion people is still far too many, but it would be a lot less harmful than the number on Earth now.)

    1. I beg to differ with you Jeff. Gross human over population wouldn’t be possible without industrial society(civilization). And if lifestyle changes were lowered enough, human population would take care of itself. Plenty of people are starving to death currently. But without the medical industrial complex or air conditioning a lot of people in the global north would not be alive. That descent will happen. Our only choice, while we still have one, is how. Unfortunately I believe the choice will be collapse. All we can do is try to save as much biodiversity and functioning ecosystems as possible.

      1. The only reason that you can make those statements is that you start in the middle instead of the beginning. Human overpopulation started with agriculture, which increased the human population by 100 times above the natural level. As I said, one billion is still gross overpopulation, because it’s at least 100 times more than what’s natural. Agriculture removed the natural population control of food availability and started overpopulation, just like in the high school biology experiment that we all did with the petri dish. The so-called Green Revolution, which provided even more food with artificial fertilizer, increased human population by another eight times. Modern medicine is a minor detail in comparison, though it obviously keeps some people alive longer than they would be naturally.

        I fully agree with your last sentence, that’s what we need to fight for far more than anything else.

        1. I would rephrase your thought. Agriculture increased the human population due to hierarchical and patriarchal systems becoming dominant. Indigenous peoples always have ways in which to control their population, but a hierarchical and patriarchal society wants a surplus workforce and eradicates women’s traditional wisdom.

          And you’re right that “modern medicine” is a relatively minor detail, but as a victim of it, I finally realized that its entire purpose is to keep old white dudes alive and in power. Everything from a free test for a circulatory issue that affects males to coverage for Viagra (!) makes it clear who is important to the medical-industrial establishment. I dream of a world where men die at their appropriate age under “civilization” — 40? 45? 50?

          1. No, I stated biological and ecological facts. Your statements are due to your ideology, which obviously clouds your judgment on these issues. This isn’t about how humans treat each other, it’s about how humans treat the Earth and everything living here, and even indigenous people — whatever that means; are the people in France indigenous? — overpopulate if they use agriculture.

            If you want to argue that I’m wrong, show me how increasing food with agriculture doesn’t increase population. Your task would be akin to proving that the Earth isn’t round.

          2. Simplistic and also propaganda, blaming males and elevating women to Top Dog. We don’t need this kind of Critical Gender Theory or Critical Indigenous Theory.
            Humans are fallible and so are their creations. This kind of anti male sexism is divisive just like Critical Race Theory. Everyone has his/her own theory. Most theories are just opinions. What is certain is that Nature deals with overpopulation in her own way, and women have no innate moral or intellectual superiority. If you disagree you are part of the problem, not the solution.

  3. Jeff the Amazonian indigenous have been planting manioc for thousands of years and didn’t overpopulate

    1. I’m unaware of any agricultural society that didn’t increase its population once it began using agriculture, which is by definition overpopulation. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide links to it.

      As I’ve said numerous times, this is basic biology from high school: give any animals more food and you get more animals. Agriculture provides more food. Simple as that, really.

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