Will Environmental Advocates Put Themselves Out of a Job?
I hope so. But my friends don’t need to worry. It will take a while.
In recent years, critics have alleged that environmental advocates stir up trouble to keep the contributions rolling in and keep themselves employed. That’s absurd. The dream is to help instill an ethic of conservation in the citizenry that will make it unnecessary to write new laws and rules to contain pollution and resource exploitation. It is a dream that won’t be realized now or for a few generations, but it is attainable.
Start with a presumption that everyone wants to do right by the environment.
I haven’t met anyone who opposes clean air or water. Or anyone clamoring to get rid of the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act. But the actions needed to protect those and other natural goods don’t always follow. Why is that? I’ve heard multiple explanations. One is that it’s tiresome to be scolded by environmental groups who want to use guilt to spur change.
Environmental advocates are now taking this to heart. In fact, Conservation Minnesota recognized it years ago and has consistently emphasized positive motivation for change – namely, that we all love Minnesota and want to protect it. This is our common ground. We can do a lot in this territory. As one unnamed sage once put it, a good planet is hard to find. Most of us want to keep this good planet in good health.
But moving toward a day when people and systems align with a clean, healthy planet and a sustainable style of living will take time, like re-growing a forest or re-freezing a glacier. It won’t happen tomorrow. In the meantime, laws and rules protecting the environment have a place. And when they are no longer necessary, somewhere around the river bend of time, advocates will have plenty of other worthwhile work to do.