From the pulpit of a 120-year-old church, Frederic Rich delivered a timeless message.
“We all know what the [environmental] problems are and we even generally know what the solutions are,” Rich said. “So why can’t we muster the will to do what needs to be done to make the changes?”
Speaking to a sanctuary filled with Minnesotans, ranging from interested individuals to some of the most important voices in the state’s environmental movement, the author of the book Getting to Green: Saving Nature: A Bipartisan Solution shared a message that was a little disruptive, but also very necessary.
In his talk, sponsored by Conservation Minnesota, Rich laid out his basic argument for why he believes the Green Movement in this country is stuck in neutral and what needs to be done to get it moving again.
Rich explained that the environmental protection framework of this country was passed by Congress in a bipartisan, and in some cases, nearly unanimous fashion. But that work all happened a quarter century ago, and no major environmental legislation has come out of Washington since.
Over 700 Minnesotans
He said that the bipartisan support enjoyed by environmental issues has dissolved over the past few decades as both sides began to mistrust the motives of their colleagues across the aisle.
“The perception that we (environmentalists) care more about nature than people is devastating to our message,” Rich said. “And their meme of saying every environmental regulation is a job killer is demonstrably false, but it’s been extremely effective.”
Rich urged those in attendance to lead the charge. To bridge the gap, he encouraged refocusing the messaging to set aside the divisive economic factors and focus instead on making the movement more welcoming to the vast majority of Americans who share land stewardship values and still believe that the environment is worth protecting.
“History teaches that fundamental shifts are not only possible, they’re inevitable.”