All Environmentalism is Local
So, it’s Earth Day. But does anyone care? According to USA Today:
[W]hile polls show most Americans want clean air, clean water and wildlife protection, environmental issues rank low on their list of priorities — behind jobs, health care, education and national security.
"There's this paradox where Americans hold these views, but when it comes time to take action, there are many, many issues that trump environmental concerns," said Peter Teague, environmental programs director at the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
Here at The Yellow Line, we question if the problem with the environmental movement is that it’s, well, too global. When we hear about deforestation of the rainforests or ice caps melting or air quality declining in a city on the other side of the country, it seems too much to tackle. Not that it isn’t worth addressing, just that it’s inaccessible.
Like all politics, environmentalism is most successful when it goes local. the best way to preserve the land is to get people to connect with the land. And President Bush did just that today, according to CNN:
President George W. Bush is celebrating Earth Day with one of his favorite pastimes -- working the land. The president, who often is at odds with environmentalists, was scheduled to celebrate their holiday on Friday in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He was to speak at the Cades Cove area near Townsend, Tennessee, after some quick restoration work on one of more than a dozen trails that originates there.
As a President, Bush has not made environmentalism anywhere near his top concern. But as a man, he has shown a passion for his own piece of land down in Crawford. We can learn from this. People are much more willing to focus on the environment that's right around them. In fact, according to the USA Today report, The Sierra Club has been working with people to do just that.
The Sierra Club has paired up with ranchers and hunters against increased oil and gas development in some Western states. The environmental law firm Earthjustice is working with Hispanic groups and public health advocates to fight air pollution in California's Central Valley, with American Indians to restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest, and with native Hawaiians to protect wildlife in Hawaii.
In all these cases, the environment is being preserved not because it is morally right but because it is vital to the community. Saving the Earth isn’t really a quest for beauty or moral correctness. It’s a quest to preserve nature so that we can continue interacting with it, continue being a part of it.
The Yellow Line’s favorite president understood man’s organic connection to the land.
To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed. ~Theodore Roosevelt, seventh annual message, 3 December 1907