Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The misrepresentation of environmentalism

Until a couple years ago, I had always held the view that environmentalists were drug-abusing hippies that didn't have jobs, dressed in flannel, and that most of them regularly chained themselves to trees. Never did I stop to consider most people with environmentalist-bendings were well-educated men and women with a deep concern for future generations.

To be honest, I am not certain as to what these impressions stemmed from. Perhaps it was the fact that the only environmentalist groups the media seems to focus on are eco-terrorist groups, tree-spikers, people that climb and refuse to leave trees in logging areas, or the literal tree-huggers. While I hold some degree of admiration for the passion these latter two groups exhibit non-violently, they are not normative of all environmentalists.

Perhaps this does not hold true across the country, but the term "environmentalist" has seemed to take on an increasingly negative connotation over the course of my 21 years. Attending a Christian university, a private Christian high school, and residing in Utah for much of my life have not presented me with the clearest means to view and understand different aspects of the greater American society, but even on the more rare occasions when I am not surrounded by my typical company, I have sensed an animosity towards "green" movements. For the conservatives that are concerned for the environment are few and very far between.

It appears that "environmentalists" are being unjustly portrayed and demonized by much of the United States in the same manner that "liberals" are. And while liberals do indeed represent a very sizable portion of American citizenry, not all liberals are environmentalists, and thus I fear for the future of environmentalist movements, especially as their concerns seem presently seem to be so valid and pressing.

And then I encounter articles like this one and fail to understand why people dismiss environmentalists as people on the fringe of society.
A man-made flood is roaring through the Grand Canyon in a bold experiment to restore the sandbanks of the Colorado river and to save fish and plants that have been disappearing over the past 40 years.


But in 1963 the natural flow of sand and water was permanently altered by the construction of Glen Canyon dam, just upstream from the Grand Canyon. The dam now traps all the sediment that would have flowed through the canyon, leaving the Colorado river sand-starved and flowing with ice cold, crystal clear water used to generate electricity.


"The ecosystem has been compromised by the dam and this is an effort to mimic what nature doesn't have a chance to do," said a Geological Survey spokeswoman. "
In Utah, environmentalist groups go door-to-door with petitions, asking for support in their movement to drain Lake Powell, which is the reservoir created by the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River on the Utah-Arizona border. I hear mockery of such groups every summer when I return to Salt Lake City from Washington. However, the fact remains, the concerns of these groups are quite valid.

So my question for you is this: what do you think of environmentalism? Is it fairly portrayed in our nation today?