Everybody is an Environmentalist
Last week, I posited five rules for Pragmatic Environmentalism. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to expand on/refine this a little to explain my thinking, so, first up is:
Rule 1: Everybody is an Environmentalist
Yup, everyone. We pay good money to holiday in beautiful places, we pay a premium for houses with a view of nature or near a park, we get very excited at the sight of a whale or a bird of prey. Mainstream environmental NGOs have a massive membership – 4.5 million in the UK, 1 in 10 of British adults, or an order of magnitude more than the political parties can muster.
Even those hate figures of the green movement have a sliver of environmentalism – the Daily Mail has campaigned against single use plastic bags, climate troll James Delingpole has been known to fret about fish stocks, and Margaret Thatcher remains the only prime minister to make a major speech on the environment.
However, this does not mean we are a nation of goateed, yurt-dwelling tree huggers. There is a strong suspicion that the more vociferous elements of the green movement are ‘watermelons’ – green on the outside, socialists/reds on the inside – trying to use the environmental agenda to deliver wider political ends. I don’t think there is a great conspiracy, just that many in the movement can’t divide the two in their own minds – or acknowledge that people who disagree with them politically are allowed their own view.
I’m proud to be a ‘mango’ – green on the outside, orange (liberal) on the inside. I like to think that liberalism sees the plurality of environmentalism and that we have to form a broad coalition to tackle global environmental challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss or resource depletion. And key to that is to tap the inner environmentalist in everybody.