If this is war, we must use all the weapons at our disposal
Every Monday for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been mulling on one of my proposed Rules of the Pragmatic Environmentalist. This week, it is Rule 4: “Technology and markets mechanisms are powerful tools: we must use them to our advantage.”
One of my favourite sustainability reads has been The God Species by Mark Lynas- mainly because it is so joyfully contrarian, kicking tired old green tropes and making a daring proposition (I paraphrase):
If we are wreaking biblical levels of destruction on the planet, we’d better use our ‘god-like’ technologies to stop the damage before it is too late.
Like Lynas, one of my great frustrations with the activist end of the environmental movement is their near-religious belief that the most powerful weapons in our armoury – capitalism, GM technology, market-based solutions, nuclear energy to name a few – are evil. Every time something is proposed it gets knocked down as, at best, not good enough, at worst, the works of the devil. Biodiesel = bad. Carbon offsetting = immoral. Feed-In Tariffs = enrich the rich etc, etc.
Fortunately none of the people peddling these dictates actually has to propose something that works. If you do get a solution, it’s something vaguely along the lines of reorganising society into modern villages, going back to the land, growing nuts and whittling sticks.
Now I love a bit of whittling, but let’s get real – if we want change and we want change fast, then we’ve got to harness the powerful tools that we have at our disposal, not shy away from them. Let’s get our hands dirty!