Monday, August 15, 2005

Eco: Revitalizing the movement

The shock waves that followed the release of The Death of Environmentalism, a report on the state of the American environmental movement presented by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in October 2004, continue to reverberate.

The report argued that a new vision for conservation and environmental politics is urgently needed, stirring a pot that had been on the back burner for decades. At first, many in the environmental movement's establishment, such as the Sierra Club's Carl Pope, responded as if put on the defensive.

Since then, several of Connecticut's local grass roots organizations and educational institutions have shown their willingness to embrace the authors' call for change and have begun searching for a new vision for environmental education and outreach.

The New England Environmental Education Alliance, a group of environmental educators from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, has planned its October 2005 convention, Raising our Net Impact: The Next Generation of Environmental Education, as a "face in the mirror" sort of forum on what's working and what's not.

Students at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Sciences in New Haven, along with the school's dean, Gus Speth, hosted a forum with the authors in May. A video of the event is now posted on the school's web site, Post-environmentalism: Beyond “I have a nightmare” politics. The video provides an excellent overview of the report and the ensuing debate, and an opportunity to get up to speed on the new ideas that promise to reshape the enviromental movement in the future.

Besides making the report available online, the web magazine Grist.org, posts relevant articles and maintaints an online forum.

In my opinion, the critique Schellenberger and Nordhaus have offered promises to spark the most exciting period in the environmental movement since the late '60s, and perhaps its history. Think about getting involved.

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