New York Times embraces green authoritarianism

In: Uncategorized

19 Apr 2009

Today’s New York Times magazine is a special green issue. It includes several interesting – although flawed – articles on the subject including:

Why isn’t the brain green?. Implying that failure to accept environmental priorities suggests some kind of mental disorder and suggesting people need to be “nudged” in the right direction. This form of insidious authoritarianism is deeply trendy at present (see my post of 21 July 2008). It also links in to the idea that those who “deny” climate change (that is critics either of the mainstream scientific views on the subject or of the idea that it can only be tackled by austerity) must be mentally ill.

The end is near! (yea!). An article on the “transition movement” – which sounds like a kind of survivalism: “The Transition movement was started four years ago by Rob Hopkins, a young British instructor of ecological design. Transition shares certain principles with environmentalism, but its vision is deeper — and more radical — than mere greenness or sustainability. “Sustainability,” Hopkins recently told me, “is about reducing the impacts of what comes out of the tailpipe of industrial society.” But that assumes our industrial society will keep running. By contrast, Hopkins said, Transition is about “building resiliency” — putting new systems in place to make a given community as self-sufficient as possible, bracing it to withstand the shocks that will come as oil grows astronomically expensive, climate change intensifies and, maybe sooner than we think, industrial society frays or collapses entirely. For a generation, the environmental movement has told us to change our lifestyles to avoid catastrophic consequences. Transition tells us those consequences are now irreversibly switching on; we need to revolutionize our lives if we want to survive.”

Natural happiness. Arguing conservation on the basis of the pleasure it gives to humans: “Real natural habitats provide significant sources of pleasure for modern humans. We intuitively grasp this, and this knowledge underlies the anxiety that we feel about nature’s loss. It might be that one day we will be able to replace the experience of nature with “Star Trek” holodecks and robotic animals. But until then, this basic fact about human pleasure is an excellent argument for keeping the real thing.”

It is hard to distinguish such pieces from the kinds of arguments that could be found in such publications as the Ecologist magazine.

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