Despite a few minor flare-ups around the Copenhagen Climate Summit and substances like bisphenol A and asbestos, the last five years have been relatively quiet with respect to environment policy battles. That peace, relative to much of the 1990’s, may be coming to an end.
Some of the peacefulness, especially in Canada, arose because governments dramatically reduced the funding which environmental groups previously received from them. Some came from governments’ improved ability to disarm criticism, most often with responses like “we are studying the problem”. Some came because the media lost much of its ability to properly report on environmental issues which are, despite appearances, often extremely complex. Some came because activism amongst the post-secondary student community died down with growing emphasis on finding increasingly scarce well-paying jobs.
Recently there have been some stirrings of the old confrontational environmentalist agenda. Federal staffing cuts at Environment Canada, the pouring of US corporate money into the fight against climate change action, and efforts to undo environmental legislation and regulation by the Tea Party members of Congress are providing an opportunity for the environmental movement.
Environmental activists, and the groups for which they work, often have a political agenda. They love a political battle, not least because it provides the best possible fundraising opportunity. Saving the Grand Canyon from mining, battling the rollback of toxic chemical regulations, saving the cute spotted owl, and fighting for ‘cap and trade’ (yes, even that!) offer far more effective fundraising opportunities than writing environmental primers, lobbying against an obscure chemical, or pushing for renewal of energy conservation grants.
Anti-environment governments, and the corporations that encourage them to follow an anti-environment agenda, cause far more harm to the industrial and resource-based economy than governments that follow a planned and steady plan for addressing environmental challenges using science and sustainable development based approaches. If industry associations want to avoid such newsworthy events as demonstrations, the climbing of plant gates, and the takeover of annual meetings by activists, possibly even the boycott of products, GallonDaily recommends that they work with governments and environmental groups to develop properly planned rollout of environmental and social responsibility policies that come close to meeting the objectives of mainstream North American voters.
The above is a GallonDaily editorial and advisory to business. GallonDaily’s editor has more than 25 years of experience in working with industry, government, and environmental groups in development of environmental strategies that work for the environment and the economy.