The Diversity of Environmentalism

Aicha Ly | Opinion Editor


Environmentalism is an important and growing movement. There are more and more discussions about climate change and sustainability on an international scale, as seen by events such as the Paris Agreement. While the themes mentioned above (climate change and sustainability) are common themes in environmentalism, the diversity of this movement is often overlooked.

First, not every society has the same view of the Earth. Many Indigenous groups see the Earth as spiritual rather than material; in their perspective, it is self sufficient and not subject to ownership. Other societies, namely Western civilization, see the Earth through a more materialistic lens. In this view, resources are there for us to use to our benefit and can be owned in order to facilitate trade and capital. Private ownership of land and resources is seen as a marker of democracy, which is viewed as a positive thing. Of course, there is diversity under this perspective as well since it varies depending on government type and cultural ideals. What type of regime is the state in question being ruled by, a democratic regime or an authoritative regime? Is the society collectivist or individualistic? Overall, when it comes to views on Earth in environmentalism, is one view necessarily better or more correct than the other?

Then, of course, there are people who simply do not believe that there is a need for environmentalism because they believe that climate change does not exist. One notable example is the Republican Congresswoman from Georgia known as Marjorie Taylor Green. Her claims that the California wildfires were started by a laser beam shot from space are pretty well known. As an elected official, it can be confidently said that some of her followers may also believe this view since they trust her as a form of political authority and may see her disinformation as reality which is problematic on its own.

Furthermore, there seems to be a common view in environmentalism that people must fight to save the planet. This is a bit vague and can be misleading. We can save biodiversity. We can also protect animal habitats, reducing our ecological footprint and the number of species that go extinct as the result of human activities. However, at the end of the day, Earth will be here much longer than we will. Ultimately, we are fighting to save lives; that of other species and our own. If we do not focus on sustainability, the planet will still be here. But, we are increasing the risk of disaster from lack of resource availability and an increase in the wealth gap due to a skyrocket in living expenses which will kill us off. If we are not more environmentally conscious, continuing to pollute the planet, maybe one day Earth will recover on its own. However, this would likely be after human are long gone--gone as the result of us abusing resources for profit without truly weighing the long term costs. Environmentalism is often generalized as encouraging people to be environmentally green, but it is much more complicated than that in reality. There are any different perspectives and factors that come into play. Being aware of this can help us become better informed and more responsible global citizens.