Sierra Clubbers Anonymous
A 12-Step Program for Recovering Population-Deniers and Green Growth-Managers
You finally hit rock bottom—and you just can’t seem to summon the stamina to climb out. But don’t despair. Realizing that you are in trouble and are powerless to get out of it without assistance is the first step to recovery.
Once when you had control of your life you were an authentic environmentalist. You regarded the “IPAT” equation as axiomatic. That is, you accepted the fact that environmental impact (I) equalled the population level (P) times per capita consumption (A) times technology (T). But then you fell off the wagon, and in deference to political correctness you discreetly dropped the “P” and refused to acknowledge that population growth, and particularly immigrant-driven population growth was a key variable of environmental degradation. You could only think about one thing, “over-consumption”, or another, “green technology”. Until one day you woke in the gutter without a brain and without integrity, without everything that made you an intellectually independent being. You suddenly came to realize that your escapism and self-indulgent quest to feel good about yourself by making token “green” consumer choices only promoted more growth, and that growth of any kind was harmful. Oh, the guilt and the shame of it. You are ready to change but you just can’t find the strength within yourself to make it happen. Where do you turn to? Whom do you turn to?
Friend, Sierra Clubbers Anonymous (SCA) is there for you. You are not alone. Other soft greens have also lost their way and lost their wits too. With their help, together you can locate that strength, that power that exists beyond yourself that you can draw on to effect and repair the damage you have done by your denial. At any time of day or night, at your weakest moment, when you feel that you must forfeit your new found courage and return to the soft but suffocating bosom of an environmental NGO and surrender your mind to Sierra Group Think---members of Sierra Clubbers Anonymous will be there for you to steady your faltering willpower and keep you to the path of redemption. If they are not immediately at your door they will be at the other end of telephone to guide your through you the darkness of despair back to a comprehensive understanding of the causes of environmental damage. Just when you were about to give up all hope of understanding why things are going to hell, SCA will come to your rescue. Change is possible.
But first you must admit to yourself that numbers matter, that it is not just about per capita consumption but the sum total of “capitas”. You must acknowledge that would be pointless for a society to cut its per capita consumption in half only to turn around and double the population. And you must accept that there are no miracle technological solutions to what is essentially a moral problem—the need to stabilize and reduce our population level. By making things more efficient, new technology makes them cheaper, and therefore provokes even more consumption than before. More efficient use of scarce resources allows for and promotes more growth. You must finally grasp that smart growth is dumb. In short, you must make the decision to think for yourself and not swallow the filtered information of the Sierra Club executive or rely upon CBC Pravda for the facts. You must choose reality over delusion
As a signal of this commitment, you must pledge to follow the 12 steps to full recovery. They are,
Step 1: Honesty
After many years of denial, recovery can begin when with one simple admission of being powerless to regain your intellectual independence without reaching out for truth and that a self-righteous Sierran yuppie who is semi-literate in the laws of sustainability is more a fool than a so-called blue collar redneck who has no pretensions of superior consciousness.
Step 2: Faith
You must first have faith in biophysical laws and that the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Trespass Carrying Capacity” trumps anything that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai or the optimism of the green apostles of false hope.
Step 3: Surrender
You must surrender your dependence on Sierra Club newsletters and set out on the lonely journey of educating yourself. You must start by understanding the exponential function and the limits to growth. You must understand that the world is finite as are its resources. No feat of human ingenuity can conjure up extinct species, replenish cheap oil or rehabilitate mined out soils without the use of fossil fuel-based fertilizers.
Step 4: Soul Searching
There is a saying in the 12-step programs that recovery is a process, not an event. The same can be said for this step -- more will surely be revealed. You must conduct a fearless moral inventory. Have any of your feel-good green gestures made a whit of difference? Did that solar panel you installed create more energy than was involved in making it? Did that so-called smart car you bought not involve an industrial process, was ore not mined , smelted and transported to a factory to rendezvous with rubber derived from fallen trees? Did not the so-called green factory it was made in consist of materials that inflicted a cost on the environment to make and transport? Were not the gains you made by riding a bike to work wiped out by taking that annual plane flight to Mexico or Bali? By siring or giving birth to two children did you not effectively double your ecological footprint and be responsible for more carbon emissions than a meat-eating man or woman without children could ever make up for? Are you not a hypocrite with your holier-than-thou green conscience?
Step 5: Integrity
Probably the most difficult of all the steps to face, Step 5 is also the one that provides the greatest opportunity for personal growth, the only kind that is benign. You must examine the financial reports of any environmental organization that you belong to and follow the money trail. You must renounce any group like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy or the David Suzuki Foundation which accepts corporate donations. You wouldn’t accept your beloved NDP accepting such dirty money, so why is it acceptable for these groups to receive money from financial institutions and energy corporations? “Hear no evil, see no evil” is not the posture of anyone with integrity.
Step 6: Acceptance
The key to Step 6 is acceptance – accepting that you have been WILLFULLY ignorant and tolerant of corruption in the environmental movement. You must accept that you need an education. Start with Christine MacDonald’s “Green Inc” which documents how much mainstream environmental organizations are on the corporate take. Then take a look at Canada and ask, why is the Royal Bank funding the David Suzuki Foundation and Nature Conservancy? Why is the Toronto Dominion Bank doing the same for the Sierra Club? What do they want in return? What are these green organizations doing, or more to the point, not doing and not saying to get that money? Why does Suzuki accuse climate change deniers of being shills for the petroleum industry while his foundation accepts donations from the natural gas giant Encana? Why haven’t YOU being doing this homework? Why haven’t YOU being asking these questions? Are not you the same kind of person who shakes his head when Christians in an evangelical church still support a minister who has been exposed for dishonesty, betrayal or adultery? Are you not a credulous dupe too?
Step 7: Humility
The spiritual focus of Step 7 is humility, realizing that your smug superiority complex is unwarranted. That the average logger or fish farm worker is no more responsible than you are for the system that we are trapped in.
Step 8: Willingness
Making a list of those that have been harmed by your support of false gods. The first casualty is the farmland we have lost to development fuelled by our having the highest population growth rate in the G8 group. And the many hundreds of species that are now at risk of extinction as a result. You must include on that list the fact that the environmental groups you blindly supported by their unwillingness to bite the corporate hand that feeds them have refused to fight population and economic growth and therefore made meeting Kyoto targets IMPOSSIBLE.
Step 9: Forgiveness
You must ask for the forgiveness of those you have slandered and race-baited, and from the constituency that you have betrayed by allowing them to think that your group was a watchdog guarding the environment. Your green “watchdog” stopped barking when corporate Canada fed him a bone.
Step 10: Maintenance
Nobody likes to admit to being wrong. But you must continually remind yourself that your blind obedience to a corrupt, money-grubbing corporate lackey for so many years demands your consistent apologies.
Step 11: Making Contact
You must make contact with reality and with knowledge that your organization and the editors of the politically correct rags that you read do not allow you to see. As the Romans said, “nullius verba”---take no one’s word. Don’t take their word or my word. Do your own research.
Step 12: Service
You can make amends for some of the damage that you have unwittingly done with your ill-informed good intentions by redirecting your donations and your efforts to projects and causes that make a difference. For example , instead of sending money or support to a nation like the Philippines that has no intention of controlling its population growth, re-deploy it to countries like Thailand or Madagascar that are serious about birth control programs. Money to nations like Ethiopia, Haiti, Afghanistan, the Philippines and the like essentially amounts to a birth incentive and too often a bounty on wildlife.
Finally, you must ask yourself, is your loyalty to an organization an informed loyalty to its ideas, policies principles or are you more loyal to the neighbours and friends in it? It is fundamentally a social club that you can’t bear to challenge, is fellowship your main motive? If your allegiance is to the tribe and not the cause then you must ask, is a friendship that is contingent on your fixed opinions and organizational support more important than your integrity and intellectual growth? Are you too weak to stand alone? Is “getting along” by “going along” your survival code? If it is it, you are very human. And that is why we are in very big trouble.
Tim Murray . In your face and on your case. You gave me no quarter, so you shall receive none. With apologies to Diderot, the environment will never be safe until the last counterfeit environmentalist is strangled with the entrails of the last banker or developer.