I once had a naive assumption. I assumed that environmental organizations are “environmental” organizations. That they are sincere individuals who just quite haven’ t “got it”, that if they would enter a dialogue with us they would gain a more comprehensive understanding of environmental degradation. After all, 40 years they all more or less accepted the IPAT equation. But as you know, the zeitgeist has changed since then.
Many commentators like Leon Kolankiewicz have written extensively about why they dropped the “P” from the equation and shifted their focus to human rights, womens rights and ‘environmental justice’ causes. By the mid-1990s they became ideologically resistant to suggestions of population control or reduction on a national or global scale. Elizabeth May, Carl Pope, Betsy Hartmann and George Monbiot exemplify this attitude.
The biggest marketing brainstorm yet devised was their appropriation of the label “green”---that alone is enough to win support from people who will not take the trouble to examine their actual policies. For if they do that, they would learn that environmental organizations and Green parties are not about stopping growth but managing it, or lubricating it. For that reason they have come to enjoy the financial support of major corporations like du Pont, Exxon, Weyerhauser, Nissau, General Electric and the big financial institutions---to name but a few. It is a symbiotic relationship. The corporations get the ecological dispensation that they are looking for and a cloak of good green citizenship that they can wear as they clearcut forests and cover farmland with subdivisions. And the green orgs, on the other hand, get the cash they need to support their growing bureaucracies. Chasing donor support and protecting it has replaced their original raison d’ etre. So while some green leaders like David Suzuki will privately agree that Canada must reduce its population dramatically or say so in Australia, they will never say so publicly in Canada. One of Suzuki’s most important benefactors is the Royal Bank of Canada, and their CEO Gordon Nixon has aggressively lobbied for a hike in immigration quotas of some 50%. A probe of their financial reports and a glance at their boards of directors would reveal how deeply the environmental organizations are in league with big corporations. Christine McDonald provides a scandalous snapshot of this in her book,” Green Inc”. So any attempt to make them see reason on population issues is likely to meet with the same success as approaching Philip Morris and other tobacco companies did in making them see the dangers of cigarette smoking.
Environmentalists are not our friends, friends who have temporarily lost their way and can be brought back into the fold with reasoned argument. They are bought and paid for, paid “not to understand”. We are not two players on the same team merely situated at different ends of the spectrum of sustainability concerns. Our objectives are fundamentally oppositional. While Malthusians attempt to manage population growth to accommodate the environment, environmentalists attempt to manage the environment to accommodate population growth. Therefore, calling an environmentalist “ an environmentalist” is like calling a predator control officer “a bear lover”---his job is to control a ‘problem’ that threatens human expansion when the ‘problem’ is human expansion. Bears must be shot in order that the cities of Banff, Jasper and Whistler can keep growing. The natural environment must be managed in order that human occupation can keep growing. Smart growth, vegetarian diets, recycling and conservation, more efficient technologies---all these green nostrums are just growth enablers. Instead of placing limits on our expansion, they just channel it (allegedly) out of harm’ s way or allow us to stuff more and more of our clothes into the closet by acquiring closet organizers. Our task should be to reduce or wardrobe, not find more space to grow it.
But planned, managed growth is still growth. And that is why CEOs like Gordon Nixon feel comfortable supporting the David Suzuki Foundation and Nature Conservancy, and the TD Bank joins in our beach clean-ups. Nixon and his like probably have Robert Bateman prints hanging in their board rooms as they plot the next housing development over farmland in the Fraser Valley or the GTA.
I see my role not as a collaborator but as a resister. A saboteur. My objective is fight growth, not make it asthetically pleasing or more efficient. As a personal statement, my intention is to raise my ecological footprint so as to stress the system and hasten its collapse, for each day it lives another 200 non-human species dies and another 214,000 of us are born to push them off the plate. By not mixing my garbage, I overburden land fills. By eating more meat, I deny land to grain production which would feed more people-breeders. By idling my engine and operating my generator, I use up fossil fuels that instead might one day be used to feed more people. And by supporting industrial activity near my local provincial park, I help to reduce tourism which has proven to be a much greater blight upon the land. If I was on a municipal water system, I would make it a point to take extra long showers and keep my sprinklers running full-time.
I am an implacable enemy of the so-called environmental movement and its agenda. I regard them in the same way that General De Gaulle regarded Marshall Petain. I will never “collaborate” with them, nor with organizations that do. To save the environment, environmental organizations must be swept away. They are the nightwatchmen who are asleep on the job but by their presence nevertheless gives us a false sense of security. Better to dismiss them and keep our own vigilance.
Here was my intial response to the OPT outreach proposal:
OUTREACH TO ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS
In my personal experience that best way to reach out to environmental organizations is to make them reach out to us. Like political parties, they only respond to strength, not weakness. At present they think we are marginal players, a whacky fringe that would cost them donor support if they catered to us. It was only after I hammered the Sierra Club for a year that they put out feelers to me. It was then that I made a grave tactical error. Instead of keeping up my attack, I held out an olive branch and offered them my support and assistance if they wanted to introduce the population issue to their membership. They took that as a sign of weakness. The Executive Director of the Sierra Club, took the time to write me twice that he was appreciative of the importance of population growth to environmental damage, and was hoping to introduce the topic to the membership. As soon as I offered to send him material for the Gabriola conference, he disappeared. I had shown that I was a paper tiger. All I needed was some soft soap to humour me.
Trade unions learned this fact the hard way. Once you drop your adversarial posture, the other side seems no longer interested in your input. When we asked Green Party candidates for their participation in our questionaire, the party they saw us as supplicants and ignored us. We need a membership base with enough financial resources to compete with theirs. At that point they will be all ears. Believe me.
Before they elected 2 MEPs to the European parliament, the BNP were an odius fringe group not to be taken seriously. Once they achieved electoral success though, they were still seen as an odius fringe group, but one that must be taken seriously enough to warrant attention, albeit abusive attention. But when and if they elect more MEPs and cost the Labour Party urban seats, it will not be enough just to denounce them. The mainstream parties will have to deal with them----or plagiarize their policies.
I regret to say that I think Tim is right. When (we) did a survey of about 35 environmental and social justice groups in about 1996, I had written a series of ten statements of a few sentences to a paragraph. For each question, the responders were supposed to say whether they strongly agreed, agreed, didn't know or had no opinon (I think), disagreed, or strongly disagreed. Of the minority that responded, many disagreed about many of the statements and/or made not so friendly comments. When I followed up with some phone calls, I also got some not so friendly responses. David Suzuki responded to my survey (sent to the Foundation, as I recall) with a handwritten letter....M.