Environmental extremists seem unwilling to compromise on their demands for
extremely clean air and water, as well as on purely aesthetic demands such as
blue skies. They continue to press for the preservation of unreasonably large
numbers of plants and animals, literally millions of species, including some
quite ugly ones that, from a more balanced point of view, contribute nothing
to the useful production of polychlorinated biphenyls.
Every time a couple of
thousand frogs appear with a few extra eyes and some missing limbs, or the CO2
content of the atmosphere rises a little more than in the past half million
years, or some nitrogen-mutated microbes begin eating the flesh off fish and
making people sick, green extremists demand regulatory action. And if you
think environmental regulation doesn't cost jobs, just ask an out-of-work
whaler. It's no wonder environmental extremists have alienated so many average
Americans like Steve Forbes, or that their "Earth in the Balance" agenda seems
to appeal to no more than 79 percent of the U.S. public.
David Helvarg, author of The War Against the Greens
We can't be extreme enough in this day and age, when we're losing the earth
so rapidly. People want a movement that's strong, tough, and unbending. We
won't always win, but we shouldn't lose because we're willing to compromise.
Martin Litton, former Sierra Club director
Relative to the magnitude of the ecological crisis, environmentalism is an
extremely well-intentioned reform movement whose great accomplishment has been
to slow the destruction of nature somewhat. Given the power and momentum of
industrial civilization, that is no mean, or negligible, feat. The crisis,
however, is a systemic problem, rooted in a place that policy can't reach:
our human-centered worldview. As Audre Lorde put it, "The master's tools will
never dismantle the master's house." Fundamental change of the nonviolent
variety doesn't come from the top down or the center out.
Stephanie Mills, editor of Turning Away From Technology
No. In fact, it hasn't gone far enough in protecting the human rights of
people of color. The record shows that racism affects everything from where
dumps are sited to how they're cleaned up. Our Native communities are
literally dying from toxic impacts. We need to be more extreme in protecting
people equally. The contamination on our lands is a form of ethnocide.
Tom Goldtooth, executive director, Indigenous Environmental Network
Only in that there's way too much infighting. Some of us choose to work in the
political arena and some choose to stay out and throw rocks, and that's fine.
But it's really destructive when people get attacked as sellouts because
they're not pure enough. No one should be attacked for taking advantage of
existing conditions. I believe in practicing the art of the possible, gaining
as much ground as you can today and living to fight for more.
Bart Koehler, cofounder, Earth First!, and executive director, Southeast Alaska
Not a bit. It's as mainstream as apple pie and the Fourth of July. Of course,
polluters don't agree. They claim that the new clean-air standards went too
far, but parents of asthmatic children don't think that cleaner air is the
least bit radical. These new standards mean that kids will have fewer days of
missed school, fewer visits to the emergency room, less need for medication,
and a better quality of life.
The auto industry argues that increasing fuel-efficiency standards for cars to
an average of 45 miles per gallon is an extreme reaction to global warming. I
think that leaving our kids a world plagued by rising temperatures, more
violent droughts and storms, and higher incidence of diseases is what's
extreme. Some have called the Sierra Club's campaign to end commercial logging
on federal public lands radical. But when you consider that in 1996 the U.S.
Forest Service timber-sale program lost $700 million while damaging watersheds
and destroying wildlife habitat, it's not the Club's agenda that seems