What does the average citizen think of when they hear the term environmentalist?
Answer: a tree-hugging, bulldozer-sabotaging, disobedient hippie, who hates modernization and technological innovation. However, while these connotations may apply to some (very few) environmentalists, I assure you that this is a completely skewed and absurd definition.
Nevertheless, environmentalists have understandably earned this bad reputation over years as a result of their ever-increasing radical approaches. In cahoots with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they have repeatedly blocked legislation that would have created jobs and improved the economy. Although I consider myself environmentally-friendly, I shy away from terming myself an “environmentalist” due to all of the negative connotations that come along with the label.
However, a point of clarification needs to be made with regards to the term. Here is Britannica Encyclopedia’s definition ofenvironmentalism:
Environmentalism is a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities; through the adoption of forms of political, economic, and social organization that are thought to be necessary for, or at least conducive to, the benign treatment of the environment by humans; and through a reassessment of humanity’s relationship with nature. In various ways, environmentalism claims that living things other than humans, and the natural environment as a whole, are deserving of consideration in reasoning about the morality of political, economic, and social policies.
Often times, environmentalists tend to focus on one issue at a time, such as climate change or conservation or pollution. As a result of this myopic perspective and a manipulation of the above definition, environmentalists solely intend to limit human interaction with the environment. Thus, they have earned their title as unreasonable and radical. However, if environmentalists want to actually take effective action, they need to reevaluate their objectives and start working with human interaction in the environment, “[reassessing] humanity’s relationship with nature.” Additionally, they need to have an agenda broader than simply one target issue.
Thus, if environmentalists choose to operate within the bright green framework, which encourages technological innovation and economic growth, they will be more effective in their wider range of feats. Furthermore, by aligning themselves more closely to the definition of environmentalism and avoiding radical, perverted interpretations, they will also garner a more favorable reputation.
Tanner Davis is a research associate at the National Center for Policy Analysis.