Write a short essay (approximately 500 words) in which you summarize the arguments in these sections of Wollstein?s article and evaluate them appropriately.
The Environmental Elite
In the early 1970s, the environment became the focus of enormous media attention. At least some of the problems were real, if often exaggerated. Untreated sewage was being discharged into coastal estuaries. Toxic runoff from farms and factories was killing fish and birds. Like many Americans, I was concerned. During the mid-1980s, I even worked briefly for the Natural Resources Defense Council?a private environmental advocacy organization.
Today, the political climate has changed radically. Environmental groups?including the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace, and Worldwatch Institute?have become extremely influential and powerful. Greenpeace alone boasts some six million members. The Sierra Club and Worldwatch Institute have ?adviser? status with the United Nations. These environmental groups have become the most powerful lobby in Washington, D.C., and at the U.N.
The result: authoritarian environmental political agendas?not science?are increasingly determining policy. There has also been a frightening change within the environmental movement. For many, the goal is no longer clean air and water, and a safe environment for human beings. Instead, for many environmentalists, the goal is to protect ?sacred Mother Earth??meaning every bug, rat, fern, and species other than man.
Extreme environmentalists are not shy about admitting their goals. As Reed Noss states in his article ?Rewilding America,? ?the collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans.? Indeed, for many, man is the enemy.
This attitude was made crystal clear by Maurice Strong, secretary general of the 1992 U.N. Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro. Just the year before, Strong had declared: ?It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class?involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, ownership of motor vehicles and small electrical appliances, home and workplace air-conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable.?
Some extreme environmentalists want to take us back to the Middle Ages. E. F. Schumacher, author of Small Is Beautiful, says the world was much better in medieval times, when people rarely traveled beyond the village in which they were born. Rudolf Bahro, founder of the German green movement, wants us all to live in small communities and to eliminate our cars, airplanes, computers, and most other modern devices.
Other authoritarian ?defenders of the earth? would like to reduce the human population to prehistoric levels. Warren Hern says ?the human species has become a malignancy, an ?ecotumor? that is growing out of control.? David Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!, agrees. ?We are a cancer on nature,? he declares. Earth First!?s motto proudly declares its ultimate goal: ?Back to the Pleistocene.?
How do they propose we get there? National Park Services biologist David Graber suggests, ?Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.? Many extreme environmentalists are determined to end industrial civilization, one way or another.
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