“Since when did the term ‘environmentalist’ take on such a negative connotation?” This quote is from a letter-to-the-editor of a major metropolitan newspaper. “Sure,” it continues, “… there are extremists who make the evening news, but they are very much the minority…”
Maybe the first thing we should do is define “environmentalist.” It was not even listed as a word in my 1961 Webster dictionary.
According to the Internet I found three definitions:
1) Advocate for environmentalism.
2) One concerned about environmental quality, especially of the human environment with respect to control of pollution.
3) A person who protects the natural world from pollution and other threats.
It seems anyone can call themselves an “environmentalist.” It just depends on how you define pollution, the natural world and quality. Since the definition is so vague I suggest we have a means of evaluating one’s EnviroCred. Criteria would be based on 1) personal sacrifice, 2) realistic goals, and 3) actual reduction of pollution.
If you give up your job, leave your family and tie yourself to a tree, that might mark you a C+ Environmentalist. You get your picture in the paper but expect someone else to pay for it. Say a person sells his house, takes all his savings and tries to buy the tree to protect it, that would be a B+ Environmentalist. Great personal sacrifice, but no guarantee you can force the owner to do something against his will.
Compare that to someone who already owns the tree and refuses to cut it down, that would be the greatest sacrifice, an A+ Environmentalist.
It is a matter of putting your money where your mouth is. Not the government’s money, but your personal commitment. It’s easy to be generous with somebody else’s money.
Those of us in agriculture are frequent targets for D-rated Enviros who decide that loach minnows are endangered. They are willing to sacrifice your land, your property rights, your labor, heritage and income to attain their goal. These Enviros are the most despicable. They are ready and willing to condemn somebody else’s property to build wetlands, roads, or army training grounds for “the greater good,” as long as it is not “in their backyard!” Often, those who are most passionate about an issue and prey on rural communities, know the least about it! We see these self-important politicians, protesters, media pundits and celebrities pounding the table and orating, with all EnviroCred of a monkey behind the wheel of a Maserati!
The label ‘environmentalist’ has been grossly abused. Maybe to be called one, a license based on your EnviroCred should be required. One that embodies some personal investment, some knowledge, and one that is environment-specific. Then, in response to the letter to the editor, common sense and credibility would allow the title, environmentalist, to be seen in a positive light. Which it should be, of course.