After years of puzzling over the massive bureaucracy that is now the environmental industry, I find it increasingly clear that the wave has crested and is ready to break on the shore. What once was a movement based on good intent and propelled into the world-wide consciousness by well-meaning, ideological individuals with legitimate concerns has been co-opted by big money, big power and big influence.
Don’t misconstrue anything in my comments to be derogatory to those people who still have concerns as to the state of the environment. We all want a clean, healthy planet to live, love and die on. There are still those who campaign for environmental justice as sincerely as their ancestors of the sixties. But something happened to a once true, honest and well-timed movement — those in power caught the wave.
Movements are like the sea — waves build and grow and then come crashing down on the beach, wiping out all in their paths. They are continual, non-ending. And there are many on the beach waiting for each wave with their “boards” in hand, eager to crest each wave and ride it to the bitter end. Thus, when the environmental movement began, those in power saw it as an excellent way to gain control of the mass conscious of the population. No one can say no to clean air, water and healthy forests! What began as a beautiful and true-hearted swell became and remains a tidal wave of massive bureaucracies that are crushing the life out of our personal liberties and freedoms that once made this country great.
Consider the fact that mainstream environmental organizations get a great deal of funding from trusts and funds, which, for the most part, are backed by big business. The same holds true for scientific studies commissioned by these “environmental grantmakers.” If I had a preconceived idea of what I wanted an outcome to be, I would fund those who shared the same viewpoint that I did, not those who disagreed with me. With this thought in mind, ponder this: Why is it the case that environmental regulations continue to pile burdens upon those who can least afford it (i.e. small business), while global corporations continue to get bigger? A case in point is our small fishermen, the individuals with hopes and dreams for personal serenity are once again under attack, and the big commercial fleets continue to sail on.
Environmentalism is no longer a movement, it’s an industry unto itself. The monies generated by donations, lawsuits, goods and services, grants, and jelly jars with endangered species on them has surpassed many other industries already recognized in our society. The wave has turned into a massive, global tsunami that is squeezing the life out of every private individual who ever wanted to just live and let live. We the sustainable are being criminalized at every turn, millworkers and mills alike made to feel as if they are the monster under the bed, ready to pounce and devour all who draw near. The farmers, those who live closest to the land and those who provide for our most basic of needs, are experiencing challenges that few others in the business world can comprehend. It’s time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about where we are as a society: In our rush to embrace Nature, have we turned our backs on our own humanity?
Yes, indeed, the surf is up. But those who stand ready, boards in hand, need to be mindful of one very critical thing — with each wave comes an undertow. And those who fall subject to that force, rarely continue on. Surf’s up.
Robbie McKay of Kingman is president of Unorganized Territories United.