Is The Environmental Movement Dead?


Is The Environmental Movement Dead?

Posted 21 August 2011, by Ronnie Citron-Fink, Care2,


“The biggest problem with the environmental movement is the environmentalists.”

This statement was posed to a panel of noted environmentalists at the Omega Institute’s Design By Nature: Preserving Life’s Essentials Bread, Water & Shelter conference this weekend. The panel included Laurie David, producer of An Inconvenient Truth, and author of The Family Dinner, Josh Fox, filmmaker and director of Gasland, Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and You Have the Power, and Bob Berkebile, founding principal of BNIM Architects, an architectural firm that fosters holistic, and integrated communities.

Last fall, I attended the first Design By Nature conference and wrote about my experience exploring the “greenest living building”and discovering biomimicry. Omega is a uniquely inspiring community of learners and deep thinkers.

Back to the environmentalists…

Have you ever met someone who described themselves as an ex-environmentalist? I haven’t. I would say an environmentalist is someone who embraces a shared vision to advocate for the planet by working to protect it from environmental destruction.

Whether it’s climate change, energy issues, waste management, water, food, land use, ecosystems, endangered species, or issues of public health, it seems a no-brainer to me to work to protect our environment. I’m hopeful that we can collectively build a healthy future.

Yet, it seems some believe that environmentalists have got it all wrong…

From The Next Right: “They’re still clinging to a couple of ideas like urbanism and fatalism, but what can you do, they’ve bought into the idea of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.”

So let’s look at what these environmental visionaries have to say about how we continue to fight for the environment…

Frances Moore Lappé: Create Stories Together
Work shoulder to shoulder together to create new stories about the environment. Pass down the old stories to our children. Stay open to the possibilities.

Bob Berkebile: Generate More Energy Than You Consume
Living in an ecosystem – embracing nature, can create a post-carbon economy. Use our natural resources and systems to fight pollutants.

Laurie David: Dinner Makes A Difference – Eat Together
Create communities that are more localized. Produce and consume with less waste. Sitting down at the dinner table with your family has powerful, far-reaching results.

Josh Fox: Embrace Civil Disobedience
When asked how he deals with the fatigue of fighting for the environment, he quoted actor, Mark Ruffalo: “If you don’t feel hopeful, you’re not doing enough.”

It was refreshing and confirming to be in the presence of so many enlightened folks who have brought change to their communities and the world by making choices to preserve life’s essentials.

Is the environmental movement dead? Not a chance. But, I’ll leave you with a few dangling questions…What is an environmentalist? Are we being the change we want to see, or are we just talking about change? Do we need a new word to describe those who dedicate themselves to protecting the Earth?

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer and educator. Ronnie regularly writes about sustainable living for online sites and magazines. Along with being the creator of, Ronnie has contributed to numerous books about green home design, DIY, children, and humor. Ronnie lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her family.

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