The Cost of a New Environmentalism

Last week, my Slate piece on environmentalism was read by many people who care (and write) about green issues. Some (okay, many of them) didn’t particularly like what I wrote. I felt the rumblings on Twitter and elsewhere. And I had planned on responding, but then the horrific tragedy on Friday happened, and I just didn’t have it in me to wade back into the nitty gritty of eco-narratives that still dominate our discourse.

I still plan on responding in full to the main rebuttals. Look for that in this space near the end of the week.

Meanwhile, I see that Bryan Walsh of Time magazine has just published a really thoughtful take on my piece. Which doesn’t surprise me, because it was Walsh’s thoughts on Twitter last week (in reaction to the essay) that got me thinking the most. He articulated implications of my argument that I hadn’t addressed (or much considered) and I’ve been brooding over them since.

In his Time piece, Walsh talks about the refreshing new strain of environmentalism modern greens have created. But he also wonders about the tradeoffs that come with eco-pragmatism. Go read his piece.

I’m pretty sure I’ll have it in the back of my mind today, as I wander around the American Museum of Natural History with my 8 year old son and his classmates during a school field trip. His class is currently learning about ecology, so we’ll be looking at exhibits on ecosystems and biodiversity.

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