Environmental Modernists – Technology as Salvation or a Temporal Fix

Interesting piece over at The Breakthrough Institute on the continued awakening of modern environmental thought by Fred Pearce, under the new label, environmental technologmodernism.

There is a new environmental agenda out there. One that is inimical to many traditional conservationists, but which is picking up kudos and converts. It calls itself environmental modernism — which for many is an oxymoron. Wasn’t the environmentalism of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Greenpeace’s warriors against industrial whaling and the nuclear industry, and efforts to preserve the world’s last wild lands, meant to be the antithesis of the modern industrial world?  But the prophets of ecological modernism believe technology is the solution and not the problem. They say that harnessing innovation and entrepreneurship can save the planet and that if environmentalists won’t buy into that, then their Arcadian sentiments are the problem. Continue reading

Student Conservation Association – helping promote environmental stewardship

For those budding conservationists in high school or college in the U.S., or those with just a passing curiosity in the topic, I highlight an organization that helped to shape my interest and career in environmental stewardship, the Student Conservation Association, that you might want to consider.  The SCA is not an environmental advocacy or lobby group – they do something more important.  They help place young professionals in key internship opportunities that enable them to pursue an interest in environmental stewardship and conservation.

I first learned of this organization in 1988 when I was studying for a degree in wildlife management at the University of Maine Orono.  After applying, I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work as a conservation intern for the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park to participate in a predator-prey study leading up to the reintroduction of the wolves in Yellowstone.   CCF04292013_00001Here I am, all of 147 pounds on Druid Peak, with Mount Norris in the background in the Lamar Valley area of the Park after a long day of tracking elk (with a can of bear spray on my hip).  My team and I spent several months tracking 50 yearling around the Park documenting and researching predation rates and causes, including black bear, grizzly, and coyote kills.  Continue reading

Do We Really Need a New Shade of Green Environmentalism?

Okay . . . I begin with an apology for the title of this post, but no other title quite captures the gist of the story.  Even for someone like me who has spent his entire adult life immersed in environmental issues, it’s hard for me to keep up with the Green vernacular.  I don’t know what it is with you Greens (you have pale greens, lite greens, dark greens, bright greens, red-greens, radical red-greens, blue-greens, red-green-brown greens, veridian greens, puke greens – p.s. I made that last one up), but that term and its many derivations as used to describe one’s greenitude or fealty to some green alliance has gotten awfully confusing. Continue reading

Calling all Good Samaritans

We all know the parable told by Jesus regarding the sojourner who was robbed, pillaged, and left to die along his journey to Jericho.  While some passed him by – because they did not bother to care or care to be bothered – a Samaritan who came upon him, took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, and took him to an inn to take care of him.  The next day the Samaritan gave the inn keeper two silver coins and said “look after him . . . and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”  Jesus asked, “which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers.”  The expert in the law replied “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Awesome story – whether factual or not – and one that I strive to live up to in my life.  So you ask, what does this have to do with environmental stewardship?   Continue reading

Society’s “little platoons” for conservation

aspensI’ve just finished a new book that is a must read for the political right (and for those on the political left who may be interested in what conservatives think about environmental issues).  Roger Scruton’s “How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism”  is a page turner on why conservatives need not shy away from advocating environmental protections; rather they should embrace the topic and advocate for approaches that not only advance environmental stewardship but conservatism.  In a recent book review by Peter Blair over at The Witherspoon Institute, Blair critiques:

Conservatism aims to preserve and maintain renewal of [homeostatic] systems, especially the “civil associations” that Scruton calls society’s “little platoons,” in the words of Edmund Burke. The little platoons—families, local clubs and institutions, churches and schools—keep us accountable to ourselves and our environment, teaching us how to “interact as free beings, each taking responsibility for his actions.” Daily life in these civil associations assimilates and connects us to a settled home, a place and a people we identify as peculiarly “ours.” Continue reading

Conservatives Promote Environmental Stewardship

Great discussion today in DC sponsored by the Conclc_010813bservation Leadership Council carried by C-SPAN – on advancing principals of environmental stewardship through more bottom-up cooperative conservation as opposed to top-down regulatory approaches.  The CLC has released a new report highlighting successful community-based projects aimed at conserving endangered species, enhancing water quality, and protecting fragile ocean resources through more public-private partnerships and market-based approaches.   Lots of discussion about the need for deeper, more meaningful trust among the stakeholders and greater transparency in the development and use of environmental metrics to measure our progress.  Numerous eNGOs, including EDF, TNC, NWF, NFWF, and other groups around the table.   As always, Lynn Scarlett did a masterful job of facilitating the discussion, with Gale Norton and Ed Schafer, former Secretaries of DOI and USDA, at the table.  My former boss at EPA, Ben Grumbles, President of U.S. Water Alliance, discusses the interconnectivity of local, regional and national water issues.  (49:46 – 52:08)  Other good minds contributing to the dialogue – Gary Burnett, Terry Fankhauser, Greg Schildwachter, Alex Echols, and Doug Domenech.