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Climate Change, General, Nature

Nostalgia and the Environmental Movement

When the year turns to the end of August and September, I start desperately wishing I was still in school, headed back for the brand new semester, full of possibilities.  To ward off these wishful thinking, I discard all my cheesy summer mysteries and stock my book pile with all sorts of academic and thought-provoking non fiction.

As I flood my brain with new facts and descriptions of environmental life, I find myself creating this picture of what the perfect, sustainable world would be, and it’s generally a picture of life gone by – romanticized days when people cared about the land and the environment.  It seems like the past was this utopia of good will toward the earth that was devoured and screwed up by modern things like big business and politics.

All this was fermenting in my brain, as I tried to explain some of the key points of environmentalism to people who don’t care about the environment (or at least it’s not at the forefront of their thinking). How easy is to to call out the environmental movement for being both nostalgic and doomsayers? It seems too easy to write things that either call to mind a romanticized version of the past or condemn the world for it’s evil acts against poor mother nature that will result in the death of humanity.

So often I find myself screaming about the evils that technology has produced in the world, ignoring the irony of doing that from my fancy computer.  So often I depress myself thinking how my life can’t have an impact because I’m not renouncing capitalism and ‘living off the grid.’ It’s so much pressure to live up to this ideal that wasn’t that ideal to begin with.

People in the past weren’t any better about resources than we are.  There were groups who felt that the earth’s resources were precious, and treated them as such, and there were groups who didn’t think that at all. Sound familiar? And living without technology wasn’t that great – one of the best parts about technology is being able to connect with others around the world who might have insight into what you’re interested in.  Just last week, we had a guest blogger  write about being Vegan in the UK – something I don’t know anything about, but find really interesting and relevant to the life I’m trying to lead.

So while the past may sound awesome when we read about it – I’m pretty happy to live right now, even with all the right now’s problems.  We may have some of the biggest political fights yet in the environmental movement coming up soon, and we need to keep focused on the goal of sustainability, rather than wishing we could live in the past.



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