21 April 2006

Earth Day Concerns

Today, there was an Earth Day fair on campus. I had a little time during lunch, and wandered on through. Strangely, I found myself becoming more and more annoyed as I moved through the displays. It took me a while to figure out exactly why. It was the lack of topicality of some of the displays.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that most of the displays were both relevant and interesting. A couple looked at things like sustainable agriculture and aquaculture. There was a display, including a portable processing unit, from the local biodiesel group. Another highlighted low cost and relatively high efficiency solar cells, suitable and affordable for home use. For me, those are exactly the kinds of display that are exactly what Earth Day should be used to highlight.

But then there were the other displays. There were a couple wandering around in what I thought was a display of a sadomasochistic relationship, before I figured out that it was just a recreation of Abu Ghraib. He was wearing the black suit and hood, and she was passing out fliers demanding the trial of Bush et al for crimes against humanity. Our local communist was there, with lots of copies of Revolutionary Worker. Another few people, somewhat more moderate than the first pair, were circulating with a petition demanding Rumsfeld's resignation. Another group was working the immigration issue. Those were the types of display that annoyed me.

It's not that I don't think that those are views that are entitled to be displayed. Hell, I agree with some of them. It's just that they aren't Earth Day issues.

The planet is too important to politicize in any way, and it is certainly too important to make it a partisan issue. Addressing the problems that are facing the planet is going to need to involve everyone. We need to involve more people, with a wider range of views, in the solution to the problem. Linking Earth Day, the environment, and environmental issues to a wide array of unrelated (not to mention controversial) positions is not going to accomplish it. Instead, it risks painting the environment as another purely liberal issue, alienating those we most desperately need to convince.
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